Author's Note: Alright, so I got my hands on one of the older Harvest Moon games. Harvest Moon 64 if you want me to be precise. I fell in love with the storyline and conjured up the beginnings of a story that would play through the events of my playthrough. All reviews are appreciated so I hope you have time to sit down with your cups of hot chocolate and blankets and wrap your minds around this fic, and fall back in love with Harvest Moon.
The news crashed down around his world in the blink of an eye. He dropped the cordless phone from his hand and then hurriedly picked it back up. All he wanted to do was get through with the conversation as quickly as possible, but he didn't want to come off as being rude either.
"W-When did this happen exactly?"
"It had to have been sometime during the night," The man, who had introduced himself as the mayor, responded with a sigh, "I came and visited whenever I could. He was getting on up there, you know? Ninety-six years. I can't even begin to imagine..."
The young man smiled at the mayor's response as he rubbed the back of his head and slid down against the wall of his apartment, "Yea, grandpa always did have a strong will to live."
"Indeed," the mayor chuckled remorsefully, "but I'll tell you what. He was sharp as a tack! Even at ninety-six he could tell you every little detail about his child and grandchild. Right down to their favorite food. Sharp as a tack!"
"Well, thank you for calling," the young man fake-smiled and nodded even though he knew that there was no way the mayor could see the little gesture.
"Alright, well the village is hosting the funeral. It's going to be here at our church three days from now. Think you can make it?"
"I wouldn't miss it for the world, sir." The young man stated reassuringly. He told the mayor goodbye and ended the call.
The young man's name was Jack Harvest, and for the first time in his twenty-two years of life he felt that his world had been warped. His last and closest grandparent had died. There was no one left to call him a grandson and no one left for him to call grandpa.
It was a very overwhelming feeling that invaded his body, though he could ignore it due to the state of shock he was now experiencing. He just kept reflecting back on the phone call. He heard it repeat inside his head over and over again.
"I'm calling with bad news, sir...I'm afraid your grandfather has passed away..."
The phone rang suddenly as if to shake Jack from his stupor. He started fiddling around the floor looking for wherever he had misplaced the phone. Upon finding it, he picked it up and pressed the talk button.
"Finally! Who were you on the phone with for so long? A girlfriend? I've been trying to get a hold of you for quite some time now!"
"Sorry dad...Actually, I just got off the phone with the mayor of Flowerbud Village...he said that—"
"Oh...he called you too then." His dad sighed on the other end of the receiver, "Guess he looked through all of grandpa's letters and then looked us up. You know how grandpa was. He could never—"
"—never see the point of having a phone." Jack laughed reflectively, remembering when his grandpa had first said such an absurd thing. "I guess it was kinda true though. Everyone he would have probably called always visited him."
"Yeah, your grandpa was always a pretty popular guy," Jack's dad stated somberly, "Always drove me crazy growing up. Could never get a moment's peace around that old house...He was a good dad..."
There was a long and awkward pause where neither said a word to each other.
"Well...," Jack spoke up finally, "Don't forget the funeral is in three days."
"Yeah...," His father said, "...well...I'm gonna get off here."
"Okay...I'll talk to you later." They exchanged goodbyes and Jack hung up the phone.
Jack sighed and picked himself up from the wall and hung the phone back on its receiver. He looked around his stuffy and messy one-bedroom apartment with disdain and proceeded to pick up laundry and tidy up. He had to do something. Anything to get his thoughts away from the problem. He laughed to himself as he picked up yet another white T-shirt and orange scarf. He could never really understand his fellow city-folk's nature to wear expensive name-brand clothing. Jack always felt most comfortable in white T-shirts and blue jeans, which was why they seemed to dominate his wardrobe.
As Jack pulled up another pair of blue jeans to toss in his laundry basket, he noticed a blue picture album underneath it. He smiled to himself as he sat down on his bed and flipped open the cover. There were only a few pictures in it that highlighted his life. The first was a picture of his pregnant mother looking happily at the camera, the second was of his father holding him in his arms when he was a baby, and the third was him at about five years old sitting beside grandpa and his dog.
Jack stopped skimming through and just stared at the picture. Grandpa's happy, white-mustached smile was shining its brightest for the camera. Jack had to chuckle because the look on his own five-year old face was almost embarrassing. He had his mouth opened wide and his tongue sticking out at grandpa. The dog was sleeping in front of them and they were shaded from the sun under the old oak tree out behind the house.
A single tear followed by three more hit the pages before Jack put his arm over his eyes. He ran his hands through his brown hair as soft sobs began to rack his body from out of nowhere. The only thing he felt like doing was pushing his head into his pillow and letting his grief flow out.
After a three-hour flight, the plane finally landed at the airfield outside of Flowerbud Village. Jack exited the plane and immediately went over to baggage claim. He grabbed his orange overnight bag when it came by on the conveyor belt and headed out for the nearest exit. After a mile long walk, he found himself in the village square. It was a wide open area with sakura trees all around it. The cherry blossoms scattered all around in the wind and kids were playing happily, trying to catch ever petal as they fell. It had been a long time since his last visit to this place, but every time he came here he got caught up in the village's peaceful serenity.
"Ah! Hello there!"
Jack noticed a man sitting on a bench underneath a sakura tree. He was a short middle-aged man of plump proportions. He had a bushy brown mustache and curly light brown hair, which was mostly hidden by a red top hat to hide his balding scalp. He wore a yellow collared shirt with a blue tie and red overcoat and generated a strong aura of kindliness around him.
"You must be Jack. Your grandpa always did love to talk about you."
"And you must be the mayor, right?" Jack asked.
"Indeed I am." The mayor stated proudly, "Well, come now, I'll show you to the house."
Grandpa's house was a small, wooden cabin with a red tin roof and green shutters on the windows. A "Welcome Home" sign was hanging beside the door for all visitors to see. Jack couldn't help but laugh when he seen it. Grandpa always did consider his house to be open to everyone. In front of the house was a wooden doghouse with a red tin roof on it and an iron-made storage bin.
As they walked up to the front door, a small basset hound came running out from behind the house barking like mad at them. Jack readied himself and when the dog leaped at him, he caught the dog in his arms and head-locked it before brushing his knuckles against its head playfully.
"You're a feisty little dog aren't you?" Jack laughed as the dog tried to bite at his hand. "Hey! Easy there, buddy!"
The dog payed him no mind and instead attempted to bite him again.
"Alright, little tough guy huh?" Jack questioned as he let the dog loose from his grip, "Well come and get me boy! Let's see what you're made of!"
Without a second thought, the basset hound came rushing after him with renewed vigor and Jack ran around the house dodging the dog left and right as it stayed right on his heels. He couldn't help but laugh to himself as the dog started barking at him. It made a leap for him and he ducked down so the dog jumped over him.
As Jack ran around the house a third time, he could see the mayor leaning up against the storage bin chuckling uncontrollably at the antics between the dog and himself. Jack finally wore down after running behind the chicken houses and landed flat on his back in a huge patch of dirt.
The basset hound came up beside him and hopped up onto his chest and stared at him for a long second before proceeding to lick Jack's face repeatedly. Jack laughed nonstop as he tried to pull away from the dog. Finally he pushed himself up to a sitting position and started petting the dog insistently, "All that pent-up energy and no way to let it out. I think I'd be ready to sink my teeth into something too, right buddy?"
The dog barked.
"Well, seems you two became fast friends, eh?" The mayor smiled, walking up to the two as the dog continued licking on Jack's cheek.
Jack rubbed the back of his head, grinning slightly before looking around the field. Upon closer inspection he noticed the saddened state of grandpa's garden. The garden was completely unkempt. Rocks, weeds, and tree stumps littered the entire field.
"Aye, your grandpa just finally got to the point that he couldn't keep up with his farming anymore. Sold all his animals to the Green Ranch. He tried to keep watering vegetables, but he fell one day and broke a couple ribs, so we told him he shouldn't do that anymore...and then, of course, watched him to make sure he really wouldn't do it."
Jack sat, listening to the disheartening story before picking up the basset hound and looking it straight in the face, "I'm gonna call you Buddy. That okay with you?"
The dog barked and wagged its tail.
"A fine name that is," The mayor chuckled at the young man's antics, "Well I'd best be off. Need to get home before supper or the wife will kill me. If there's anything you need, then just drop by the village and let me know.
Jack thanked the man and seen him off the property.
Jack walked into his grandpa's house and found it to be in pretty good condition compared to everything else he'd seen thus far. Though there wasn't anything really decorative about the one room home, it still had the homely vibe about it. Jack knew that grandpa was always the type that didn't see the necessity in buying the 'guilty pleasures' of life. Thus the furniture of the house were extremely basic: a table in the middle of the room, a bed in the corner, a nightstand beside it, a television for weather advisories and local news, and finally a toolbox filled with all of grandpa's old gardening equipment. The equipment in the toolbox included: an ax, a scythe, a hoe, a hammer, a watering can, and a full bag of dog food.
Feeling the sudden urge to get out, Jack grabbed the dog food and walked outside where Buddy was there to greet him with a wagging tail. Jack poured the contents of the bag into the dog bowl until it was filled. He sat there and watched the small dog eat and wondered if he was one of the pups of grandpa's old dog.
"Well Buddy, tomorrow's not going to come easy for me," Jack said, suddenly feeling the need to talk, "but I'll get by somehow."
Before he'd even realized it, the sun had disappeared from view and the night had set in. Jack walked back into the cabin with Buddy. He lied down on his bed and skimmed through his old photo album one more time, transfixed on the photo of his grandpa. He pet Buddy a few times before finally laying the album on the nightstand and drifting off into slumber.
The day dawned and Jack awoke bright and early to Buddy licking his face. He smiled and laughed a little bit before sighing. Today was the day. The service wasn't until two, so he decided that the best way to pass the time would be to try and do something about the weeds that were littered all over the field. He wheeled a wheelbarrow out from behind the stable, grabbed the scythe from the toolbox, and began slicing and dicing all the weeds he could and tossing the remains into the wheelbarrow. He was incredibly surprised to find himself having fun doing such a trivial thing. It was a wonderful source of stress relief. He wiped his brow with a white handkerchief from all his work and was quite surprised at the progress he had made.
"Oh wow, looks like you've been busy."
Jack jumped at the voice of the mayor behind him. "Sir, you startled me."
"Ha ha ha, I can see that," The mayor chuckled before letting a consoling expression adorn his face, "It's time."
"Already?!" Jack yelped in surprise. He looked at his watch and noticed that it was one-thirty in the afternoon. He didn't have time to wash up or do anything. He was going to have to go to his grandpa's funeral decked out in full farmer clothing. Jack chuckled inwardly despite himself; strangely enough he couldn't help thinking that grandpa wouldn't have had it any other way.
The mayor lead the way back into the village and into the local church where the service was to be held. A feeling of relief washed over Jack when he seen that everyone else was dressed just as casually as he was. Now he just wished he would have had time to wash the dirt and sweat from his face.
Jack took his position in the pallbearer's pew where five other men were sitting and quietly paying respect to his grandpa's life. Jack made short greetings with all of the men. There were the two twins who were carpenters in the village. They had spiky black hair with white strips of cloth tied around their forehead. Neither of the two thought to introduce themselves, but all the same seemed to be good people. The third person was a gruff brown haired and bearded man who snorted at him and had the faint smell of booze around him. His name was Gotz. The fourth person was a goofy-looking man just a few years older than Jack with a big nose who had been grandpa's mailman. His name was Harris. And the fifth man introduced himself as the owner of Green Ranch. He had vibrant, slicked-back orange hair and an orange mustache to go with it. His name was Hall.
The funeral service began and Pastor Brown spoke about how hardworking a man grandpa was and how he went to be with our father in heaven. Then a beautiful song was played on the organ by a young girl with braided hair and glasses. It entranced Jack as tears fell down from his face and he tried to hold back his sobs. Hall, in a fatherly manner, patted him on the back consolingly until Jack could pull himself together. The service ended at long last and the pallbearers all walked up and began gathering the flowers up in their arms and taking them over to the grave site.
Then it was finally time to carry the casket. The two carpenter twins took the front of the coffin with Gotz and Hall taking the back, which left Jack and Harris in the middle. They walked the casket all the way to the small cemetery and listened once more to Pastor Brown's eulogy.
And then it was over. Everyone gathered around the cemetery and started talking with one another in good nature. It was a good service. Grandpa wouldn't have had it any other way...
Jack turned around to see the girl with black braided hair who had played the organ during the service. "Oh hello there, I'm Jack."
"I'm M-Maria. Sorry for your loss..." The soft spoken girl replied in a sweet consoling tone.
"Thank you," Jack smiled reassuringly, "I'll be okay, I think. It just takes time..."
Jack frowned though as he looked around at all the people that had gathered and couldn't help noticing that one person in particular was missing.
"A-Are you alright...?"
Jack shook his scatterbrained head and refocused his attention on the girl before him. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry about that."
An awkward tension rose up between the two as Jack couldn't think of what else to say. So he said the first thing that crossed his mind.
"You know, you're a great organ player."
"Really?" she asked sounding surprised.
Jack smiled, "Yeah, that song you played back in the church was really beautiful. Thank you for playing it."
The girl blushed a deep red and thanked him before running off. Jack scratched the back of his head confusingly but just shrugged his shoulders before departing quietly from the congregation.
Upon arrival back at the farm, he was immediately greeted by Buddy who came and jumped into his arms and started licking his face yet again. He laughed happily as he looked at the dog and massaged his ears.
"Well that took a lot out of me." Jack said to the dog filling him in on what happened.
Jack turned around to see his father looking around the old farm he had been raised in with a little annoyance before sighing and looking back around at Jack. "Sorry I'm late...I guess grandpa's already...?"
"Yeah..." Jack stated in a rather displeasing tone.
Jack's dad was a salary man in the city he had slicked back brown hair and a mustache, which Jack was starting to think must be some local custom of Flowerbud Village since every man in/from the village seemed to have one so far. He wore an important business suit and looked like he had just came straight from his job.
"Yes well, I just got caught up in work..." was his excuse.
"Geez dad..." Jack sighed, "He was your dad; you, at the least, should have showed up..."
His dad just stood there not really making eye contact with him.
"I'll go talk with the villagers." He stated before walking off back toward the village.
Jack just shook his head and looked at Buddy whom had tilted his head to the side and perked up his ears in a confused manner.
"That's my dad for you, Buddy. He gets so wrapped up in his career that he forgets what's important in life. I only hope I don't turn out the same way..."
The dog whined a little and nudged Jack's chin up with his nose in an attempt to perk him up, which couldn't help but make Jack laugh.
"Alright boy, I'll be cheerful."
He reflected on everything that had happened while in Flowerbud Village. All the people seemed so friendly and loving to one another. A whole lot different than back in the city. Jack for the first time really felt this sense of belonging. Like this was the place that he needed to be.
A huge smile made its way onto Jack's face as an idea crossed his mind. He whistled Buddy to follow him and went running back toward the village looking for his dad. He caught up with him and called out for him to wait before coming to a complete stop in front of his dad. Jack's dad looked at him curiously as he gasped for breath from running so hard.
"I...was wondering...I want...to stay here," Jack panted heavily.
His father looked at him in surprise. "What?"
Jack stood up straight and looked his father in the eyes and smiled happily, "I want to stay here and work on grandpa's farm."
Jack's dad looked at him disapprovingly, "Jack, you don't know the first thing about running a—"
"I can learn!" Jack interjected immediately. "I want to learn! I'll do anything. I was out cutting weeds on the farm today. Sure it was hard work, but I've never done something that felt so fulfilling in all my life! And the village, dad, the village! Everyone's so nice to everyone else. It's so different compared to the city life...please dad..."
Jack just looked at his father evenly and practically pleaded with his eyes for his dad to let him stay and work the farm. His father grimaced before sighing and replying "You really want to work on the farm?"
"Absolutely. One hundred percent!" Jack begged.
As if to help him, Buddy began whining with him before barking loudly and panting happily.
His dad finally sighed and relented, "...Ok...do what you think is right. You're a grown man now so I see no reason why I should stop you."
Jack hugged his dad, "Thanks dad, you won't regret this, I promise!"
"Be sure I don't son," His dad said seriously. They said their partings and Jack waved goodbye to his dad and made his way back to his grandpa's house...no...his house.
"Tomorrow's going to be the beginning of a long day, Buddy," He told the dog as he laid himself upon his bed. He'd already written out the letters to the landlord of his apartment to send his things to his new address as well as set the money out for his last rent payment.
One thing was for certain. Tomorrow would be an exciting new day.