Prologue:

"It just takes a second for my world to come crumbling down. Oh I'm sure in the distance you can hear that awful sound. Oh I plead for an answer, plead for an answer from you. But if you give me an answer, that just makes no sense then whats the use. And just like that my life is broken, I can barely breathe, and now I'm opened for suggestions. At the end of the day life is a lesson."

Suggestion – Orelia Has Orchestra.

-.-.-

Clarissa,

I've been hearing things. Bad things. Mom and Dad don't seem to know, but I know you better. These aren't accidents; you've never been the "clumsy" type as they seem so keen on labeling you as. Coming home with bruises on your arms and legs, sometimes your face. I don't know what you've been telling them, but you can only fall down the stairs so many times before someone catches on. Please, tell me what's going on and I will help you in any way I can. I know I haven't exactly been around much lately and I am trying to prove to you that I am here for you.

Love, Jack.

-.-.-

Clarissa,

I know it's weird to get letters from me in the mail, but it would be nice if you wrote me back. It isn't too difficult writing out a letter, putting a stamp on it, and putting it in the mailbox so the mailman can come and bring it to me here in Mineral Town. Again, I'm sorry that I left on such a short notice, but I'm really trying to make up for it now.

Mom told me that things have taken a turn for the worse. She mentioned that you haven't been eating lately, and that you are wearing sweaters and sweatpants...and it's summer. You should be out with your friends at the beach, not holed up in your room with the lights off. She also said that you haven't seen that boyfriend of yours in a few weeks. I thought you and Dante were inseparable. Did something happen? He's not the one hurting you, is he? If he is I swear, Claire, I will come to Florida and kick his ass all the way to Mineral Town and back until he learns his lesson in touching my sister.

Love, Jack.

-.-.-

Jackson,

It's funny. You say you're here for me in all of your letters and yet I don't know anything about you anymore. I know you live in Mineral Town. I don't know, however, if you're single...or maybe even seeing someone. Maybe you're married; maybe you have already settled down long ago and have a baby on the way. Who's to say you aren't really in Mineral Town, and not in some run down town where you work the local strip club to make some extra cash? I haven't seen you in a year. In that year I've already forgotten what your face looks like—what your voice sounds like. How can you say you're here for me, when for a whole year you acted as if your family here never existed?

Don't pretend as if you know anything about Dante or me. He would never hurt me. Never. Don't even consider thinking something crazy like that about him. He loves me; he says we're going to get married one day. That's how much he loves me, Jack. He would never leave. He's not like you. He's good.

Claire.

-.-.-

Clarissa,

Ouch. I guess I deserved that. I'm definitely living in Mineral Town. There are no strip clubs around here—not that I know of. It's pretty small, but homey. Everyone is really nice here; you would love them. I am dating someone, and her name is Raquel. She's only here during the Summer with her friend, Kai. They work at a shop on the beach. Gosh, Claire, she's absolutely beautiful. I met her when I first came here, but we hit it off right away. What I wouldn't do for that woman. We don't plan on getting married any time soon, and there are no kids on the way.

You said you knew nothing about me? My favorite color is still blue, I still have brown hair, my favorite food is still spaghetti, I can burp the alphabet, and I like to sleep facing my wall. I have a dog that I named Clara. Remind you of someone? You see, I do love my little sister. It might not seem like it always, but even after all this time apart I go to bed at night wishing I could have done things differently. You knew why I left. I couldn't be what Mom and Dad wanted me to be. Medical school wasn't my calling. This might not be either, but I love it.

I struggle to make ends meat. My cows don't always produce milk and my hens don't always make eggs, I sometimes forget to water my crops and they wilt, and I've let way too many fish go that I could have sold, but this is my life now. I'm making something of myself here in Mineral Town. It's my new home, and I couldn't ask for anything better.

I'm sorry if I insulted your boyfriend. I never meant to jump the gun, but I'm worried about you. I don't want you to get hurt.

I love you, Jack.

-.-.-

Sweetheart,

Clarissa meant to write you back, but there was a horrible accident. I know it's not easy for you to get here on such a short notice, but I would really appreciate it if you came to see your sister. I will pay you the cost for transportation. I know she would love to see you; ever since your last letter she's been smiling some more around the house. She seemed happier, and then this happened.

Just try. Please.

Love always, Mom.

-.-.-

Days after the accident, Claire woke to find herself surrounded in white. White walls, white floor, white ceiling, white sheets, white cabinets; it never ended. She thought for a split second she had died and slipped away to heaven in her sleep. At least heaven would have provided her with relief, instead of the agonizing feeling of all her bruises and wounds jumping to life and making themselves aware.

A few weeks after that, however, she found herself in a much different situation. If being in the hospital seemed like heaven, then this was ten times worse than hell. The world around her turned red in her rage. The whites of her knuckles strained against the surface of her skin, her fingers etched crescents into her skin, and the pressure of her teeth against her bottom lip managed to draw blood. Her previous sanctuary vanished before her eyes, eradicated by a statement which dropped a bomb on her world.

"We think it's best that you live with your brother in Mineral Town."

No. This is some sort of cruel joke. A sick, cruel joke. Jackson put them up to this. He must have. They're not this crazy. But it turned out to be no joke. Her parents, in their desire to keep her far away from the stress of her current life, were sending her to live with her brother in Mineral Town. They expressed that the "fresh air and country life" would bring her the healing she required. Claire had told them she was fine—begged for them to rethink their drastic, life-changing decision. They didn't. The tickets for her flight to New York City had already been booked, and once she landed she would meet with a limo driver who would then transfer her to her ferry, which would bring her straight to her new home.

Home. It was such a lie to think of, a sin to speak. Florida was her home, nothing would change that. Rolling fields with tall blades of grass, cows grazing in the fields, sheep chewing on fodder, chickens picking away at the land, crops blooming with bright colors didn't scream home. It screamed change; she hadn't even been given time to process her move. To adapt. She felt like a fish out of water, placed on land and struggling to get her bearings.

A week after hearing the news she found herself on a ferry, watching the distant town grow larger and larger until she could see her brother standing on the dock with his hands in the pockets of his overalls. That face hadn't changed a bit; he might have looked a bit more scruffy with facial hair growing in along his jawline, but he held that naive air about him. And his hair was a bit longer than she remembered, kept in a ponytail behind his head. She snorted at the thought of what their mother would do if she saw him now. His hair would be the first thing to go. She always prided in her children looking prim and proper at all times, after all.

Once they docked, Jack helped Claire carry her things onto the dock. It was then that Claire realized how overdressed she was. While Jack seemed perfectly happy in his raggedy t-shirt underneath dirtied overalls and work boots, she stood before him clad in white shorts, a cropped shirt which bore more midriff than he liked to see on his little sister, and sunglasses bigger than necessary. But his first reaction wasn't to chastise her for her outfit. Instead he dropped her bags, pulled her into an embrace, cupped his hand around the back of her head, and nearly cried into her hair.

"You didn't come," she said, her voice a cracked whisper. Her arms didn't come up to meet her brothers broad back. Instead they dangled limp at her sides, unmoving. "I was in that hospital for two weeks and you didn't come. I waited. Mom said she was sure you were coming; she booked you a flight and a ferry. Where were you?"

Jack held her at an arms length, tears visible on his bottom lashes. They flashed for a moment before he closed them and inhaled. "I know, I'm sorry. Things got a little hectic here, what with Raquel being back. I know that's no excuse, but you have to believe me when I say getting up and leaving to go to Florida isn't as easy as you might think. I can't just expect someone to manage my farm while I'm gone; I could get help, but I would much rather do things on my own. You know me."

"No, Jack, I don't know you."

-.-.-

A/N: This is going to be the only note of the whole story. This is not the typical Harvest Moon story. At least I don't think so. I'm writing more about relationships between the characters, the human condition, things that people desire, feelings, thoughts, etc in a narrative from Claire's point of view. There will be romance—as this will essentially be a love story. But I would like to focus, as I said, on the human condition. There will also be violence, suggestions of rape, abuse, drugs, etc. So it will be rated appropriately. :) Anyway, I hope you enjoy this prologue of sorts, and the beginning of a tangled web of distrust in relationships, acceptance, guilt, love, remorse, happiness and more as I try to improve on my knowledge of human behavior through one of my favorite games to write about.