Author's Note: This is why I shouldn't write at three in the morning. I tend to not make a lot of sense around that time- at least not to other people. Still, it's fun to experiment from time to time with a different writing style, and sometimes I learn new things even if it's what not to do the next time.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or its characters.
She sits at the kitchen table, pen in hand, and watches the clock.
For fifteen minutes now she has been sitting there, just sitting, and even knowing that, she continues to do so. Her lips are a rosy line drawn across her face, much like the perfect black arches over her dull eyes, and her face is pale and thin. Even her once glossy, raven hair has since grayed, but she's decided not to bother with dying it after a four year war campaign. She has finally learned that gray hair is better than having no hair at all.
Of course, that is hardly all she's learned over the past few years.
There are some things one can't learn from books or teachers, mothers or fathers, friends or neighbors, but she has always known this. Even so, she can't help thinking that maybe if she listens to what others have to say, she might learn something, and there are times when she's right and learns about the most interesting things.
Like how her husband is to blame for the phone bill, the tab, and everything else that has kept them in the red all this time.
But even she knows that there are things she can't learn from hear-say alone. Like where her daughter is and what she's doing and with whom. She's not a little girl anymore; she knows that. She learned that a long time ago. She can't be responsible for her anymore; she knows that, too. She learned that at the same time as the one that came before it. It's what she doesn't know that worries her.
It always has.
Take that boy working out in the yard. She's learned from the preacher that he had a hard life before coming here, but as to why he came or what he left behind, she hasn't learned a thing. He keeps quiet, that one, and it worries her.
All she wants to do is help someone other than herself.
She hears the door open and close behind her, but she doesn't turn to see who it is. The pen is still in her hand, and while the paper is right in front of her, she hasn't written a thing. She's learned how to write, of course, but no one taught her what she should write. A person can't learn that, no matter how hard one tries. That's all she knows when it comes to writing.
"Manna, are you alright?"
"Yes," she lies, the pen still in her hand. "I was just thinking..." She lets it end there- if only because she hasn't learned how to continue. No one taught her how to finish that sentence, but after a moment, she tries anyway. "I was just thinking how I don't know much of anything."
"What are you talking about?"
The smell of wine reaches her, and she knows it well. After all, she learned early on that it was to be her husband's very own perfume, and over the years it's one of the few things she hasn't forgotten which isn't all that surprising when he wears it everyday.
It is what she means when she says that cologne rhymes with alone.
"Something," she replies with a shrug. Her voice is empty, just like her eyes and the glass on the table, and it's because of this emptiness that she shivers. He doesn't know what to say, but she can't really blame him.
Not when she doesn't know, either.
"You were drinking," he says at last. She sits there, the pen in her hand, and stares at the clock. It's been over an hour now, and even though she knows this, she has no reason to think anything of it. Time is always passing her by whether she pays attention to it or not. "You never used to drink," he continues, trying to sound understanding. He should be.
After all, he's had his fair share of the same thing.
She reminds him of this, and he chuckles because he knows it as well, maybe even better than she does. She wants to look at him then, see just what kind of man he really is instead of the man she always thought him to be, but she can't bring herself to do it. She doesn't want to learn that just yet.
Maybe not ever.
"I wanted to try it," she explains. She's being honest. After all these years of watching him die slowly, she couldn't help but be a little curious, and it was only a matter of time before she tried it for herself. She has come to one conclusion.
The wine was sour, but at the very same time she also thought it was bitter. She knows that it can't be both, not at the same time, and so she tried it again only to have the same thought. She knows she should've stopped. She also knows that wasn't an option. She had to understand...
Even if the lesson was one that would never be remembered.
"You should go lie down," he tells her, resting his hands on her narrow shoulders. She nods and stands- only to stumble once she's on her feet. He chuckles and shakes his head, guiding her towards the stairs. He can't believe it.
He's the one helping her.
Without too much trouble, he brings her up the stairs and into their bedroom. There are two beds, but it wasn't always that way. He decides that she should lay in his though he can't explain why. His wife giggles and calls him a gentleman which makes him blush, and then she gives him a kiss.
The first in six years.
At first, he doesn't know what to say, and all he can do is stand there and stare. He sees her, but at the same time, he knows it isn't her. At least not the woman she is now. No, she's different somehow. Her lips are full and red, her cheeks are round and rosy. Her eyes are black and shining, her hair is dark and glossy.
She is young again.
Memories dance in his mind as he lays next to her on the bed, and she smiles up at him with a heavy-lidded gaze. He remembers learning her name and wondering just what kind of name it was if only because he hadn't heard anything like it before, and he remembers thinking that his name was too plain compared to hers. He asks himself if he ever told her about those thoughts. He can't remember.
It is then that she begins to drift off to sleep.
He watches as her chest rises and falls, noticing the faint blush across her cheeks, and asks himself when and why he stopped looking at her like this. He once learned that she had freckles, but he's forgotten where they are. He starts finding them again.
These are the lessons to be learned.