Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon.
Since You Left Me
Resting the flower on her grave, Galen let out a gentle sob, for his love and best friend had left him. The only solace was that her pain was no more, she would be free and happy, most likely waiting for that day when they could be reunited. His heart ached, as he wished he could see her face one last time. The elderly man picked up the withering blossom from a week ago, it saddened him that nothing was permanent. In the ideal world, he and Nina would be together again, they would be young and as madly in love as they always were.
"Nina, I love you..." he muttered, before shuffling away from the grave.
Galen had promised Nina on the day of their wedding, that he would tell her he loved her every single day, a promise he kept long after her passing. Sending the withered blossom afloat on the river, as he stood on the wooden bridge, Galen wondered what Nina would say to him right now, if she were watching him.
"What would you say, Nina, if you were watching me right now?" he asked to the skies. He knew that she would be in heaven, she was so good and pure, the angels would have to have a heart of stone not to let her in.
Unbeknown to Galen, Nina was indeed watching him. She couldn't leave the side of the one she loved, seeing her husband's pain hurt her deeply, if she had a beating heart it would break. "I'd want you to be happy," Nina whispered. But, the veil between the living and the dead would not allow her words to be heard by her love. Instead, she must walk on, watching his pain.
Waiting minutes, that felt like hours, Galen realised that he would not receive an answer, so he went on his way to the Blue Bar, to see if some of his pain loosened at the bottom of a glass. It did not. One drink only made him feel worse, because Nina would not be at home waiting to lecture him about spending their money on fancy cocktails.
"Need anything else?" Griffin asked, concerned for the elderly man.
Over the years, the barman and the elderly man considered themselves friends. Not the kind that could spend time together, like going fishing or a hike, but the kind that could share a deep conversation over a drink.
"Not for me, Griffin," Galen replied, as he pushed the empty glass away.
The elderly man climbed down off the bar stool, and let out a woeful sigh, before shuffling back to his modest shack. His home was now cold, empty and dull, without his beloved to brighten up the room with her smile, and kind loving words. Galen eased himself onto his futon, clutching at Nina's shawl, wishing the real Nina was sleeping on her side of the futon.
As the days went on, from weeks to seasons, even to a year, each day Galen would spend the entire morning tending to Nina's grave, and telling her the three words he had promised he would say; "I love you." He would then shuffle on his way, to the Blue Bar, order a drink, and spend the afternoon staring into it, before taking a sip every so often. Once he was done, Griffin would ask, "Can I get you another?" To which Galen would reply, "Not for me, Griffin." Then he would continue on his way to his small shack, and lay alone on the darkness, allowing himself to cry over her passing.
Three years after her passing, Galen decided to stop going to the bar all together, because the drink didn't ease his pain at all. Instead, in the afternoons, he would go to the goddess pond, and pray that Nina would be happy and at peace.
"O great Harvest Goddess, please protect my beloved Nina, keep her forever at peace, and let her know that I will join her one day..." he muttered, while dropping a flower into the pond. He would then leave, to tend to a bonsai tree that he had gotten recently, that was one of his few joys left, in his empty life.
The ghostly form of Nina stood by the spring, her face full of sadness, as she realised there was nothing she could do for him. She had left her mortal form, and he had not. Once the elderly man was gone, the beautiful Harvest Goddess arose from the icy depths of the pond, only to see that the man wasn't there. She held the flower in her hand, sensing the purpose of the gift. Nina approached the pond, and looked up at the beautiful goddess.
"Will Galen ever be able to find happiness?" Nina asked.
Of course the goddess could hear her, and see her. "In his own time," she replied, before sinking back into the safety of the pond.
Nina let out a concerned sigh, that she would have to watch her husband suffering for the rest of his life. But, she knew that nothing could be done about it, because it was just her time to go. Each day, she would see him devoted to tending to her grave, and praying for her happiness at the goddess pond. She longed to tell him that seeing him happy would make her happy, but there was no way she could tell him.
After his afternoon prayer, Galen sat on one of the benches near the river, and let out a lonely sigh. With out Nina there, he had no life, he had nothing to spend each moment of his life caring for, save for tending to his bonsai tree, everything else was Nina long after her passing. And so, another part of his routine began. As the seasons flowed from one to another, even in the rain or snow, Galen would sit on that same bench after his afternoon prayer, staring into the clear river. The voice of a young boy, the farmer Mark's son, broke his trance.
"Do you mind if I sit here, Mister?" the boy said, gesturing at the seat beside Galen.
"Go a head, Lad," Galen said politely.
The boy smiled, and sat down on the bench, before casting his fishing line into the river. Galen couldn't resist smiling, the young boy reminded him of himself, when he was that age. Fishing was one of his hobbies to, something he enjoyed often. The young boy had to be at least 6 now, he knew that, because Nina had been there to act as a midwife, when the boy was born. Galen knew his name was Kevin, because Nina would talk about him like he was her own grandson, right up until her passing 4 years ago.
"Do you like to fish, Kevin?" Galen asked, as he observed the look of concentration on the young boy's face.
"It's ok," Kevin said, while staring at the fishing lure. "My papa keeps meaning to go fishing, but he is so busy with farming, that I thought I would help him out, by catching some fish for him."
Keven tried to real in a fish, but he wasn't fast enough, and the fish got away. The young boy muttered a couple of profanities, in anger, because of the escaping fish. Galen couldn't help laughing, because his own reaction was similar, the first time he tried to catch a fish.
"Would you like me to teach you, how to fish properly?" Galen asked, as the boy added more bait to the hook. "I used to fish quite a bit, in my youth."
The little boy's eyes lit up with joy. "Really, Mister?"
"Of course," Galen replied.
The elderly man spent the afternoon explaining exactly how to hold the fishing rod correctly, and other techniques that he had picked up. Even went as far as to catch a few fish, for the boy, so he didn't go home empty handed. Galen actually enjoyed teaching him, because the boy was determined and a fast learner. The whole time, Nina was watching them, with a smile on her face. She hadn't seen him so happy in years.
"Will you show me again tomorrow?" Kevin asked, when he had to return home for dinner, holding a pail containing three fish.
"Of course, I will be right here, the same time tomorrow," Galen replied.
Galen kept true to his word, every afternoon, after taking care of Nina's grave, and praying at the goddess pond, Galen would be sat on that very same bench, ready to share his fishing wisdom with Kevin. It was nearly a season before Kevin was able to catch a single fish, but with each failed attempt, Galen would reassure him that it takes time to master fishing.
In the evenings, Galen was alone again, in his humble home, tending to his bonsai. He finally realised, that despite him claiming that he was happy, in actual fact, he wasn't. He was very lonely. Nina's death had created a huge hole in his life, and it had taken so long for him to realise it. Each evening, Galen found himself thinking the same thing; about his loneliness. Each night, Nina would sit on the bed, looking at her husband sadly.
When Kevin returned home one afternoon, after their daily fishing lesson, Galen remained sat on the bench. He could see Marlin walking across the wooden bridge, on his way to the Blue Bar. The elderly man remained sat on the bench, while thinking of going to the Blue Bar himself, as the sun continued to sink behind the hills that surrounded the peaceful valley. Nina was sat beside him, wishing she could tell him to go to the Blue Bar, even though she didn't approve when she was alive. But, now that she spent every minute of the day following him, that she realised how lonely he was. Galen didn't go to the Blue Bar that night, nor the next night, or even the night after that. It was a full week, before Galen approached Marlin, as the young farmer was leaving Vesta's farm.
"Marlin, mind if I join you, on your way to the Blue Bar?" Galen asked, politely.
"Sure," Marlin replied, confused as to why Galen had to ask.
So, the Marlin and Galen set off on their way to the Blue Bar. Marlin had to walk slower, because Galen wasn't as spry as he used to be. When the two entered the bar, Griffin greeted the two men like old friends, well they were.
"Evening, Marlin, Galen!" Griffin said, at the sight of them.
"Evening, Griffin," Marlin said, as he sat down on his usual bar stool, right next to Takakura.
"Evening, Griffin," Galen repeated, as he sat down next to Marlin.
"It's been a while since you stopped by," Griffin said, as he served up the usual drink Galen used to order. "I still remember," he added.
Galen smiled, and took his time drinking his drink. He didn't engage in conversation with the other men, until the farmer Mark came into the bar, after a long day of tiresome farm work. Mark ordered a drink, and sat down on the last empty bar stool. He turned to Galen, and smiled.
"Kevin told me that you helped him learn to fish," Mark said, to the elderly man.
"Kevin is a good boy," Galen commented.
"Thank you, for teaching him. I was worrying about him, because all he did was stay in his room all day," Mark replied. "And, it helps that he brings all the fish home. I don't have time to fish myself."
"Oh, it was nothing! I enjoy teaching him, he reminds me of myself when I was a lad," Galen said, humbly.
That night, Galen talked with the other men, and returned home happy. He realised that he could still love Nina, but be happy to. No one would ever replace her in his heart, but he could live a happy life until he was reunited with her. As he looked through the box of her things, that he had kept all these years, he found a letter at the bottom.
If you are reading this, either I've done a poor job of hiding it, or I've passed away. I want you to know, that I love you, and always want you to be happy.
With all my love, Nina.
"Happy? Yes, I am that," Galen said, with a smile.
When that night came, when Galen would go to sleep the last time, his last thought was of the years he had spent in the valley with Nina, from the moment they met, to when they began dating, to when they were engage, and even married, when their child was born, grew up and left the valley, when they met their grandchild for the first time... everything. He then closed his eyes, and the veil between the living and dead fell, Galen opened his eyes to see his beloved Nina.
"You have been waiting for me all these years?" he asked, holding out his hand.
"I did promise that I wouldn't leave you," Nina replied, as she held his hand.
The couple smiled at each other, seeing that they looked exactly how they did when they were first married, they walked together holding hands into the light.
A/N: I was asked to write this, for a fanfic plot swap challenge, from Lexy on Ushi no Tane forum. I hope you like it, and thanks for reading.