An Autumnal Affliction: Chapter One

Whispers of the past, present and future murmured different words, catch phrases in her ears. To remember what was, what is, and what will be. Autumn Buckley was caught in the middle, between an uncomfortable twilight darkness of past memories, of a previous self whispering reminders of her existence, buried, somewhere, and a future so vast, so significant, it threatened to swallow her whole purely by accident.

She was enough of her own person to be whole without another soul renting space in her heart. Instead, she had too much of herself after her long-term beau left: the blood in her veins, the nerves in her fingertips, the electrons sparking in her brain; they all hungered for something to use them up again. Autumn needed something to do, something meaningful and tangible to consume the energies buzzing through her nervous system. She needed newness, novelty, and an adventure to take the space a living being once occupied. She needed to pour the essence of herself into something larger than a single existence, needed to dollop herself out a spoonful at a time until she was indistinguishable from the pulsating world surrounding her. She wanted the escapade of a grand drama and epic worlds, she lusted to live an adventure the great Tolkien, or the unnamed author of Beowulf would be inspired by.

And then she remembered she was penniless, jobless, and soon would be homeless if, in the words of her brusque mother, she "didn't quit spending 'er time sniffin' books an' mopin' over some foolish lad". By the end of the week, she would be down to her last cup of ramen noodles (chicken flavoured), and it didn't suit her to beg her less-than-willing acquaintances for meals or shelter, and asking her parents was certainly out of the question.

Thus, Autumn settled for the less-than-thrilling ranch in Waffle Town, hopelessly praying it would be something close to "a wonderful life on wonderful Waffle Island" as the tacky brochure described it, though any life would be an improvement from the one she was living. And at any rate, she certainly didn't have anything left to loose; the last of her meager savings were painfully poured into the boat ticket that would ferry her to said Island on the first day of the New Year.

Pale skin, pale hair, pale soul, fading into the pale lavender light of a final winter's evening. Gill sat listlessly at his father's massive oaken desk, finishing paperwork, filing, writing, and occasionally sipping from his half-chilled herbal tea, the cup being haphazardly perched atop a stack of aging books he'd never get the chance to read. It was yet another late night, one when he quietly ushered the ever-persistent Elli out of the Town Hall to finish his father's mayoral duties in peace. Elli was a kindred spirit, one made specifically to be helpful, but her dependence upon the orders of others irritated Gill; after a while, the 'No, Elli, there's nothing more you need to do's became far more irksome than her help could compensate for. Gill was sure she'd make a good wife to somebody one day.

As the ancient clock perched upon the wall approached eleven and the stack of paper on the desk, many from mainland businesses refusing the island's meager goods, shrank considerably, the young mayor-by-proxy came across a sheet unfamiliar to him in the years he had been assisting his father at the Town Hall. Recently, he had filed an innumerable amount of notices declaring a resident's departure, the ailing island had scarcely enough to provide for its residents any longer, but he had never need sign a declaration of arrival. Snorting in an amusement bred only by the many restless nights spent dreaming in dollar signs and produce prices, Gill affirmed the notice with his father's inky signature of approval.

Beyond rousing a pale amusement, the paper received no second glance from the young man, no inspection beyond signing and stacking. In fact, Gill cared not enough to review neither the new resident's name, nor time of arrival. He was sure this was a joke, or a mistake; they must have meant Pancake Island instead, or would turn away, scrambling to board the next boat returning to the mainland after viewing the pathetic state Waffle Island was in. Gill knew he would, if he had been given the chance.

Alas, fate had never afforded such a generous chance to the mayor's son. That he was acutely aware of.

He continued to sip upon the stale tea, and in the minutes preceding midnight, he took supper in the cluttered quarters of the Town Hall's mayoral office. By quarter of one, Gill retired to the modest mayoral household. His home was neat and tidy, but only to keep the walls of his mind from collapsing. He snuck past the dozing lump that was his father, haphazardly sprawled across the ornate, overlarge divan adjacent to the smoldering fireplace, and climbed the stairs to his chambers. Soon, he fell into the grey subconscious dreaming where voices in the dark, oblique passageways of his mind screamed louder and louder. Daily he would suppress them with work and mantras and more work, but even he knew it was only a matter of time. He listened as the sands of time drained away his sanity, and wondered how long he had left. It couldn't be long. He listened to the sand in his head as he lay in his bed, wondering how long he had left before something, whatever it could be, happened.

Pascal leisurely leaned against the railing of his aging ship, staring out into the bustling harbor of the mainland. He watched as men and women and dirty-faced children came and went like moths among the clamor and stench of the seaport. Goods were being sold by loud, greasy merchants, shouting into and above the early-morning clamor to earn enough to turn a profit. Other, larger, more impressive ships were unloading their goods by the crateful, carried by underpaid deckhands, whilst others, mostly fishing boats, saw their crew report for duty, tired and still mildly hung over from lonely New Year's celebrations at the local pubs. These were men who had no family or friends to celebrate with, just a cheap bottle filled with cheap whiskey and still cheaper memories. Pascal thanked the Goddess he never had to be one of those men.

Waffle Island's captain was aged, though still preserved a sense of jolly contentment which had easily carried him through boyhood. He was easy to smile, a bright, almost lopsided sort of grin, something used often and presumably learned early; he was the sort of man whom people liked when he smiled. Thus, blessed with a humble congeniality and a welcoming smile, Pascal had floated through life upon the fluffy clouds of easily exchanged words and informal favors, always smiled upon brightly by fate. It was upon this very morning the same fates that smiled upon Captain Pascal would smile upon all of Waffle Island, though their gift would be delivered in the form of a young Autumn Buckley.

"'Scuse me!" the girl's call startled Pascal from his reverie.


The girl breathlessly scrambled, uninvited, onto the ship's deck, clutching a single felt bag in one hand and smoothing down a cowlick, an unsightly result of her delayed awakening that morning (she had been having the oddest dream of a strange woman with a withering voice and delicate wings) , with the other.

"'Scuse me," she repeated, catching her breath, "you'll be traveling to Waffle Island?"

Pascal smiled sunnily at the girl, a smile that enveloped the entire human plane then settled solely upon her. It was a reassuring sort of smile.

"I suppose I will today, tomorrow, and the week after that, young lass. Will you?"

"I will be," she answered surely, with the sun reflecting from her soft, yet determined orbs, her jaunty figure thrust back with an unexplainable yet tangible thirst for adventure. She stood as though the world twinkled in her bosom, and she was simply paying it tribute by quenching her thirst for adventure.

Pascal decided easily, quickly, he enjoyed the presence of this nameless adventuress, and welcomed her aboard his ship. The early morning sky bloomed in the distance like the blue honey of sapphires of a foreign land, and the smiling captain and his daring guest departed from the bustle of the harbor, headed for adventure and Waffle Island.

Chapter one, though it serves to introduce our characters and their dispositions more than anything else. As always and forever, I do not own nor claim to own any part of the Harvest Moon franchise nor its affiliated characters. I own naught but parts of the plot line and a large sack of melancholia. Reviews tickle me, and many thank yous to those I have received thus far :)