The day of Claire's birthday I woke up early and made my way to the clinic. I was guessing she was even going to work on her birthday, thinking that seeing Jin on such a day was a treat. She had become very fond of the man. The two were good friends, but nothing more. She claimed that he didn't really seem like he liked her as more than a friend, but I wasn't sure whether she was right or not.
The door wasn't even unlocked when I arrived at the clinic. I banged on the door until Jin opened it, looking quite irritated from the obnoxious knocking.
"Is there an emergency, or are you purposely annoying me before I even start work?" Jin asked, giving a sigh and stepping aside so that I could enter the building.
With a grin playing across my face, I said, "The second one." That earned me a shake of the head and a weak smile, followed by raised eyebrows. "Today is Claire's birthday and I wanted to come here to surprise her." After saying that, I reached into my rucksack and drew out the necklace that I had decided to get her for the occasion. Dangling it in the air for the man to see, I said in a light voice, "You like?"
Observing the item for a second, Jin nodded. "Well, I'm not really all that into jewelry...but I'm sure she will like it." He looked a bit troubled for a moment, pushing his glasses up when he glanced off to the side with his dark eyes. "I just got her an art kit. Do you think...do you think that is a good enough present?"
Waving my hand in dismissal, I said, "Of course. Just receiving a present will mean enough to her. That was thoughtful of you, Jin." His actions were something a friend would do, but the fact that he had wondered about the gift being good enough was what I thought was hinting a bit beyond friendship. I couldn't be sure, though. "Are you two close friends?" I couldn't help but ask. If Claire had been there with us, she probably would have been mortified by my question.
As I had been wondering about his friendly actions, the man had sat down at his desk and started shuffling around some papers. There was a slight hesitation in his movements.
"We're friends," he stated simply in a light tone.
This guy seriously wasn't going to crack, was he? I wanted to know if he felt anything more toward my best friend. His actions made me think so, but the man was just so...confusing.
I plopped down on a chair beside his desk. "Want to play a game?" When Jin stopped shuffling around papers and gave me a slightly irritated sideways glance, I continued. "I'll tell you who I like if you tell me who you like."
Straightening himself, the black-haired male cleared his throat. Staring me directly in the eyes, he said flatly, "Considering it is quite obvious you like Owen, I don't think that game would be fair at all."
Before I could fire back a comment, the door to the building opened and Claire made her way into the examination room where Jin's desk was located. When she spotted me sitting in the area, she froze, quirking an eyebrow.
"Happy birthday!" I cheered, shooting up from my seat and tackling her in a hug. "My little Claire is growing up..."
"I'm older than you, dork..."
Rolling my eyes, I let go of her and stepped back, reaching into my rucksack as I did so. "I got you a present," I drawled, slowly pulling out the necklace and holding it out for her.
As a smile spread across her face, she took the necklace and examined it. "It's beautiful. Thank you." Once her blue eyes were done scanning the item, she clasped it around her neck. The bold color of the gem was nice contrast with her pale outfit. It looked quite nice on her.
Shyly, Jin stood up and went over to her. As Claire and I had been conversing, the man had pulled an art kit out of one of the drawers in his desk. "I got you a present too."
Claire's eyes were suddenly alight with an emotion I could never bring upon her. It was apparent that she sincerely enjoyed my gift, but Jin's gift was special just because he was actually giving her one when they weren't even too close of friends or going out. The gesture meant a great deal to her, and as she took the art kit from him, my lips curled into a sheepish smile.
"This is wonderful, Jin," Claire giggled, the skin at the sides of her eyes crinkling when she grinned. "I really love this. Thank you so much." The man seemed pleased that she valued his gift; he was blushing slightly and shifting from foot to foot, a light smile playing across his face.
My weak smile strengthened and I wrapped my arms around Claire and said softly, "Happy birthday."
The rest of fall drifted by slowly, the weather becoming increasingly more frigid. When the first day of winter finally arrived, I was surprised to find my best friend wearing a coat as she made her way to work. Claire had always loved cold temperatures and could tolerate the lack of heat well, but I supposed Jin would disapprove if she arrived at work without a coat on. I, myself, hated cold weather.
There was nothing to do on the farm; nothing really grew well during the winter except for a few crops. I planted them and watered them every day before hauling myself back inside my house and wrapping myself up in the sheets on my bed and falling asleep most days. Mining always sounded so appealing, but the cold temperatures outside would be nothing compared to the lower levels of the mine.
The person I admired had only visited me once since winter had started; he had come barreling down the path up by the path where the Caramel Falls District led to the Ganache Mine District. I had been watering my measles crops, just about done and ready to head inside. Owen had yelled at me, causing me to drop the water can onto my feet. The icy water had seeped through my boots and I had started to squeal and hop around, screaming at him in irritation. Instead of feeling sorry or being taken aback by my anger, he had simply laughed and followed me inside the house when I went inside to change my socks and boots. He was puzzled as to why I hadn't been to the mine lately, and I could tell he also wondered why I hadn't at least visited him.
Today was just one of those lazy winter days...I was buried under the thick covers on my bed. Eyelids drooping, I was almost asleep.
Bam bam bam!
Whoever was at the door caused me to sigh heavily and roll my eyes. I remained in bed for a few more seconds before sliding out of the warmth and rushing over to the door, hoping to get back before I became too terribly chilly.
"What's up?" Chloe bounced into my house with a grin spread across her face, red-orange hair bobbing. "Haven't seen you in a long time, Angela. Are you okay?" After a couple high-pitched giggles escaped from her mouth, she added, "Are you and Owen having problems or something?"
After shooting a glare at her, I hurriedly crawled back under the covers on my bed and yanked them over my head. It was so cold out there.
I wasn't sure what Chloe was doing, but it was a bit surprising that she wasn't babbling the entire time she was in the house. I felt too lazy and too warm under the sheets to peek out and see what she was up to.
Suddenly, she went, "Mmm...this tomato is really great."
Tomato. Tomato? Oh no. "Chloe!" I cried, flinging the covers off of myself and flying over to her. "What do you think you're doing? You don't just get what you please out of other people's refrigerators and start eating!" My volume had abruptly skyrocketed, obviously scaring the little girl. Confusion and hurt was written all over her face as she swallowed the last bit of tomato she had eaten.
"I'm sorry, I was just really hungry..."
Taking in deep breaths, I restrained my hands from pulling on my hair. "That was the last tomato, Chloe. Do you realize that there will be no more tomatoes until summer?"
Every time I shrieked the younger female would flinch. She was still so confused as to why I was getting so worked up about it. She had no idea I had needed that tomato to make the second rainbow. Claire and I had figured out where the next Harvest Sprite was and had figured out the ingredients. That was the only one I had left. That was the only one left on the island. Ever since winter had rolled around, all the tomatoes were gone until summer. The whole fate of the island rested in my hands and from her eating that tomato...it put me behind by two seasons.
"It was just a tomato."
Closing my eyes, I seethed, "Just a tomato? No, you just don't understand, Chloe. I want you out of here, and I want you out of here now." If she didn't leave at that moment, I was afraid something very bad would happen. The slightest thing could set me off, and I usually got very enraged about small situations. I felt like hitting something, or throwing something...
The look in her eyes hurt me a bit...she looked puzzled, innocent, and broken. She couldn't understand why I was suddenly so angry with her, acting as if I hated her so much I couldn't even look at her. Biting her bottom lip, she opened the door and left, not without whispering "sorry" before the door clicked shut.
Even with a thick winter coat, scarf, gloves, and ear muffs, I still wasn't warm enough. The winter wind was pounding into me, whipping my hair harshly around my face. My exposed skin stung, and it was hard to keep my eyes open all the way.
I had finally decided I wanted to go and mine. Just laying around all day every day suddenly seemed unappealing on this particular day. When I made it to the mine, I let out a heavy sigh and walked further into the mine.
My blue orbs landed on Chloe, who avoided all eye contact with me. The anger I had felt toward her had died off, leaving a guilty feeling resting in me. And if looks could kill, I would have been dead. Owen was glaring at me; he wasn't pleased at all. My assumption was that he had found out about the incident with Chloe. I didn't expect either of them to understand my side of the story, so attempting to apologize or explain seemed useless.
The man stole a glance at his cousin. "Chloe, can I talk to Angela alone for a second?" Oh great. He was in full "big brother" mode. Although we were friends, I knew the male put family first in his life. His usually nice and calm nature sometimes faded, such as it had just now. Chloe was now hanging out at the entrance of the mine, leaving Owen and I near the steps to the second level. "She really looks up to you, you know. It really hurt her when you got pissed at her over such a stupid situation. Why did you get so worked up, anyways?"
The disappointment and aggravation was laced in his voice and I couldn't meet his gaze. Stalling, I took my time and unwrapped the scarf from around my neck. "You wouldn't understand," I replied weakly. It was the truth. I couldn't tell him if I collected certain items I could meet up with a magical fairy and create a rainbow that would ultimately save the entire island from dying. Who would believe that? Surely not anyone in their right mind.
"Just tell me. Why wouldn't I understand?"
Stomping my foot, I snapped, "No one in their right mind would believe me. I'm going to sound like a dumbass and a liar if I tell you."
Crossing his arms, he looked away from my suddenly fierce gaze. "That brings me to the assumption that you didn't even have a reason. You just went overboard. Way overboard." After a second, his voice became a bit more dangerous. "It's not right to just go getting pissed off at people for such stupid reasons, especially younger ones. She doesn't understand why you're upset with her, and obviously there's not even a good reason for it."
"There's a reason for it, Owen. You can be mad at me all you want, and you can assume what you wish. I don't care anymore."
That was a lie, but by the hardening expression on his face I knew he took it seriously. If I had a knife with me, I was sure I could actually cut the tension that had built up in the area around us. It was silently determined that Owen was angry at me. He didn't say another word to me even as I stood there just waiting for him to speak. When I realized he wasn't going to talk to me, I hurried to the second level of the mine. Winter always brought out the worst in me, and apparently the same could be said for other people. It was the most popular season to be moody and irritable.
Half asleep, I was sitting on the fifth level of the mine in a corner. Mining just wasn't as fun during the winter because I had to stay bundled up the whole time and it was difficult to move in all my layers of clothing. During my break I had decided to curl up in a corner and try and get warmer.
When I eventually shook my head in order to defend myself against sleep, I stood up and found the stairs to the next level. After doing that, I ended up falling through a hole and landing on the ninth level. If I was lucky I would be able to get past the tenth level today where the more valuable gems were found.
At the tenth level, instead of rushing over to the stairs that led to the following level, I froze.
On the cold ground, with only a light jacket over his outfit, was a blond man wearing a cowboy looking hat. When his blue eyes caught mine he looked relieved. "Oh, thank goodness. I thought I might die down here."
"What happened?" I asked, hurrying over to him and kneeling down. His large hands were clutching his right ankle.
After a second he gave a heavy sigh. "I fell through a hole and I think I sprained my ankle. It hurts really badly." Biting his lower lip, he gently rubbed the tender spot. "I tried to stand on my own a bit ago, but it hurts too much to do so. I'm sorry for asking, especially since I don't know you, but would you mind helping me to the top level of the mine?"
Without answering, I offered him my hand and hauled him to his feet. The man slouched over toward me and I wrapped his arm around my shoulder and held it there, guiding him toward the steps.
The journey up to the first level of the mine proved to be complicated. My companion was limping, and would bump into me sometimes, causing me to lose my balance slightly. Getting up the sets of stairs was the biggest challenge of all. We had to take it slow, conquering one step at a time. Other than talking about our next move to get to another floor of the mine, we didn't speak. It felt like a huge accomplishment when we finally reached the first floor of the mine.
"I think I'll be okay getting home now," the man said with a nod. "I just knew I couldn't stand up or get up the stairs with my ankle sprained."
He started to slide his arm off my shoulder, but I grabbed it and clutched it a bit harder than I had been before. Concern was evident on my face, I knew that. I was always concerned for hurting people.
Shaking my head, I started to help him walk slowly toward the exit. "No, I will help you home. You're in no shape to walk there by yourself." Although I didn't look over at him, I knew Owen was watching us, and the tense air was lingering between us.
"Thank you so much...umm...what is your name?"
"Angela. I'm a farmer on this island. And you are?" By the time he answered me, we were passing through the exit of the mine.
"Calvin. I just moved here a few days ago. I'm exploring the legend of Waffle Island. There are ruins in the mine that I observe to try and find out more about this place."
My eyes widened slightly as my breath hitched in my throat. "Legend? The one about the..."
"Fairies?" A light-hearted laugh erupted from the man's chest. When I nodded, he smiled over at me. "The one about the Harvest Goddess and her helpers, yes. That is the legend I am researching."
Silence settled between us for a while after he quickly changed the subject, telling me where his house was. Various thoughts were nipping at my mind. Should I tell him about my encounters with the fairies? About the dreams I had of the Harvest Goddess? Even though he was investigating the legend, would he believe me? It was possible he would think I was making fun of him by making up stories about the tale. The words had been building within me ever since I had encountered the angry Owen. I had wanted to tell him, I really did, but had he even heard anything about the legend? That would make me sound even more insane if he didn't. Although there could be consequences of my confessions, I decided it was worth a shot with Calvin. It would definitely be worth it if he did believe me.
"Calvin..." I drawled, trying to grasp the right words. Remaining silent, he limped along as we continued toward his house, and he waited patiently for me to say more. "I have dreams about the Harvest Goddess. I've even met some of the fairies. I have to help them restore the prosperity of this island."
When he didn't respond, I assumed he didn't understand and took that the way I was hoping he wouldn't.
Hurriedly, I gushed, "I know it's pretty unbelievable, but I'm not joking, and I'm not making fun of you for researching the legend. I just thought maybe someone would understand me instead of thinking I was insane!"
Noting my distress, the man's expression of slight distrust completely melted away into one of surprise. "I can tell you're being sincere. I...I just don't know what to say."
With a sigh of relief, I continued helping him to his home with a comfortable silence lulling between us. It wasn't the end of our conversation, I knew, but he just needed a little time to let the information sink into his mind.