Chapter 1: My Very Own Cave of Wonders
Monday, Summer 1 Year 1:
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was how much warmer the air is. Summer has come at last. Yesterday I harvested the last of my crops, and today I would buy more of Pierre’s seeds and plant some new ones more suitable for this season.
I responded to a knocking at the door and found Demetrius on my porch.
“Hi Taylor! I have some good news for you.”
“It’s summer?” I joked.
He chuckled. “That too. A few days ago, I made a breakthrough in my research on the local environment. I’ll spare you the technical details and get to the point. You know that empty cave over there, a little ways to the west?”
Demetrius meant the little cave behind the decrepit greenhouse, I realized. I’m glad I decided to clear the trees around that part of the farm first; it would have made it more difficult for him to visit and Robin to come down and work on new buildings.
“Well, I have a way to turn it into something useful for both of us. I’d like to set up the cave to attract some local species. That way, I can observe them in a more controlled environment. And you can harvest whatever products they produce. I can either set up the cave to attract mushrooms or fruit bats. The bats will sometimes leave fruit for you to collect. Which one would you prefer?”
I thought about it for a solid minute, and then settled on mushrooms. I figured I could easily grow fruit trees once I have enough money for it, but I didn’t know of any other way to find mushrooms.
“Alright! I’ll go set it up for you right now!”
“Do you need any help?”
“No, it shouldn’t take any time at all. Thanks for letting me do this.”
He took off for his home to get some supplies. I went over to Pierre’s, bought a little of every seed and a pomegranate tree sapling, and planted them. The tree sapling is growing besides my house by the mailbox. At the end of the day, Demetrius had installed six boxes with soil conditions, presumably optimal for mushroom growth, inside the cave.
Chapter 2: Destinies
Emily’s 2 Heart Event
Tuesday, Summer 2 Year 1:
I spent more of the day foraging in the forest and at the beach. I finished a bundle with some beach shells and the crab I got from the mines last week, and in turn got three crab pots. They’re currently at the small pond nearest to my home on the farm, filled with simple bait I made from bug guts I collected from the mines.
After fishing along the river on that bridge towards the beach, I went to the saloon. I first chatted with Willy and Clint. Willy seemed happy that I was keeping the spirit of fishing alive in the valley. Clint told me that his family has been in the blacksmithing business for a few generations.
“Yep. I’m a blacksmith. My father was also a blacksmith. My grandfather was a blacksmith as well. I bet you can’t guess what my great-grandfather was…”
“A silly clown?” I joked. Willy nearly did a spit take, and Clint snickered.
“Hahahaha! Good one.”
I shrugged. “On a more serious note, was he a blacksmith too, by any chance?”
“How did you know?” he asked sarcastically.
After that brief chat, I excused myself to the bar for a light bread appetizer. Emily came over to me during one of her lulls and we chatted. I talked about fireflies, as yesterday night was the first time in a long time since I’ve lived in a place where they are in abundance.
“They’re beautiful.” I exclaimed. “It’s like the sky fell and the stars are dancing before you. I know some people don’t think much of a firefly, but I love it!”
Emily laughed. “That’s almost poetic enough to give Elliott a run for his money.” Her eyes wandered briefly. “That reminded me of something.” She stated when she came to. “Even the tiniest, blandest, simplest light holds a wonderful secret.”
She went on to share with me a dream she had this morning, in which I ended up in.
“I was floating in the sky, meditating on a cloud. Then out of nowhere, you appeared. People don’t usually appear in my dreams, Taylor. I asked why you were there, but you didn’t respond. Didn’t speak for the whole dream, really. Then rainbows flew across the sky like shooting stars, and I realized: it’s a sign!”
Emily left to fill up a beer glass for Pam, then returned to me.
“Did anything else happen?” I asked.
“You popped out of existence soon after. I woke up not long after that.”
“And what did you say it was a sign for again?”
“There’s something special about you. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m going to find out. Our destinies are meant to intersect.” She concluded with a glimmer in her eye.
It’ll be interesting to see how this friendship goes.
Chapter 3: Earthquake
Wednesday, Summer 3 Year 1:
I should have suspected something would happen when Bella the Cat seemed more on edge last night.
Bella woke me up by sitting on my face. I really hope this won’t be a habit of hers. Soon after waking and shoving her off my face, my bed began to shake. Earthquake, I realized. Not one big enough to knock me out of my bed, but large enough to be startling. Panicked, I clung onto the mattress until the quake subsided.
When it was over, I glanced at my watch: 3 AM. Cautious, I turned on the television to look for any additional news on earthquake, got the okay that the quake was over, then went back to sleep.
After the usual farm chores, I made my way to the mountains, and found a new path north of Robin’s home. The earthquake had removed the boulders blocking the path to a train station and a bathhouse. Linus seemed to have gotten used to boulder’s presence, as he seems to miss it. But only a little; he also mentioned that the bathhouse is a great place to seek out warmth on the unusually cold winter days, or when his tent gets destroyed by visitors from out of town.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a little home as opposed to a tent, Linus?” I asked.
“I live out here by my own choice. The crisp air of the wilderness is all I care to know.”
“Okay.” This seemed like something not worth arguing about, and who knows? Maybe with time I’ll learn to understand and respect his choice.
First, I went fishing. By a stroke of luck, I managed to catch a stubborn sturgeon in the mountain lake, and completed another bundle with it. In turn I got a tackle, something I couldn’t use with the fiberglass rod I considered purchasing. I’m going to save up to the iridium rod and proceed that way.
After exhausting myself in the mines to reach level 30, I returned to the bathhouse with my swimsuit and relaxed in the warm swimming pool, basically a giant hot tub. An hour later, I found myself feeling rejuvenated and full of energy again. I took advantage of the restlessness and removed more trees on the farm. Finally, I could clear more of the farm at once.
I’m excited to be able to do more work and clear out the farm faster. I just need to further upgrade my tools for the more difficult logs and boulders, and I’ll be all set.
Chapter 4: Sweet Pea for a Sweet Pea
Thursday, Summer 4 Year 1:
Alright, I officially dislike Alex.
The guy straight up asked me if I have a bikini. Not just a swimsuit, but specifically a bikini. Like, dude, I’m more than just eye candy. The worst part is I probably would have accepted his invitation to hang out with him at the beach if he hadn’t asked about my bikini, and that’s despite him asking if I was wearing new pants last week. Whatever, dude.
On the positive side of things, I bought a new iridium fishing rod today. Now I have to learn more about tackle as well as bait, but oh well. Willy seemed happy enough to offer some tips. I’ll have to visit the lower levels of the mines again if I want the bug guts needed to make bait. The thought makes me shudder; those bugs that just fly at you intending to sting or bite are really obnoxious, not to mention freaky.
Also, Jas’s birthday was today. I swung by Marnie’s place, found Jas in the main room, and she accepted the sweet pea I found as a gift. Slowly, she is starting to be a little less shy around me.
“I like living on the farm,” she said when Marnie entered the room. “My favorite is the fresh ice cream from our cows’ milk.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I have some ready for you after dinner.” Marnie replied.
Jas cheered. Marnie invited me to stay for dinner and celebrate with them, and I agreed when Jas also asked for me to stay.
We enjoyed a meal of parsnips and omelets with a side of melon. Shane came in and joined us. Morris had made him work some overtime again, but he managed to get out there and make it over here for Jas’s birthday festivities. He had initially frozen at the sight of me, then shrugged it off when he took an open seat next to me. We didn’t talk, but he seemed tolerant of my company. I figured it best not to bring up that night at the docks.
Thankfully, a small ice cream party with the birthday girl was a pleasant way to spend the evening. Jas was right about it tasting great, and when I told Marnie about it, she mentioned that she got the recipe from Jodi. Apparently it had won awards before.
When they called for Jas’s bedtime, I bade them a good night and went home. The south end of the farm is still filled with a lot of grass and rocks, and I tripped at least once searching my way through.
Note to self: Clear a path through the farm to the forest that won’t get overgrown. Also, maybe take some torches from the mines and set them up around the farm, or make some type of light source around the farm.
Chapter 5: Respect the Elders
Penny’s 2 Heart Event
Friday, Summer 5 Year 1:
Shane sent me two recipes for in the mail; one for something called a strange bun, and another for pepper poppers. Another note to self: Get that house kitchen upgrade from Robin. Also, buy that size 36 backpack at Pierre’s. Both cost 10,000g and I’m still not sure which I’ll get first. The backpack upgrade would be nice for carrying more things from the mines, but man, do I want to cook real meals rather than ready-to-eat meals heated over the fireplace. I’d like to try out those recipes I’ve been learning from the show The Queen of Sauce as well.
After farm chores, I got to town early in the morning, sometime just after 8 AM. George wheeled out of his house to fetch his mail. He reached deep into the mailbox and groaned in frustration. “How am I going to reach that letter in the back?”
Penny happened to be walking along his way and saw his predicament.
“Here, let me help you Mr. Mullner!” She gently placed her book down on his mailbox, moved George over, reached in his mailbox, and handed to him the letter. “There you go!”
George wasn’t too pleased. “Hmmph. I could’ve done it myself! And I can certainly move around on my own! How feeble do you think I am?”
I was walking nearby, and changed direction to try to avoid their squabble. Unfortunately for me, it was too late for George to ignore me. “Taylor? You were watching us?”
Not that closely, I wanted to say. I then noticed a look of discouragement on Penny’s face. I remembered being in a similar position a couple years ago where an effort to help someone out resulted in them getting offended. It took me a few weeks to get over that experience and trust myself to help others again, and I didn’t want Penny to have to go through a similar thing.
“I was.” I finally replied, then turned to Penny. “You did a kind thing there, Penny.”
Penny smiled shyly. “Thank you.” She lowered her voice slightly. “I just wish George wasn’t so upset… I was only trying to help.” There wasn’t any resentment in her tone.
George sighed. “No, no… I’m sorry, miss. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry. It was actually very kind of you to help me out.”
“That’s okay, Mr. Mullner. I understand.” Penny replied. I think he was just frustrated that he couldn’t do the things he used to be able to do at a younger age, and Penny’s assistance reminded him of that.
George wheeled off with his letter and returned to his home.
“I didn’t want to call you out in front of George,” I whispered to her, “but you should have made sure he wanted the help first.”
“You’re right.” She sighed wistfully. “Sorry. It must be difficult to grow old…”
I nodded. “That’s why we should respect our elders.”
“That’s nice of you to say. I totally agree with you. We should treat our elders with the same respect we hope to receive for ourselves some day.”
Penny glanced down to an imaginary watch on her wrist. I understood what she was doing: trying to find a polite way to leave. I still use a similar tactic sometimes. “Well, it was interesting talking with you, Taylor. I should go.” She grabbed her book from the top of the Mullner’s mailbox and started off towards that tree she likes reading under. I didn’t catch the title, but Shannon Hale was the author of whatever book she had that day.
“Okay. Have a good day!” I called out as I started off to Clint’s blacksmith shop. I had a growing selection of geodes I wanted him to break open before I had him upgrade my pickaxe over the weekend.
Chapter 6: Basically, Dark Souls
Abigail’s 2 Heart Event
Saturday, Summer 6 Year 1:
Yesterday I had found another quartz in the mines and today I decided to stop by Abigail’s to share it with her.
She left the door open to her bedroom, and was sitting on a cushion playing a video game. She must have died, because she threw her controller into a cushion out of frustration.
“Abigail?” I called out.
She jumped slightly in her seat. “Taylor, you scared me, sneaking into my room like that!”
“Sorry. The door was open. So what are you playing?” I asked.
Abigail sighed and waved me over, welcoming me into her room. “So I’ve been playing ‘Journey of the Prairie King’ for hours and I can’t even beat the first level… This game is ridiculously hard! Well, either that or I’m terrible at it.”
Wait, did she say ‘Journey of the Prairie King’ or ‘Dark Souls’? Regardless, I understood the frustration. I’ve tried the arcade version of the game in the Stardrop Saloon, and I couldn’t get past the first level either.
“No; it’s hard.” I agreed.
Abigail eyes lit up from an idea. “Hey, do you want to try this level together with me? I think I might do better with your help.”
“Sure. Let’s do it!”
I walked over and sat next to her, taking the second controller. I took a minute to relearn out the controls, and then the level started.
“Here they come!” Abigail exclaimed as the first of the enemies appeared on the screen. For the most part, I followed her character and shot at the enemies opposite of where she was already shooting enemies. It was a fairly effective method; we each died once. Finally, it happened: we finished the first level.
“Hey, we did it!” She cheered. I exhaled contently with what we accomplished. Abigail turned to me, and we high-fived.
“Hey, that was fun! Thanks Taylor. I didn’t think you’d know how to work a joystick so well, but it seems you’re experienced.”
Barely, I didn’t play video games very frequently. I appreciated the compliment though.
After hanging out with her, I finished a bundle for the junimos consisting of grapes, a sweet pea, and a spice berry. In turn they gave me 30 seeds for more summer foragables. Still more notices with requests appeared in the boiler room and vault for items. I wonder if I’ll ever finish meeting their requests.
Chapter 7: The Spark
Elliott’s 2 Heart Event
Sunday, Summer 7 Year 1:
I foraged in the forest and made my way to the beach. I picked up a few shells when I had the idea of giving Elliott one of the spice berries I found.
Was he home? I walked over to his cabin and knocked at the door.
A couple seconds later, Elliott opened the door. “Taylor!” He exclaimed in pleasant surprise. “Come in.” I stepped through and for the first time entered his home. “Welcome to my humble… well, shack.”
At least he’s aware. The first thing that caught my eye was his piano. I wondered if it was tuned. “It’s a cute abode.” I commented, still unsure of why he spent so much time in here.
“Thank you.” Elliott averted my attention to a desk covered in papers. “This is my writing desk. It’s where I spend most of my time.”
I glanced at a brief poem on one of the papers, then remembered Emily’s comment from a few days ago about poetry. “You’re a writer?” I inquired.
Elliott nodded proudly. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Have I told you that?” I shook my head. “That’s why I live out here by myself. I figured a lonely life by the sea would help me focus on my literary aspirations.”
I could imagine the white noise of the waves being a pleasant sound to write to.
Elliott placed a hand on his desk, a couple fingers tracing along the wood. “Everyone back home said I was nuts… that I could never make it as a writer. Can you believe it? They said: ‘For every successful author there’s a thousand who fail miserably’. Such pessimism… it’s sickening.”
I nodded. I’ve been in a very similar pair of shoes. I’ve loved writing stories since elementary school, and worked on and off on my own novel, the origins of which can be traced back to third grade. I’ve been warned by a school janitor who wrote in his spare time that “writing may put bread on the table, but it won’t provide the butter,” indicating that it doesn’t pay well. Eventually when I attended university, I decided to follow a better-paying interest and pursued an engineering degree. I figured the more marketable skills I have, the better paid I would be, and thus I’d have more time to make for my writing hobby. It’s sad to remember that that’s not how it turned out for me.
I hoped Elliott would find success. From what I’ve skimmed, he has the potential. Elliott looked deeply into my eyes, and it felt as if he was staring into my soul.
“I can see it in your eyes… you believe in me, Taylor. You’ve got that spark.”
“I occasionally write stories myself…” I blushed. “I know how hard it can be to overlook other’s discouragement and finish a story. I really wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.”
Elliott smiled and began to glow in hope. “Now that’s inspiring! That’s what I’m looking for…” He sat at his desk and scratched out a couple ideas with a pen, then turned to me. “A question… What kind of books do you like, Taylor?”
With an exception for anything too graphic, I’ll read just about anything. “I read almost everything, but mystery is probably my favorite.” I recently read some Agatha Christie stories at that point in time.
“Mystery, huh? It’s definitely an exciting genre. I’ll remember that.”
Elliott wrote another sentence, then stood up to face me. “Well! Enough talk about me! How are you? I hope your new farming life is panning out as you hoped?”
“It’s certainly been a learning experience, but overall, it is well.”
“That is fortunate.” Elliott glanced to a wilted flower he was growing on his writing desk. “Hmm… you probably know a lot about plants, don’t you?”
“Enough, I suppose. Why do you ask?”
“Would you mind taking a look at this rose, here? I’m afraid it’s not doing so well.”
He gestured me over to his desk, and I looked at the rose more closely. I sniffed and detected the problem immediately.
“You’re watering it with seawater, aren’t you?”
Elliott turned slightly pale. “Well, that wasn’t intelligent of me…”
“Just use water from the river or wherever you get your drinking water. Maybe add a pinch of sugar in the water when you can. You can still save it.”
Elliott smiled. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I have to get going now, but I’ll see you another time?”
“I’d like that.”
I made it down to level 35 of the mines that day before relaxing at the bathhouse for an hour then chopping down more trees at the farm.
Chapter 8: Feeling Lucky
Monday, Summer 8 Year 1:
Today became a laundry day. Robin had been letting me take a load up to her place the last few times I’ve done laundry since my house doesn’t have a washer and dryer yet. (Apparently that comes with the kitchen upgrade.) Some accident at the house made it so that she couldn’t have me do laundry there today, but Marnie opened her place up for me to do so while she took the day off and Shane and Jas were out at work or schooling.
Marnie asked me to fetch her hairbrush from out of her bedroom. That was her biggest mistake. Her other ones involved not hiding her “bedroom business” very well.
The story begins with this letter I received from Mayor Lewis last Wednesday:
This is embarrassing… I lost my lucky purple shorts. I’m telling you because I think I can trust you. If you find them, bring them back to me DISCREETLY. I’ll pay well.
~ Mayor Lewis
I found the cursed “shorts” under Marnie’s bed behind a leg of the bed. At first, I ignored it, dismissing it as Marnie’s. Upon further inspection goaded by finding brown suspenders in a cracked-open drawer, I realized that neither article of clothing was her size. When I found that the purple wad of clothing was indeed a pair of “shorts”, it clicked. Those shorts are not an exterior garment. Lewis and Marnie are secret lovers, and unfortunately I now know why he considered those shorts “lucky”.
Ugh, the thought still makes me gag! I used a plastic bag I had to pick up the “shorts” without touching them, and hid them from Marnie as I threw them into the washing machine with my laundry. I did get her that hairbrush as well. I felt uneasy the remainder of my time there, and hurriedly threw everything from the washer to the dryer, then from the dryer to my laundry bag, then swiftly carried the bag home.
And that’s the story of how Lewis ineffectively talking with his lover resulted in me ending up with his lucky underwear.
Lewis’s big mistake was believing I was just like my grandpa in the sense that he was happy to help anyone out. Instead, I was like my grandpa in the sense that if I feel slighted enough, I will find a way to prank back as punishment. Even if the idea takes a few days to come, it will come.
I visited the saloon to unwind from the day’s terrible events. Gus could tell right away that it hadn’t been a pleasant day, so he was kind to me, even when I told him I didn’t want to talk about what happened. In return, I got him a sweet pea he liked. It turned out that it was his birthday, so that worked out well at least.
Chapter 9: </title></head>
Sebastian’s 2 Heart Event
Tuesday, Summer 9 Year 1:
I found more quartz, and planned to give one to Abigail against my better judgement. I thought I would drop one off to Sebastian as well while I passed his family’s house. He asked for one to place on his shelf on the noticeboard in front of Pierre’s shop.
His mom Robin was in town for the weekly aerobics class, so the front counter was empty. Demetrius directed me downstairs, warning me that he probably won’t be interested in guests. Then down I went to Sebastian’s basement room. The door was left open, just a crack. Slowly, I pushed the door open further with my finger and peered around the corner.
Sebastian was sitting behind his computer typing out something while the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge played softly in the background. I silently waved at him, quartz in hand, as I walked closer to his desk. Eventually, he noticed me.
“Oh, hey. Gimme one sec.”
I took a seat on his couch and looked at the various sci-fi posters he had on his walls, some of which looked like they’d been put up there for years. Sebastian triumphantly finished something up and removed his hands from the keyboard, then turned down his music. The wait was no longer than a minute.
“Okay.” He looked over to me. “Sorry about that, I just needed to finish what I was working on.”
I walked over to his side of the desk. “I get it. Don’t want to lose track of your thoughts. What are you working on, if I may ask?”
“I do freelance work as a programmer.”
“Neat. Do you use Java or C++?”
“I did some Python back in school. I wasn’t very good at it though.”
A corner of Sebastian’s mouth curled into a smile. “Cool.”
His phone beeped, indicating a notification. Sebastian picked up his phone and glanced at it. “That was an instant message from Sam… I guess he wants to hang out…” He groaned. “Ugh, I don’t really feel like going out today.”
I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. It was Sebastian’s mom Robin. She seemed surprised to see me down here. “Oh, hi Taylor.”
I waved back. She walked towards us to talk to Sebastian.
“Sebby, I know you don’t like it when I come in here, but I ran into Abigail at the store and she said she was looking for you.”
“Did you tell her I’m working?”
“I did… but she said she’d probably stop by anyway.”
Sebastian groaned. “Thanks for letting me know, Mom.”
Robin nodded. “You’re welcome.” She then went back upstairs.
Sebastian then slumped in his chair and sighed. “No one takes my job seriously. No one ever bothers Maru when she’s working at the clinic… does everyone think I’m just surfing the web all day?”
I shrugged, unsure of how to respond. “So…” I attempted to change the subject. “What are you hoping to do with programming? Maybe a career outside of freelance work someday?”
“Well, I’m trying to save up so I can move out of here. Probably to the city or something.” He paused to think for a moment. “You know, if I’d gone to college I’d probably be making six figures right now… but I just don’t want to be part of that corporate rat race, you know?”
“Absolutely. It’s a trap.”
Sebastian grinned. “Well, and I guess I just feel more comfortable hidden behind the computer than dealing with people face-to-face.”
“Other than friends every once in a while when you don’t have to work?”
Sebastian sighed, this time with in frustration and more in… exhaustion? “Yeah… I like having friends; I just need a lot of time alone to balance out the social stuff. Sam’s the opposite… he goes crazy if he’s alone for too long.”
I smirked; I could totally see that in Sam.
“Maybe that’s why I like computers so much… They’re engaging, straightforward, and unselfish. Quite the opposite of a lot of people I know.”
I understood that sentiment. For Sebastian’s sake, I hoped his friends wouldn’t suddenly turn their backs on him because of misunderstanding alone time needs. It’s not a fun position to be in, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Sebastian cracked his knuckles and started typing out more code into his computer. “Well, I should get back to work… I need to get this module finished by tomorrow.”
I got up to leave. “Okay. Good luck.”
Chapter 10: Strawberry Pi
Wednesday, Summer 10 Year 1:
I noted today was Maru’s birthday, so when I went up to the mines, I brought her some of last season’s strawberries I had saved up. She loved it! Apparently they’re her dad’s favorite too, so I’m writing that down here so I remember when his birthday comes around.
“Are you enjoying the season?” she asked. “It’s been so warm this year.”
I shrugged. “There wasn’t nearly as many air-conditioned places to duck into as there were in the city. I still wouldn’t trade the farm to go back though.”
“That’s fair. I worked in the clinic yesterday. Probably the best place for air conditioning if you’re ever dying out in town. Feel free to come visit. I work there Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
“Aren’t you busy?”
“Not usually this time of year. Besides an annual check-up, we didn’t have a single patient. I guess people get sick less in the summer.”
“That makes enough sense.”
Maru talked about her hobbies of tinkering with gadgets and also mentioned looking forward to stargazing this time of year. I wonder if she would let me join her; I never owned a telescope before, and I find the stars fascinating.
After taking off, I got to level 40 in the mines and acquired a slingshot. It’s nice to have the option to attack monsters from a distance, but my backpack is reaching its maximum capacity more often now. The mines are getting colder too, which was intriguing. I looked into level 41 out of curiosity and found so many more unique items, and iron ores in greater abundance. Monsters looked different, but seemed less aggressive in the sense that I could more easily keep them at a distance. I’d love to explore more; perhaps later this week. I’ll have to buy that backpack upgrade soon and go from there.
Oh yeah! I’ve concocted a simple plan to get back at Lewis. I plan to implement it tomorrow. It should be a fun day.
I got this letter from Lewis about the next town holiday:
Tomorrow we’re all gathering at the beach for the annual Pelican Town Luau.
The highlight of the event is the communal potluck. Make sure you bring something good to contribute! The governor himself is attending the event, so make sure you’re on your best behavior.
Come to the beach sometime between 9 AM and 2 PM.
~ Mayor Lewis
He disgraced me with his dirty underwear, so of course I’m going to embarrass him in front of the governor! The current plan is to to swipe the town flag, then raise those lucky shorts up the flagpole at Willy’s shop. We’ll see if I’m successful tomorrow.
Chapter 11: The Luau
Thursday, Summer 11 Year 1:
The prank on Lewis ended up better and worse than I expected.
To set the stage of my innocence, I explored around the Luau decorations and chatted with some people. The scene was almost comedic; Maru hovered over by Linus’s roast, Emily was lost in her own world on the dance floor… even Haley looked like she wanted to dance, but decided she didn’t want to get sweaty.
Wizard M. Rasmodius was there too. I found him at the end of the dock furthest away from Willy’s shop. He mentioned that the merpeople get curious about the town’s festivities and dislike it when litter gets into the ocean. I already planned on avoiding littering (the last thing I need is for every fishing catch of mine to be some trash I threw into the ocean some time before), but I didn’t think merpeople were real until Wizard told me about them. I’ve come to accept the more mythological/fantasy tales he occasionally shares with me.
After talking with Rasmodius, I slunk over by Willy’s shop to do the deed. I was stopped by the tight and complicated knot at the pole.
I used to think I was good at untying knots, but not anymore.
Sam walked by and caught me. “Um, what are you doing?”
“Trying to undo this knot. You wanna give it a try?”
“I’m not very good…”
“What? Didn’t you have Boy Scouts or something?”
“The nearest branch is in Grampleton, and it’s not worth the trip.”
Crap, I thought. Abigail and Sebastian rounded the corner around Willy’s shop and spotted us. “Whatcha doing back here?”
Sam turned to me. I hung my head, then swore them all to secrecy.
“Okay. So, a week ago, Mayor Lewis sends me this letter, asking me to find him his lucky purple shorts.” I let them peer into my backpack so they could see I found them. “I’m not exactly thrilled about the situation. Please don’t ask where I found it. I just wanted to hang it up like a flag, one of those classic pranks, to get back at him.”
“You can blame Sam for the awful knot keeping the town flag up.” Abigail commented. Sam stared at her confusedly. “Don’t you remember the blanket incident from high school?”
Sam’s eyes grew wide, and he chuckled. “Oh, yeah… that was fun.”
“He stole a blanket of his that had his face blown up and printed on it, and hung it on that flagpole. Lewis put the actual flag back up and made the knot so complicated and tight so we wouldn’t do anything like it again.” Sebastian explained.
“We?” I raised my eyebrow.
The two boys gave each other funny looks.
“Well, so much for my idea of waving the shorts as a flag.” I shrugged my shoulders.
Sam peered over to the giant soup cauldron Marnie tended to. A wicked grin smeared his face. “Those shorts are clean, right?” he asked.
“Not when I found them, sadly, but they are now. Why?”
Sam subtly pointed towards the cauldron, where Caroline threw in a bunch of fresh vegetables as she chatted with Marnie. It took me a moment to register what he was thinking, but the moment it clicked in my brain, my jaw dropped, and I brought my hand to my mouth in case too quiet my voice.
“Sam, that’s terrible!” I hissed. He just cackled. “What about the governor?”
“Governor? Who cares? Why should I care about some random old guy?”
Eh, good point. From what I gathered from talking with him briefly, he mentioned considering getting he and his wife a summer home here, and comes here every year for the soup at the Luau. Lewis thought it a big deal to impress the governor, but for the most part, the townspeople just enjoy the food, and the presence or lack thereof of the governor didn’t affect their celebrations.
After pondering on it for another few seconds, I made my decision. “I’m going to do it.”
Sam looked slightly terrified for me initially, before grinning again.
“Do what?” Abigail asked.
“She’s gonna throw the shorts into the soup.” Sebastian replied.
Abigail’s eyes grew wide, and then she smirked. “Aw yeah…” She offered to distract Marnie for me when I went over to the cauldron. “If she catches a glimpse of it, tell her it’s a red cabbage.”
“But I haven’t seen any seeds for red cabbages.”
“Dad couldn’t get them this summer. With any luck, he’ll get them next year. You should try the travelling cart that comes around every Friday and Sunday. Sometimes she’ll bring the oddest things from out of the country, but who knows what she’ll charge for it?”
To appear less conspicuous, we decided to head back to the beach in pairs. Sam walked with Abigail first, then walked over to Penny so as to appear non-involved while Abigail walked over to her parents, who were standing near Marnie.
“It’s not the first time we’ve sabotaged the soup.” Sebastian said as we waited, then walked together.
He nodded. “One year Sam put a pound of anchovies in the potluck soup. Ever wondered why Sam leads the town in community service hours?”
“Because usually he’s the one doing the dirty work?”
Sebastian grinned. “You got it.”
He hung back at a totem pole, and I moved forward towards the cauldron. Marnie smiled and waved at me.
“Hi Taylor! If you brought something for the soup, climb the stairs and throw it in.”
Marnie turned and talked with Abigail about what she put into the soup. I caught something about her cows’ milk because it makes the soup base creamier. In the meantime, I wadded up the shorts in my backpack, and slipped them into the cauldron.
“Interesting…” Abigail nodded along. “Well, it was nice talking.”
When Abigail and I got out of earshot, she sighed deeply. “It’s tiring to socialize with everyone… I’d rather watch the sea.”
“Thanks for socializing for me.”
She shrugged contentedly and returned to the docks and sat down, letting her feet dangle over the water. I noticed Sam speed-walk from the soup cauldron and over to the food table. I went over to join him.
“Alright everyone!” Lewis loudly announced finally. “Let’s move forward with the Luau.”
“Good,” the governor muttered. “I’m feeling hungry.”
The two men ambled over to the cauldron. “Well folks, it’s time once again for the potluck ceremony. I trust that you all put high-quality ingredients in the pot this year. We don’t want the governor to regret his visit to the valley!”
“Bad soup hasn’t stopped him in previous years.” Sam whispered to me. “Not even his saltwater seafood allergy.”
Seafood? I turned to Sam to ask, but he had run off to hang with Sebastian.
“Well… Governor? Would you do the honor of tasting the soup?”
“Of course! I’ve been looking forward to this all year.”
Mayor Lewis took a giant ladle and scooped some soup into the governor’s bowl. The governor dipped his spoon into his bowl, and he brought it to his lips, sipping cautiously at the hot soup.
“Hmm… it’s a bit tangy… but actually, the flavor is quite good!”
Not quite the response I was anticipating. Too bad there was no way of ensuring that they would find the shorts right away.
“Just a minute… there’s something in my bowl…” He plugged his spoon into the bowl again and scooped up, sure enough, the purple shorts. Sweet Yoba, what luck! “What’s this?” He asked angrily.
Lewis looked like he would fall into shock. “Whaaaat?!” Even Marnie gasped.
“This… this is outrageous!” The governor stormed. “I’ve never been so insulted in all my life!” Before he could take any other action, he began to look sickly green. “Blech… my tongue is swelling up… I think I’m going to be sick.”
The governor held to the cauldron lid for support. Harvey and Maru raced over to the governor and escorted him to the clinic. It was awkward hearing him heave over the river on the bridge into town.
Mayor Lewis turned to the rest of us townies, infuriated. “Whoever took part in this appalling act is truly reprehensible. Using my very private item for this sick purpose! And to ruin a perfectly good soup… unforgivable! I’ve never been more ashamed of this community… truly disgusting.”
I didn’t dare make eye contact with him, choosing instead to look past him towards town.
“Go home, the festival is over.” Lewis stormed off towards his manor.
Disappointedly, the people began cleaning up around the beach. Pierre and Demetrius carried the cauldron away, and Leah and Elliott scoured the beach picking up litter. I awkwardly slunk back over to Sam, Sebastian, and Abigail. Thankfully, they were not disappointed.
“I guess the ‘little prank’ didn’t go over too well…”
“He’ll get over it.” Sam assured me. “The governor too.”
“Clean shorts shouldn’t have elicited that bad of a reaction.”
“That’s because his body wasn’t reacting to the shorts.” Sam quickly revealed an opened tin of JojaMart sardines, still filled with the fish but emptied of the juices, then re-pocketed it. I shook my head as he grinned smugly once again.
“This is why we can’t have nice things.” I muttered jokingly.
“Speaking of nice things…” Sebastian started cleaning up some litter around where the soup cauldron used to be. “Hey Abby, you got a small plastic bag?” She extended one to him. “Thanks.”
I watched him pick up the shorts with the bag in a way that allowed him to put it in the bag without ever touching the shorts. He then passed the bag to me. “The poor mayor forgot these, so I guess you can taunt him again sometime.”
“Yeah, I’d better give him at least a month to recover from today.”
“I dare you to put it on display at the Stardew Valley Fair in the fall.” Abigail prodded.
“Heh,” I chuckled. “We’ll see.”
Chapter 12: You Have Disturbed The Dirt
Maru’s 2 Heart Event
Friday, Summer 12 Year 1:
After fishing all morning, I planned to talk to Robin about plans some building upgrades in the future, specifically to ask about what supplies I would need. (I wanted to get a barn for some cows. Man, there’s so much stuff to get!) Unfortunately, she was out of the shop at the moment. Instead I found Maru and her dad Demetrius working on something in a laboratory.
“Oh, hello there!” Maru beckoned me into the lab. “My Dad and I are just testing some soil samples.”
“Interesting. Shall I leave you two to it?”
“Ah, don’t be shy! We could use a hand, actually. Could you watch this beaker for me?”
“Sure.” I walked over to the table Maru was testing at and she pointed out the designated beaker.
“I’m gonna grab the last batch of samples. I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared out of the house before I could ask her what I should watch for. I awkwardly glanced back to the beaker.
Demetrius looked over my direction. “Thanks for helping out, Taylor.”
“Heh, no problem.” I gave a little laugh.
He turned back to the samples he was working on. “Maru’s a good kid,” he commented. “She’s my special little girl… I wouldn’t want anything getting in the way of her bright future, know what I mean?”
His sentiment reminded me of my own dad, who used to teach high school science classes. Thanks to him, I knew the names and order of all nine planets (because back then, there were nine) in the second grade. Then I dwelled a little longer on what Demetrius said, then ended up confused.
“Wait… what do you mean?”
Demetrius chuckled. “Just some food for thought,” was all he said.
I heard the front door open, and Maru returned with more samples.
“Hey, sorry about that.” She apologized. “I hope you found something to talk about while I was gone.”
A brief, awkward silence, then Demetrius spoke. “…I was just telling Taylor about the soil samples we’re testing. Right Taylor?”
He looked over to me. I could feel myself getting nervous. I decided it was better to nod and say nothing.
“Well, we better titrate this solution before it crystallizes on us.”
“Okay! Here, Taylor, let me show you how to use the equipment.”
I picked it up pretty quickly from what I remembered from university chemistry classes. The beaker I was supposed to watch turned out to be pretty close to solidifying, but thankfully was liquid enough to work with their experiments.
“So, what are you looking for?” I finally dared to ask.
“Soil acidity.” Demetrius replied. “Most plants tend to grow best in slightly acidic soils. Usually the soils around here have the optimum amount of nutrients like phosphorus, but if the acidity levels aren’t quite right, it can lead to either deficiency or toxic levels of a nutrient.”
“And so what you’re doing is determining how much lime you might need?”
Maru turned her head. “How do you know – wait, it’s because you’re a farmer, isn’t it?”
“I did take a soil science class at Zuzu University a few years ago.” I nonchalantly replied.
Whatever cautiousness Demetrius had about me dissolved. Somehow I managed to pique his interest. “Impressive. Did you study environmental science?”
“As a minor. I don’t remember much and I never took a lab course.” His smile faded into slight disappointment. “The minor hasn’t really helped me until I started farming. At least I know there is such thing as too much fertilizer, and that the calcium carbonate in the fertilizers from Pierre’s is the liming agent meant to increase soil acidity, but I haven’t learned how to test the levels in a lab.”
“Well, we’d be happy to teach you.”
What they taught didn’t solidify in my brain right away, but I intend to continue learning what I can. Perhaps I could teach myself to make a higher quality fertilizer. Besides that brief, weird discussion alone with Demetrius, it was for the most part a pleasant evening.
Chapter 13: Ice Cream, I Scream
Saturday, Summer 13 Year 1:
Another birthday today. Unfortunately, it was Alex’s.
I didn’t find any sweet peas today, so instead I took out one of the potatoes I saved up from last spring. He seemed like a steak and potatoes kind of guy. It was well into the afternoon when I finally remembered that he would be tending his ice cream stand by the library.
Haley had just finished chatting with him and started for her home.
I considered hiding behind a bush and waiting for her to pass so I wouldn’t have to talk with her, but it was already too late when I thought to do so.
“Do you wear those clothes every day?” she asked under her breath.
“Pardon?” Looking back now, I think the days I wear jean overalls with my maroon shirt tend to coincide with the few days I do interact with Haley.
“Never mind…” Haley muttered. “Farming sounds so boring. What do you even do all day?”
“Plant care, mostly. Sometimes I explore the caves.”
Haley furrowed her thin eyebrows. “Hmm… sounds like a lot of work.”
“It is, but I don’t mind it. So what are you planning to do today?”
“I’ve decided I am going to organize my clothes today. I’ll have to throw out all of last year’s styles to make room for the new ones!”
I shrugged. “Now that sounds like a lot of work to me. Have fun with that.” I extended to her a sunflower I grew. I only bought one earlier this summer, but I keep getting more and more seeds each time a new one grows, so I kept planting more and more sunflowers. I thought there wouldn’t be any harm in handing a flower to someone I already knew liked them.
“Oh. My. God.”
Her tone startled me. Did she not like sunflowers? “What?”
She looked at the sunflower lovingly. “This is my favorite thing! Thanks!”
I quieted a sigh of relief. “Heh, no problem.”
Haley gave me what seemed like her first genuine smile. “Well, have a great day, Taylor.”
I returned her smile. “Thanks, Haley.”
She took off and entered her home. Maybe she isn’t so bad.
Remembering my mission, I walked on and finally crossed the bridge. I turned left and went over to see Alex.
“Hey, farm girl.” He waved. “What’s up? Isn’t your name, like, Taya, or something?”
“Oh. Right. Okay. Sorry.”
Huh. A moment of vulnerability. He seemed genuinely embarrassed.
“Anyway, Allen…” I joked as I passed him the potato. “Happy birthday.”
“Hey, thanks.” He placed the potato in a storage with his other belongings, including his beloved gridball. “Do you want anything before I close up shop? The vanilla ice cream is pretty good.”
“No thanks. I’m more of a strawberry fan, myself, anyway.” I lied. I love vanilla, and I find that a brand’s vanilla ice cream best determines if the other flavors will be any good. But I wasn’t going to give Alex the pleasure of acknowledging the double entendre, regardless of whether he intended it or not. It seemed very early in our acquaintanceship for him to even consider it, but who knows?
He didn’t seem to mean it that, as he had shrugged casually. “Suit yourself.”
Curse this infernal dirty mind. I spent too much time with the wrong people back in the city.
Alex closed up shop, pocketed his potato, and carried his gridball, tossing it high in the air. “Looks like a good day to play catch, huh? I’d ask you to throw the ball around, but you don’t seem like the sports type.”
He nearly fumbled the gridball. “What?”
“Don’t misunderstand: I’m perfectly fine just watching from a distance, but just because I usually don’t like to play doesn’t mean that I can’t.”
Alex cocked his head to the side. “Really? I guess I underestimated you.”
I raised my eyebrows as if to say: You think? “So, when are you gonna toss it over?”
“My arm’s a little sore, but maybe next time.” He took off towards his home.
I huffed. Coward.
Chapter 14: Gridball Dreamer
Alex’s 2 Heart Event
Sunday, Summer 14 Year 1:
This morning, I walked over to the beach to relax some and collect some shells. More have been showing over the last couple days since the Luau. According to a show on one of the few channels I could pick up on my television, it was crab mating season, and so an unusual amount of shells and corals have been appearing.
Near the shoreline, I spotted Alex throwing his gridball in the air and catching it. He saw me and waved.
“Um, it’s Taylor, right?”
“Yep, that’s me. You got it right today. How are you, Alex?”
“I’m just enjoying this great weather, Taylor.”
It was nice, I’ll give him that. I closed my eyes and basked in the sun and salty breeze. I loved the beach, regardless of what I was doing at it.
“Hmm… Hey, go long!”
I opened my eyes just fast enough to see him throw his gridball towards me. Startled by the oncoming gridball, I put my hands up to shield my face. The ball bounced up and landed behind me in the sand.
Alex smirked. “Heh… Nice try.”
“You could have given me a better warning.” I protested as I picked up the gridball.
“Heh, yeah…” He thanked me when I handed his gridball back to him. He looked out past the docks over the Gem Sea.
“I’m going to be the first professional gridball player from Stardew Valley.” He declared. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I already led my school’s team to the regional playoffs. Now I’m just training and getting stronger so I can claim my spot on the roster of the Zuzu City Tunnelers. You just wait!”
Ugh, he reminded me of those guys back in high school who think they’re all that and a bag of chips, only to realize that high school was when they peaked and that they meant nothing outside of their hometown. “Wow, you’re really arrogant.” I muttered.
Alex glared. “Hmmph… I think someone’s a little jealous.”
Jealous of what? Gridball’s an overrated sport anyway. I wasn’t going to say that aloud though, but I did roll my eyes. He reciprocated the action and turned away.
“I’m out of here.”
Alex left for town. At least I had the beach to myself. As I picked up several corals and shells, I reflected on our conversation and realized that I was probably too harsh on him. Even for guys like him, they probably don’t like the prospect of not being able to do anything after graduation. And who knows? There’s always some chance, even if it’s minuscule.
I should apologize. Does he like eggs?
Chapter 15: Feeling Blue
Clint’s 3 Heart Event
Yesterday Pam put in a request for pale ale. I guess the saloon was running low this week. Today the hops I put in a keg yesterday became the ale, and so I delivered it to her at the saloon today. She seemed grateful to have it.
I noticed Clint was sitting at a different part of the saloon tonight. He picked out a bluesy song on the jukebox and took a seat. He looked a little saddened. I was already walking towards his direction when he lifted his eyes and saw me.
“Hello, Taylor… care to join me?”
I shrugged my shoulders, then took a seat at his table. “Sure. Are you alright, Clint?”
He sighed. “Let me just go ahead and tell you what’s on my mind. I have terrible luck with women, Taylor… I’m a nice guy if you get to know me, I swear!”
Oh no! Not romance drama! Of anyone else in this town, I’m probably the least experienced or qualified to give romantic advice.
He took a swig of beer. “You’re a girl, Taylor. What advice can you give me?”
Ugh, without context, what could I share?
“I’m not sure what to say… Treat women the same as men? From what I’ve seen, the best relationships started off as just friendships, so perhaps focusing on building a stronger friendship now will give you a better opening for something more later.”
Clint thought on it for a moment. “Okay… I’ll keep that in mind.”
“If I may ask… who’s the girl?”
At that moment, Emily came in from the back room and towards our table. “Hi Clint, what can I get for you tonight?” She asked in her usual cheerful tone.
“Yes! Er… I mean, I’ll have the Big n’ Cheesy. With extra sauce, please.”
His brief enthusiasm followed by retreat gave his crush away, but only to me, it seemed.
“Okay.” Emily then turned to me. “Hi Taylor.”
“Hey, Emily. I’m good for tonight, thanks.”
“Er…” Clint cleared his throat, but it didn’t do enough to hide that his voice became a little more shaky. “Th… Thanks, Emily. For… taking my order. Um, Emily? I was…” He gulped. “I was wondering…”
Emily turned back to him. “Yes, Clint?” she asked innocently.
“…Never mind.” He finally replied.
“Okay then.” Emily shrugged. Clint frowned after she left our table. Emily went on to fill a mug with beer from the tap and passed to Shane, who was sitting at the bar.
“Hi Shane! Here’s your beverage.”
“Thanks Emily!” This must have been one of Shane’s better days; he returned Emily’s smile. “So… how’s your shift coming along?”
“It’s fine! Thanks for asking, Shane! Do you have any new chicken stories for me?”
Shane went on to talk about one of his chickens named Charlie. Besides when he was with Jas, this was probably the only other instance I could think of where Shane appeared happy.
Clint sighed. “I’m doomed…” he muttered. He still wasn’t brave enough to talk with her before the end of the evening.
Maybe Emily was right about our destinies intersecting. Perhaps one of the many reasons I needed to come to Stardew Valley was to help Clint acquire the confidence he needs to ask her out.
Chapter 16: Store Wars
Tuesday, Summer 16 Year 1:
I made sure to catch Robin at her carpenter’s shop exactly at 9 AM, just before she took off for town, and commissioned her to build a barn.
“Okay, I’ll start working on your new barn first thing tomorrow morning!”
“Thanks Robin!” I turned to take off.
“Where are you going?”
“Uh… to Pierre’s.”
“Hey, me too! Give me a minute. I’ll walk with you.”
Oh, okay. I wasn’t used to walking with others for an extended period of time. Hopefully, she would fill in more of a conversation. Robin snatched her purse and we left her shop.
“I’m going to Caroline’s dance aerobics class this afternoon, and then get some groceries.”
“Nice. I was just going over to join Abigail for lunch.”
“Abigail’s a sweet girl… a little more rough around the edges than her mom would like, but in that way, she reminds me of me when I was younger. My parents were bewildered when I told them I wanted to be a carpenter.”
Robin shrugged. “They were pretty old-fashioned.”
“It takes a while for people to adjust to the idea that some careers don’t have to have a gender. It’s better now, I think.”
“You went to college, right?”
“Demetrius too. He studied Environmental Science with a Master’s emphasis on soils. We’re hoping Maru will go there someday. She picked up my practicality and wants so save money so she won’t have to take out loans to finish schooling. But what about you? What did you go into?”
“Thanks.” I blushed. I wasn’t far from the bottom of my class, and it took me a while to feel proud that I at least qualified as an engineer.
“I wonder if Sebastian would’ve liked to try that. Probably software engineering. Sometimes I worry about him… he doesn’t have many friends and doesn’t really seem to care about his future very much. I would talk to him about it but he never opens up to me.”
Last week flashed through my mind, but I ended up not saying anything in reply, as we had arrived to Pierre’s at that point. I bought an apple tree sapling, then Abigail stole me away while Robin chatted with Caroline. She offered a lunch of fried eel. I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but it tasted pretty good.
“It’s good, but spicy eel is my favorite,” Abigail mentioned.
“Huh. Perhaps I should swing by with hot peppers more often so you can have some.”
“Or you can get more seeds so you can grow more of them.” Caroline piped in when she came in to grab some water bottles.
Heh. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so many more blueberries than peppers. “It’s a little late this season, but maybe next year.” I concluded.
Caroline shrugged. “Okay, I’m holding class in the main room.” She waved as she left the kitchen. “You two take care!”
“Oh, I forgot my phone in my room. I’ll be right back Taylor.” Abigail took off as well.
I sat at their dining table, awkwardly alone, but not wanting to interrupt the activities in the next room. So I stood up and walked around the kitchen. There was one drawer that was slightly ajar, and I recognized Joja Co. stationery of the letter in the drawer. Curiosity got the best of me, so I pulled it out of the drawer and read it.
To Mr. Pierre:
It pains me to be the bearer of bad news, but I feel obligated to inform you of a recent development most threatening to your livelihood. Joja Co. has decided to expand into Pelican Town. It’s too late for protest. Joja Builders have already broken ground for the new JojaMart.
This must be devastating news for you. So many years in business… a local standby… and now, obscured by the shadow of a powerful, efficient, economically viable corporation. What a shame!
As manager of the new JojaMart, I feel, to some degree, personally responsible for your predicament. As such, I’d like to offer you a position as Assistant Grocer. Wages start at 5g an hour. I look forward to seeing your resume!
~ Mr. Morris, Manager
Pelican Town JojaMart
The letter was addressed at least three years ago, but it still infuriated me to see that Morris has been a prick for much longer than just last season.
I turned to see Abigail, who caught me with the letter. “Oh, sorry. I shouldn’t have…”
Awkwardly, I put the letter back into the drawer. “Morris is a prick.”
“Yeah, that’s the nice way of putting it.” She went on to explain that business became difficult after my Grandpa passed away, and that was when they started a little garden behind the shop so they could at least provide some produce. Joja Co. moving in only made things more difficult, and the only reason he has the letter is just in case things got even worse. “The worst part is, we can’t do anything to retaliate. Dad’s not very close to what’s left of his customer base, and the shop isn’t stable enough for any of us to get away with giving Morris what he deserves: a solid punch to the jaw.”
It was about then that an awfully wonderful idea came to mind.
“Abigail, what if I prank them? I could break in and trash the store somehow. Nothing drastic enough to bring in the police, but enough to scratch heads.”
Her eyes gleamed sinisterly. “What should I do?”
“Nothing. I don’t want Morris to be able to trace it back to you or your family.”
“Do you have experience with breaking into places or something, Taylor?”
“I may or may not have gotten suspended in high school for leaving a letter at the principal’s desk, telling him he made a stupid decision and mistake…”
Abigail laughed aloud. “I would have never thought you’d have that in you, Taylor.”
“Me neither. Imagine if Penny did something like that. That’s basically what it was like. I was the good, brilliant kid of one of the most beloved teachers. Heh, Dad probably had more friends my age than I did then. Anyway, how much grass starter can you spare?”
We waited until after closing, 11 PM. Since this JojaMart is in such an unbusy part of the Ferngull Republic, the company didn’t bother installing security cameras, so that was nice not having that obstacle to worry about. Locks are still a thing, of course, but apparently Abigail knows how to pick locks. I told her if anyone asks, I did it.
I spent the evening after closing carefully removing floor tiles, putting down dirt and grass seeds, and placing the tiles back on top of them. With any luck, the grass would sprout quickly; it’s already a pretty low maintenance plant that can grow like weeds.
Wednesday, Summer 17 Year 1:
My heart sank when I realized it was Sam’s birthday today. He didn’t deserve the extra work that my trouble in Joja would bring him.
After planting the apple tree sapling at the corner of my house next to the pomegranate tree, now halfway grown, I dug into my mini-fridge for a few hot peppers and some leftover pizza from the saloon the night before, and decided I would gift Sam and Shane lunch today to make up for their inevitable future work troubles.
I first caught Shane on his way into town and passed him the hot peppers. He seemed to be in an okay mood, but I kept my delivery short and to the point. “These are for you.”
He seemed surprised and skeptical due to my skittish behavior, but accepted them. “How’d you know this is my favorite?”
“It was a guess. You favor the spicy food at the town festivals, so I thought, maybe…”
Shane returned the slightest of smiles before taking back off for work. “Thanks.”
I used the opportunity to stop by Sam’s family’s home. His mom Jodi greeted me at the door.
“Good morning, Taylor! What brings you here?”
“I’m looking for Sam.”
“Oh! He’s already taken off for work.”
Welp. I gave Jodi a quick apology and raced towards the JojaMart, hoping Sam hadn’t arrived to work yet. Luckily, I caught him on the bridge between Pierre’s and the JojaMart.
“Sam!” He stopped on the bridge and turned towards me. I extended the pizza towards him. “Happy birthday!”
Sam eagerly picked up the box. “Aw, yeah! This is my absolute favorite! Thank you, this is great.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, pointing towards the JojaMart. “I have to get going to work today, but I’ll talk to you later?”
“Sure thing. I hope work doesn’t suck too bad today.”
He took off, and I assumed a position fishing on the bridge. Abigail joined me shortly after Sam left.
“So, how’d it go?” she asked.
“We’ll see.” I replied ominously.
“See about what?” Penny walked by and stood on the bridge with us. Abigail and I glanced over to the JojaMart briefly. Sam was just about to open the doors into the JojaMart.
“Three… two… one…” Abigail counted down.
Silence, then a chortle of laughter we all recognized to be from our friend Sam. He looked over our direction. Abigail returned his thumbs-up, and Sam swiftly entered the JojaMart.
Penny turned to me, an attempt at a scornful look on her face. “Taylor, what did you do?”
I lowered my voice. “I may or may not have broken into the JojaMart last night and planted grass seeds under the floor tiles…”
Penny covered her mouth to quiet her giggles. Abigail grinned.
“You didn’t tell me that today is Sam’s birthday.” I accused Abigail.
She shrugged. “Guilty as charged.”
“I knew he’d get a kick out of it anyway.”
Morris stormed out of the JojaMart. He stomped angrily as if steam were spewing out of his ears. “Whoever did this is going to pay!”
Whatever you call that look Jim gives the camera on The Office , that was the look I gave to Abigail and Penny. “And there ends my pranking career for another five years.” I muttered.
A grim look replaced Abigail’s mischievous smile. “Run.” She whispered.
“Scatter.” I told the girls. Penny walked downstream towards the library. Abigail walked towards the direction of her father’s store. I walked upstream towards the mines. Between my new size 32 backpack and other food I took with me, I made it to level 50 and found some tundra boots that warmed my feet and armored them better than the previous boots I wore. I plan on selling those old boots to Marlon sometime tomorrow.
This day’s prank was inspired by an old comic (https://peapupful.tumblr.com/post/149142920596/i-gotchu-sam-shane-a-really-quick-sketch-i), which was inspired by another written work (https://canspringpleasecomefaster.tumblr.com/post/149096995606/since-its-possible-to-plant-grass-inside-the).
Chapter 18: Beach Boys
Sam’s 3 Heart Event
Thursday, Summer 18 Year 1:
After the usual farm chores (and waiting for Alex to leave), I strolled to the beach with plans to relax some while gathering shells. Sam was there with his little brother Vincent. Vincent was building and playing with a sand castle while Sam stood back and looked. I decided to walk up to Sam and talk with him for a bit.
“Hey, Sam.” I waved to him.
“Hello, Taylor. Nice day, isn’t it?”
I inhaled the salty breeze. “It is nice.”
He gave me a funny look. “Nice work in the JojaMart yesterday.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about…” I replied mostly in deadpan.
Sam chuckled. “You even got a smile from Shane yesterday.”
“Really? I’m surprised.”
“Sorry if I ended up overworking you guys.”
“No worries. I’d ask you to do it again if it means I get to watch Morris’s jaw drop to the floor again.”
We laughed together. I like his easy going nature.
“So, whatcha doing?” I asked.
“I’m just keeping an eye on my little brother. It’s good for him to get some fresh air on a day like this.”
“Makes sense. I didn’t live this close to a beach growing up, but I always loved to visit on family vacations.”
Sam smiled. “Our Dad used to take us to the beach on sunny days like this.”
Wait, Sam has a dad? Why hadn’t I seen him or heard of him before? Before I could ask, Vincent perked up at hearing of his dad, and walked up to Sam.
“Sam…? Is Dad ever going to come home?”
Sam hesitated before kneeling down to Vincent and placing a hand on his shoulder. “Of course, Vince. Dad’s going to come back as soon as he possibly can.”
Vincent began to tear up. “But I heard some grown-ups saying that… that all of our troops are getting shot to pieces.”
Sam’s eyes widened with surprise and his mouth gaped open. “Don’t believe everything you hear!” He took a second to regain his composure. “Don’t you remember how strong Dad is? He’d never let a pathetic Gotoro grunt get him like that! Don’t you worry!”
Sam squeezed Vincent’s hand. “And always remember that Mom and I are here to play with you if you ever feel lonely. Okay?”
“Okay!” Vincent cheered. He gave his brother a hug, then went back to his sand castle to resume digging with his shovel and filling up a bucket.
Sam stood back up. He looked relieved, but a little crestfallen. He glanced at me and gave a bittersweet smile before looking out over the sea.
“I didn’t know about your dad…” I said quietly, embarrassed. It’s easy to forget about the current war against the Gotoro Empire when you don’t have the news easily accessible or frequently flying in your face. “I’m sorry. He’ll make it back, right?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “To be honest, I have no idea if my old man will come back… We’ve all read the reports. Our soldiers are falling by the thousands. But what am I going to say to Vincent?”
“You did the right thing.” I assured him. “Kids should have hope.”
Sam thought for a moment. “Yeah… kids should play and have fun while they still have the chance.” He gave a faint smile. To my relief, he was visibly feeling better.
He turned to me. “Hey, did I tell you that the band’s starting to come together?”
“Yeah! It turns out Abigail’s a pretty good drummer. And Sebastian seemed to really want her in the band…”
“That’s great! How is the music coming along?”
“It’s a work in progress. With the rock genre, it’s pretty easy to include drumming and bass guitar, but Seb and I are still trying to come up with ideas to include more synthesizer. So far the best thing we got is a cool tune that sounds like it belongs in a high-energy dance song.”
Hmm, I’m curious about what that would sound like. We swapped some ideas of artists he and his band could use for inspiration (Fall Out Boy, for example), then we parted ways so I could visit Marlon, sell him my old leather boots, and inspect some of the swords in stock.
Chapter 19: Tomato Season
Friday, Summer 19 Year 1:
Demetrius’s birthday came up faster than I anticipated. Thankfully, I remembered Maru’s tip and had strawberries to spare for him. To avoid interfering with his usual Friday date night with Robin, I swung by his lab in the morning. He was looking at a data report and hadn’t started on anything in the lab just yet.
“Hmm…” he pondered aloud. “If strigolactone levels could be increased, would it have a proportional effect on mycorrhizal growth?”
It surprised me and scared me, but mostly disappointed me, that I somehow knew that he was talking about improving the symbiotic relationship between plants and a fungus.
“That seems like a safe hypothesis to me.”
Demetrius was initially startled, but relaxed upon seeing me.
“Good morning, Demetrius.”
“Oh! Thanks. Sorry. I was pondering some data and didn’t notice you there. Do you need anything?”
I extended to him a small box of strawberries. “Happy birthday!”
His eyes lit up. “This is amazing! Thank you.” He proceeded to eat one before walking them into the kitchen and placing the remainder on the counter.
Maru was doing her own thing, this time working on something in her bedroom. The sounds coming from there were metallic. I decided not to bother her yet.
“So how’s the farming business going?” Demetrius asked. “It’s tomato season, isn’t it?”
“Yep. I’m also growing melons, blueberries, and peppers.”
“Fantastic. I may need a fresh melon for my research. I’ll have to gather more data on the correlation between soil alkalinity and crop fructose levels before I’m sure, but once I know, I’ll send a letter to you tomorrow. Is that alright?”
“It should be. I saved a few from a harvest last week, and I still have more growing.” I need five gold star quality melons for the junimos, but only got two last week. I’m hoping I get three before the season ends.
Demetrius nodded. “That should work. Thank you, Taylor.”
The rest of the day proceeded as usual. Just before Clint closed, I gave him my pickaxe and some iron bars so he could upgrade it. Next, I planned on my axe.
I went fishing and managed to pull up an interesting treasure: a broken trident. It seemed like an unusual dagger, but it could deal at least three times more damage the steel smallsword I had, so tomorrow I’m going to sell the smallsword to Marlon and hopefully fight the monsters more effectively. My method of only drawing out one or two at a time is the biggest reason why I’ve been able to down so far. Where does it end again? I think I may have found a library book on the local mines, so I’ll have to consult it sometime.
I spent the remainder of the evening visiting with Leah at the saloon. When I told her I was probably half-way done clearing the farm of trees, she suggested that I use a tapper for some syrups. Considering how many copper bars I have, I think I will.
Note to self: leave a section of the farm with trees. Southwest corner?
Chapter 20: Thoughts on the Future
Shane’s 4 Heart Event
Saturday, Summer 20 Year 1:
Sure enough, I got a letter from Demetrius requesting a melon for his crop research. After finishing the farm chores and selecting a few, I swung by via mountain pass. Demetrius was pleasantly surprised to see me arrive so quickly.
“This is perfect! It’s just what I need for my research. It’s going to be hard not to eat it.”
I passed him another one, and gave a third to Robin. “There, now you can have your research and eat it too.”
“Thanks a bunch!” It warmed my heart to see the people of Pelican Town slowly warm up to me.
Robin was in her shop today, as she finished my new barn this morning. She asked if I could hang around a little longer, and I stuck around long enough to put in a request for building a fish pond, but I had another errand to run, so I didn’t stay much longer.
I took off towards Marnie’s ranch. I was looking to buy a cow or two, but initially Marnie wasn’t at the counter. I double-checked her sign to make sure I came during her hours, which I was. Then I heard her voice over in the next room.
“Shane?” I heard some knocking, then a door opening. I decide to look over into the next room. Jas was sitting at the dining table while Marnie was walking into her nephew’s bedroom. “Oh dear…” she muttered. She looked over and spotted me peering in.
“Taylor… can you do something?”
I shrugged and walked into the room with her. She gestured over to Shane, who was passed out on the floor surrounded by empty beer cans. “He’s out cold.”
I crouched over to him and checked for a pulse by placing two fingers on his carotid artery in his neck.
“Buhhh…” Shane moaned. I exhaled in relief. He was still breathing. All he’d need is to be woken up, and the first idea that came to mind to do that was pour water from my watering can over his head.
“Wha…?!” Shane shot up, rather awkwardly due to his drunken state. When he came to, he looked over to Marnie and I.
“Shane!” Marnie exclaimed. “What’s the matter with you? All you do anymore is mope around in your room and drink beer!”
Shane let out a frustrated groan, turned away from us, then finally spoke. “You wouldn’t understand…”
“I’m worried… What’s your plan? Don’t you ever think about the future?”
“Plan?” he scoffed. “Hopefully I won’t be around long enough to need a ‘plan’…”
I heard a sniffle. The three of us turned to see that Jas had snuck into the room. She ran out, sobbing. Marnie followed after her, leaving me alone with Shane.
“Jas…” Shane whispered, “I’m sorry…” He then knelt down, holding his head as he groaned in pain. A hangover headache, I think.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” He shouted before lowering his voice. “Please, just leave me alone.”
I lowered my head. “…Okay.” Before I left, I picked out a hot pepper from my backpack and left it on his nightstand. I wanted to say something, but again, I didn’t know what would help him. Regardless, I strongly felt I should keep an eye on him, just to make sure he doesn’t do anything rash.
Marnie and I were both somber when we made the transaction. I named my new brown calf Bessica. (It’s silly, but Bessie seemed too cliché and Jessica was the closest name that I could think of to Bessie. I’m not very good with coming up with names, you see.)
Chapter 21: Stuck in a Pickle
Haley’s 4 Heart Event
Sunday, Summer 21 Year 1:
Bessica seems lonely. Maybe in the fall, I’ll get her a friend. I want to upgrade my axe to an iron axe before the end of the season.
After I picked up my new iron pickaxe, I stopped by the two sisters’ residence again. Haley requested some tomatoes for the dinner she planned on making today. When I entered the home late afternoon, Haley was starting on dinner, and was struggling to open a jar of pickles.
I don’t know for how long she was struggling to do it by the time she saw me. At least she remembered my name this time.
“Oh, it’s you… Taylor, right?” I nodded in reply. “Say, you're pretty strong, aren't you?”
I shrugged. “I guess you could say I’m stronger than I was earlier last season.”
She grinned. “Great, then you shouldn’t have any problem opening this jar for me!”
Oh joy, slave labor. She placed the jar in my hand. Honestly, I had no idea if I could do it or if I’d end up exploding pickles everywhere, but somehow I managed to open it without making a mess of things.
“Hey, you did it!” Haley cheered. “You’re stronger than you look. Thanks!”
She was at least nice enough to offer some dinner, but she had only made enough for her and her sister before Emily took off for work, so I was careful not to take too much.
“Emily usually cooks dinner,” Haley mentioned after Emily left, “but she makes weird stuff like quinoa.”
I snorted lightly. “If done right, it can be good. I do prefer bread as my grain source, though. It tastes better.”
“Right? You understand!”
I shrugged. I wouldn’t understand her liking to magazines. I find the topics discussed in them (other people, usually) to be dull and boring. Maybe I could find a graphic novel in the library that we could bond over?
Chapter 22: Utinni
Monday, Summer 22 Year 1:
I ventured into the mines, and I discovered that my pickaxe could finally break that boulder by the shaft to the first level. Curious, I ventured into a little cave and found what looked like a Jawa from Star Wars. The Jawa stood by a treasure chest, a table, and some other various items.
The Jawa replied, but I couldn’t understand it. It spoke an unfamiliar language.
Realizing I wasn’t able to get anywhere, I decided to venture into the mines once more. I got past level 80 and entered a section that felt lava hot, and looked it too. How close was I to the center of the earth?
I didn’t make it to level 85 this time; the monsters were so much more different and powerful this time, and I didn’t want to risk my life learning the hard way just what they could do. I managed to bring up with me a scroll. I found three others with a similar text to this one, but varying colored ribbon holding them together.
I first detoured over to the calendar in front of Pierre’s. A new picture appeared on today’s date: it was the Jawa fellow. Who is he? Some dwarf-sized individual? Did anyone know of him besides me?
I turned to see Haley walking up towards me. For the first time, she seemed happy to see me. “Hi Haley. What’s up?”
“I found this new tool to open jars with online. A week from now, you won’t need to help me anymore.”
I gave a soft chuckle. “Well, that’s good news.”
“I thought so.” She giggled. “I’ll see you around.”
She walked over towards the bridge, presumably to talk with Alex at his ice cream stand again. I should actually buy something from him some time, but I didn’t feel quite ready to talk with him again. Unfortunately for me, I planned on giving Gunther the scroll I found, so to avoid both of them, I took the other bridge and walked around the east side of the museum before going in.
I presented Gunther with the scroll. He gave me a thick book in return.
“What is this?” I asked.
“A Dwarvish Translation Guide.” He replied. “You brought me copies of the four scrolls that led to this book’s writing and publication. I thought you may be interested in learning the language.”
It finally clicked that the Jawa is actually a dwarf. I got excited. “Thanks, Gunther!”
I raced out of the museum, book in tow, back to the mines. I quickly looked up the word for hello, then walked up to the dwarf.
“Hello.” I told the dwarf in his language tongue.
The dwarf picked up his hand, surprised to hear me speak the language. “Greetings.” He replied in my human tongue.
“My name is Taylor. What is yours?”
“My people do not have names for each individual. You may just call me Dwarf.”
Dwarf showed me his humble shop. I wasn’t interested in anything there at the moment, but remembering seeing his face on the calendar, I reached in my backpack for something I could offer him. I gave him a jade stone.
“I really love this.” Dwarf said. “ Xham anoe! Hey, you’re pretty good at mining, for a human. You can find great things in the mines.”
“ Xham anoe. ” I returned the thanks. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Dwarf.”
“You as well, Taylor.”
I fished in the mountain lake nearby and caught two rather large sturgeons. I sold one and saved the other for the fish pond that would get completed tomorrow morning. I felt pretty dang proud of myself. The only way the day could have been improved is if Dwarf actually was a Jawa. As a kid, I wanted to be a Jedi.
Chapter 23: Cave Carrots and Talking Goats
Tuesday, Summer 23 Year 1:
Marnie came to my front door early again. For a moment, I wondered if she had a stray puppy this time, but she came alone today.
“Good morning, Ms. Taylor!”
“Good morning, Marnie. What brings you here?”
“I came by to ask you a favor, since you’re such a kind neighbor.” I nodded to let her know I’m paying attention. “You see, I’m trying to train my goats to say ‘hello’… but they simply won’t pay attention to me unless I have their favorite treat: cave carrots! So… since I’m scared of the mines, I thought, well, maybe you would bring me a cave carrot when you have the chance? There’s no pressure… but if you want to, just swing by my house between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM with a cave carrot.”
“Work hours?” Marnie nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you!” She beamed. “You’ll make an old girl very happy. Bye.”
She took off back to her ranch to open her shop. After watering and harvesting the crops, I made my way towards the mines. At least cave carrots were usually at the lower levels. I zoomed through levels 10-20 tilling dirt and slaying bugs for guts I could use as fishing bait. It was 3:30 PM when I got out of the mines and said hi to the Dwarf. I would have loved to ask him more questions about dwarf culture, but there wasn’t much time today.
Instead of relaxing in the bathhouse, which I would have loved to do after mining, I raced to Marnie’s ranch. I made through the door just before she closed up shop.
I held out the cave carrot for Marnie. She rushed over from behind her counter. “Oh! You brought the cave carrot! Thank you so much, Ms. Taylor.”
“You’re welcome. I was surprised that I found so many so quickly today.”
“This looks great… I almost want to eat it myself! …Almost.”
She led me out a backdoor and into her barn and showed me some of her goats. They were less aggressive than I anticipated.
“This one is Louisa.” She introduced me to one who gently headbutted my knees. “She’s kind of the leader around here.” Marnie held out the cave carrot towards her. Louisa’s head picked up and she sniffed at the cave carrot. She tried to take a bite.
“Louisa, say ‘hello’.” Marnie prompted.
A couple more attempts later, and Louisa went from the usual goat bleat to an “Aaahh-woah” that sounded fairly close to a hello. Marnie saw it as enough.
“Very good, girl!” She applauded as she gave Louisa a cave carrot.
Some small footsteps scuffled in from behind us. “Aunt Marnie?” Jas called.
“Jas! Come here, Louisa here has something to say.”
Shyly, she trudged over beside Marnie, then peered over to Louisa. “Hello, Louisa.”
Louisa picked up her head, but said nothing.
Marnie patted her back. “Now, now, Louisa,” she chided. “Don’t go quitting on me so soon. Say ‘hello’!”
Jas giggled and ruffled the fur on top of Louisa’s head. “Hello to you too, girl.”
I gave Marnie another cave carrot and thanked her for showing me her goats.
“Thank you for bringing the cave carrots! I hope it wasn’t too much trouble… I really do appreciate it.”
“Hardly any. It was a more peaceful day in the mines today.”
“Well, that’s good. I’ll see you later, Taylor!”
I spent the rest of the evening collecting foragables in the forest.
Chapter 24: Something Fishy
Wednesday, Summer 24 Year 1:
I took some of the harvest from the last week to Pierre’s, only forget that it his shop is closed on Wednesdays. Oh well. On my walk back to the farm to drop off the goods in the shipping bin, I glanced at the calendar and realized that it was Willy’s birthday.
I was at a loss for ideas. Well, what do you get a fisherman? More fish?
I gave Clint my axe and the needed supplies so he could upgrade the axe immediately when his blacksmith shop opened. He was under the impression that the last thing a fisherman would want is more fish.
I visited the beach to forage some shells and coral. I tried asking Elliott for ideas of a gift for Willy, and he recalled a time where he gave Willy a diamond and he loved it. Unfortunately, it didn’t really help me, as I had no diamonds.
I headed into town to pace and ponder other ideas as I walked, only to be stopped by Harvey, who called out to me on his way out of the clinic.
“Err…” he retracted. “Your medical records finally came in from Zuzu City about a week ago.”
“Oh.” Well, the truth is out; I’m not up to date with my check ups. Not even close. Doctor’s appointments were rare when I attended university due to my out-of-state visits to my family, back when they lived an hour outside of Castle Village to tend to my other set of grandparents. After I started working at Joja Co, I simply didn’t make time for check ups. I was actually happy with this arrangement and hoped that my medical records hid for a little longer, as I felt uncomfortable at any appointment, regardless of the doctor. “Good to hear. Thanks.”
Harvey nodded. “Can I do anything for you?”
I shrugged. “I’m trying to come up with ideas for what Willy would like for his birthday. You probably can’t disclose your conversations with your patients though.”
“HIPAA Security Rule, yeah.”
“I figured.” I looked into a bush and found some grapes growing. I thought they were next season’s crop? I reached out and picked up the fruit, and ate one. Yep, they were grapes alright. I may not be an expert on foragables, but I knew enough to look at a plant and know whether it was poisonous or not.
I extended Harvey the small bushel I picked up. “Grapes?”
He looked at me like I had done something weird, which I guess wasn’t wrong. Besides children, who else finds a random something in the bushes and tries to pass it off as a gift to someone else? But he took the grapes. “Sure. Thank you. I like these.”
We sat down at one of the benches by the water fountain next to the playground and community center. Unfortunately for both us, neither of us were great at initiating conversation, so we sat in an awkward silence for half a minute.
“I’d like to get to know you better, Taylor.” Harvey finally said. “Let’s put aside our doctor-patient relationship.”
It was my turn to look at him funny. “I haven’t even been your patient yet.”
“Heh, I suppose not.” Harvey tried and failed to hide an ashamed blush.
“So…” I wanted to say something to ease his discomfort, but nothing useful came to mind. “You like jazz?”
Oh, I wanted to shrink and disappear. A meme; really Taylor? From The Bee Movie, of all movies.
That embarrassment lasted for only a second though.
“Yes, actually.” Harvey replied. “I have some albums of Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, and others in my apartment above the clinic.”
Wow. Not only he didn’t catch the reference, but he actually likes jazz. A chuckle escaped my throat. “Cool. I haven’t met anyone who listens to jazz regularly in a while.”
“I usually just let it play when I’m working on some paperwork.”
“Makes sense. It’s pleasant background music.”
“Yeah.” Harvey smiled.
Sturgeon, the thought spontaneously appeared in my head. I remembered the large catch of one from a few days ago. Maybe I’ll get lucky and catch another big one today that may or may not impress Willy. It’s a tricky fish from a spot he doesn’t go fish, so maybe he’d like it.
“I have an idea of what I’m going to get Willy.” I stood up and started off for the mountain lake. “I’ll see you later, Harvey!”
“Bye.” I glanced back long enough to see him wave behind me.
Three carp and a largemouth bass later, I finally got a sturgeon. I made it back to the beach well after Willy’s Fishing Shop hours, but he was standing out on the dock, fishing, a bottle of mead at his side.
“Happy birthday, Willy.” I handed him the fish. “I found larger ones the other day, and so I tried for another, but this was the best I got today.”
He grinned widely. “This is great! If only me ol’ Pappy was around. He’d go nuts for this. Thank you. Come, fish with me.”
I took out my rod and we fished late into the evening. At one point I asked him where his accent is from.
“Me Pappy and I are from the Fern Islands.”
The tropical paradise? This surprised me, and I nearly lost my rod to a halibut that bit at the same time I heard this. “Wow, that’s really neat! What brought you to Pelican Town?”
“Two things: More variety of fish, and smaller tourist season.”
I chuckled at that reply. I wonder what other stories he has to share of his life out surrounded by more sea.
Chapter 25: Always Sunny
Evelyn’s 4 Heart Event
Thursday, Summer 25 Year 1:
I received a request from George in the mail.
To Farmer Taylor:
My knee’s acting up again, and you know what helps? Rubbing the darn thing with a hot pepper.
Trouble is, my supply’s run dry. If you’ve got one to spare I’d be much obliged.
Thankfully, I had a few saved up from yesterday’s harvest. I didn’t go to the Mullner’s right away; I planned to venture into the mines for some items. I took a couple hot peppers with me. Even if it was an illusion, the hot peppers give a good sensation of warmth while I mined in the icy section past level 40. I also took with me a tulip and an egg for Granny Evelyn and Alex in case I ran into either of them. The egg as a peace offering, and the tulip because I learned from the various flowers I shared with her over the summer, this one was her favorite.
It was nearing evening when I got out of there, and I finally made my way to town to deliver George’s hot pepper. I’m a little skeptical about if it’ll work for his aching knee; if anything, I’d expect it to sting.
I entered the home and brought George the hot pepper. He was sitting in his usual place by the living room television. To my relief, no sign of Alex. Yet.
“Took you long enough. Hmmph…” George grunted as he took the hot pepper. For a moment, I wondered if he wouldn’t like it. He held it up to his eyes, looked at it, then gave me 200g before placing it on his knee. “Well, it’s good and spicy at least. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, George.”
“Oh! Taylor!” I heard his wife Evelyn call out from the kitchen. I’m ashamed that it took me that long to recognize the sweet aroma wafting from the kitchen. I walked over to see her.
“Hello, Granny Evelyn! It smells lovely in here. What are you making?”
She turned and smiled. “You’re wondering what that good smell is?” I nodded. “Why, that’s nice of you to say! I’m actually baking my famous cookies!”
“The ones you bring to some of the festivals?”
“That’s right, dear.” A tray of cookies sat cooling on the counter. A second tray was currently baking in the oven. Evelyn took a metal spatula and scooped a cookie off the tray. “Here, why don’t you try one?”
She placed the cookie in my hand. I thanked her before I took a bite. Mmm, I loved the taste! The chocolate chips were still melted, and the cookie had the perfect texture: hardened, but gooey inside, and the optimum ratio of chocolate chips to cookie.
“Well, what do you think?”
I made sure to swallow before I spoke. “It’s delicious!”
Evelyn glowed. “Thank you!”
A timer dinged, and I offered to take the cookies out of the oven for her. She graciously accepted. With her direction, I placed the cookie sheet on a hot pad on the counter next to the other tray of cookies.
George wheeled into the kitchen, following the smell. “Mmm… time for dessert?”
Evelyn laughed. “Let’s have dinner first, love.” She turned to me. “Why don’t you join us, Taylor?”
“Oh, I don’t want to impose…”
“Nonsense. You’re our guest here.”
Shyly, I accepted her invitation, and assisted in setting the table. George wheeled over by the trays of cookies. “Hmm… I see one cookie has already been eaten.”
“I offered Taylor one, dear.”
“And it sure was tasty.” I stated proudly.
“If you came half an hour earlier, you could’ve tried the cookie dough too.” A younger, deeper voice commented from behind me.
I turned around to see Alex. His hair was damp from a recent shower, presumably after one of his workouts. My nerves shot up, but I tried to ignore them, even though the last time Alex and I talked wasn’t on great terms. “Hey, Alex.”
“Hey, farm girl.”
“Alex,” Evelyn started, “Could you bring the pot on the stove over here so we can have dinner?”
Alex continued to stare into my eyes. “Sure thing, Granny.” He walked off to pick up the covered pot.
“What’s for dinner?” George asked.
“Steak and fried mushrooms with a side of vegetables.”
The men hummed in approval. Evelyn took her seat at the side of the table with only one chair. George wheeled beside her. I sat down across from Evelyn, and after Alex brought the pot to the table, he sat to my left. We each made a conscious effort not to touch, to my relief. After Evelyn offered grace, she started scooping up food, giving me a plate first. George’s plate was more mushroom-heavy than steak, and Alex’s was more steak-heavy than mushroom. Evelyn gave herself a helping smaller than my own.
“So Taylor, how is the farm work?” Evelyn inquired.
“Well enough,” I shrugged. “It’s nearing the end of the season, so only the corn stalks and some wheat are standing now.”
“My grand-pap was a farmer.” George said. “It’s a respectable profession. If I wasn’t so darned old I’d come to your farm and show you a thing or two…”
“Maybe if I figure out how to make a good stone path, I could make it easier for you to come by.” I offered. “I’m still figuring some things out as I go.”
“Heh.” George grunted. “We’ll see. At least it’s honest work.”
“It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.” I lowered my voice so only Alex could hear. I was met with a smirk he failed to hide. I sighed in quiet relief. Perhaps he’s forgiven me? At least he knows of dated memes.
“And Alex, how was your day today?” Evelyn inquired.
“Eh, the usual. Went to the beach, sold ice cream at the stand. Haley visited, but no one bought anything today. Yesterday was better when Sam and his brother swung by for a couple ice cream bars.”
“Well, at least it’s some business.”
“I guess so.”
I recalled seeing George watch an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, and while I wasn’t too familiar with the show, I thought my odds were good on using a meme that came to mind. Plus, it would be a good opportunity to give Alex a gift to make up for my mean comment a couple weeks ago.
“Taylor, did you have something to say?” Evelyn asked.
I raised a finger, a quiet request to give me a minute. I dug my hand into my backpack looking for the choice prop. Sure enough, an egg from earlier this morning was intact in its cushioned pocket. I pulled it out and held it out to Alex.
“Can I offer you a nice egg in this trying time?”
Alex cracked a smile, and George let out a soft chuckle. “You didn’t happen to find it under a bridge now, did you?” George asked.
I smiled and shrugged. “Nope, sorry.”
Alex accepted the egg. Both he and George became more comfortable with conversation and with me for the rest of dinner.
“That moment right there reminded me of your grandfather, Taylor.” George commented, referring to my quoting a television show.
“You knew my grandfather?” It was rare that I heard a story about Grandpa from Lewis, let alone anyone else in town who may have been here when he was here.
George scoffed mildly. “We lived in Pelican Town much longer than your grandfather farmed here, miss. He was about your age when he arrived, and at least ten years younger than Evelyn and I.”
“George and I were recently married when he arrived.” Evelyn reminisced with him. “He would occasionally share with us some of his harvest and asked George and I for farming tips.”
“Over the winter, he and Lewis would watch the Looney Tunes and attempt to impersonate the characters. He made a decent Yosetime Sam.” His eye ominously twinkled. “Mentioned once that his granddaughter could do a decent Bugs Bunny. Did he mean you?”
My jaw dropped. Grandpa remembered that? Then I blushed. “I was six, and it’s been way too long since then. I don’t know if it was even any good then.”
“Give it a try.” George encouraged.
“Yeah, give it a try.” Alex goaded.
All three looked at me expectantly. I was ready for the voice to crack and fail at any moment. “Eh, what’s up, doc?” I finally said with nasally tone. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say it was good either.
George shrugged indifferently. Granny Evelyn smiled. “I like it, dear.” She then gave Alex a knowing look. Alex’s eyes seemed to plead back no. Evelyn didn’t relent.
Finally, Alex sighed, turned to me, and with an unmistakable lisp, proclaimed, “you’re despicable.”
I shrugged, and continued with my mediocre impersonation, which improved the more I spoke in it. “For shame, doc. Don’tcha know it’s duck hunting season?”
Alex gaped at me, indignant. “That sir, is an in-mitigated frab-rication. It’s wabbit season!”
“I say it’s duck season, and I say: fire!”
Evelyn’s giggles evolved into full-blown laughter and even George lightly chuckled. Alex and I laughed with them, then complimented each other’s voices.
“Ah, timeless.” George sighed contentedly. “The Looney Tunes never seem to grow old.”
My heart panged at a bittersweet memory. “Grandpa used to say the same thing.”
We finished off the meal with some cookies, and Evelyn was kind enough to let me take a few home. She also slipped in a notecard.
“I think I’ve come to know you well enough to give you my recipe. Just make sure to keep it a secret.”
I smiled gratefully. “Wow, thank you.”
I bade Evelyn and George a good night. Alex joined me outside, and we stood under a streetlight near the saloon, pausing to watch the fireflies.
“Hey, Taylor.” He was quiet for a moment. “I’m glad you stopped by.”
“Thanks. Your grandparents are good company.”
Alex chuckled lightly. “They’re great. I’m not ashamed to say that I love my Grandma! Now Grandpa, on the other hand…” I gasped in pretend offense. “Just kidding.”
“Are you sure? I’ll happily take them as my grandparents if you don’t want them anymore.”
We laughed aloud. “Nah, I like them.” He replied.
Finally, I bade Alex good night, and took off for home while he tended to a fenced-off area in front of his house. I’m glad I gave him another chance. He has a good sense of humor.
Chapter 26: Check Up
Harvey’s 4 Heart Event
Friday, Summer 26 Year 1:
Maru mentioned yesterday after my adventure into the mines that Harvey wanted something from me. I didn’t recall any recent noticeboard requests, so I thought I would just swing by his clinic and ask him myself. This is the first time I ever stepped into the clinic, and even though Dr. Harvey is a family practice doctor, and one that I’ve gotten to know better than any I’ve visited before, I still felt nervous.
Harvey was sorting out some paperwork by the front desk when I came in.
“Ah, Taylor! I was just about to write you a letter.”
“Maru mentioned that you wanted something from me?”
“You see, my records indicate that you’re due for your annual checkup!”
“Oh.” I should have guessed. It had been a while; I think it was a little over two years, around when I accepted work at Joja Co. They didn’t want employees with mysterious fatal diseases coming in, but they didn’t seem to mind those addicted to any drug, as long as they got their work done. “Um… today? Right now?” I asked slightly timidly.
“Now, now, there’s no need to worry. It’ll be quick and painless.”
Harvey first gave me a survey to fill out at the counter, one of those ones that asked about health history and habits, and if there were any changes to them since my last checkup. Allergies, smoking, drinking, sexual activity, genetic dispositions, mental health, medications, you name it.
He left the room to set up the examination room and leave me alone and unpressured to complete the survey. The survey took me maybe five minutes. I was so tempted to leave the survey at the front desk and leave, never to return to the clinic again. Unfortunately, Harvey returned within the fifteen seconds I waited to think on the matter.
“Oh good, you’ve finished.” He picked up the survey and read through it, presumably for something specific by how quickly he skimmed through it. “Now, please follow me.”
At least there was no waiting period like there would be in bigger cities. Harvey directed me towards his examination room. Outside of the room, he had me stand on a scale. According to stupid BMI indexes I would have been considered slightly overweight, but I had lost ten pounds since I last weighed myself before moving to Pelican Town, so that was nice. I guess Alex was right about the farm work paying off, as much as I disliked him commenting on my body.
He used my time on the scale to measure my height. Not to my surprise, it was the same as it had been for at least the last six years. I don’t remember when I stopped measuring myself due to the lack of change.
Harvey then walked into the examination room. Briefly, I considered bolting it out of there, but quickly decided it wasn’t worth the trouble of disappearing from the whole town, trying to make a life elsewhere. I followed him in and climbed onto the examination table to sit down on it.
“Hmm… okay. Hold still, please.” He tested my blood pressure. Good, as usual. He checked my ears. Uninfected.
He took out a wooden tongue depressor. “Say ‘ahhh…’”. My throat was clear, and thankfully my overactive gag reflex didn’t trigger at the tongue depressor. “Okay, you can stop.” He then disposed of the tongue depressor in a nearby trash can.
“Almost done… I just need to check your vitals.” He placed the eartips of his stethoscope into his ears and placed the tunable diaphragm on my heart. I pinned my hands under my knees and gripped them to keep from moving too much. I slowly inhaled and exhaled as he directed. For someone who was screaming internally, I don’t know how I kept my cool.
“You’re breathing well.” Harvey commented about half a minute later. “The lungs are good… hmm… your pulse is high.”
There was no hiding my trepidation from Harvey, I suppose. Slowly, I exhaled. “I’m a little nervous…” I finally admitted.
“Oh! Hospitals make you nervous, huh?” I smiled weakly and nodded. He gave a warm smile. “Just try and relax. I’m here to help.”
“I know; it doesn’t make it any easier though…” I gave a light chuckle to let him now that I was at least alright at the moment. It worked; Harvey smile grew wider. He then removed the stethoscope and wrapped the tubing behind his neck on his shoulders.
“Well then! You seem very healthy, Taylor. Just make sure not to overwork yourself on that farm!”
I exhaled deeply in relief and started to leave the room. “Thanks, Harvey.”
“Thanks for stopping in.”
I nodded to him and finally felt myself again when the clinic’s front door shut behind me and I was back outside.
On my way towards the blacksmith, I walked by a small fenced-off area by the saloon and peered into it. In a humble wooden box, I could see a pair of eyes that seemed to glow.
I was peering over to the little fenced-off area sometime last summer, simply curious.
“Don’t mind that ol’ dog next to the house.” Pam told me on her way to the saloon. “He might look at you cross, but he’ll never get up from that box in a hundred years.”
There goes my hopes of luring the dog out of its house. As great as cats are, I find dogs much more fun to play with; the bigger, the better. They are also a little higher maintenance, unfortunately, so I’m glad Bella has been my company while I researched and learned some ropes as I maintained my farm.
“What do you call your dog?”
“The old boy’s name? It’s Dusty. And he’s not my dog.”
Pam entered the saloon before I could ask her who owned the dog.
I picked up my new steel axe from Clint and dropped off my watering can, as it would rain tomorrow, then went to forage in the Cindersap Forest. Trying my luck, I whacked my new axe on a large log north of Wizard Rasmodius’s tower. It actually put a good cut into it, unlike the previous versions of the axe. I chopped down the log and found a new section of the woods.
Slimes inhabited this area, unfortunately, but they didn’t seem to want to leave it either. After slaying them, I cut down some tree stumps for hardwood and found fiddlehead ferns. So many fiddleheads! I collected as many as I could before leaving the woods and heading home.
Chapter 27: Tea Time
Caroline’s 2 Heart Event
Saturday, Summer 27 Year 1:
I visited the Secret Woods again. (This is what Emily called them when I asked her about it.) I found more fiddleheads to forage. I planned on selling some of them to Pierre’s, but chose to first swing by Clint’s to get him to upgrade my watering can.
Pierre was pleased to see my new find and bought them readily.
“How has your day been?” I asked.
“Not too busy. Everyone’s enjoying the weather instead of shopping…” he sighed. “What can you do? Anyway, my wife’s in her sunroom tending to her plants. Could you do me a favor and send her out here? I want to talk with her about something.”
“Sure, I guess. Where is her sunroom?”
“There’s a door to it in the kitchen.”
I made my way over to the kitchen and found the door quickly enough. Caroline was there tending to a tea plant.
She turned to me. “Oh, hi! Good morning, Taylor. I’m glad you came in. I’ve been meaning to show you this… it’s my private sunroom. So what do you think?”
I looked around the place for a minute. It is a small glass room that felt slightly unpleasantly warm, but that is probably due to the summer heat. I could see Pierre’s garden just outside, which currently held no plants, presumably in preparation for the next season.
“It’s very relaxing.” I finally commented.
Caroline nodded. “Yes… when I step in here, I feel calm and relaxed right away. It’s really therapeutic! It’s my hobby. You see, this is my sanctuary, a place where I can always find peace… and it’s a perfect place to drink my home-grown tea!”
She poured a second porcelain cup with hot water and tea leaves, then extended it to me. “Here, let’s have a cup…”
I accepted the tea and took a sip. “Thank you.”
Caroline sipped at her own cup of tea. “Hmm… delicious. I love to come in here for a fresh cup of tea every day. It’s my little ritual…”
She thought to herself for a moment. “Uh… let me try to explain…” We sat down at a bench, staring at our respective cups of tea. “When I’m alone with relaxing tea, my mind is empty and free to wander. Who knows what might appear?”
She closed her eyes to wonder, and I followed suit. For some reason, I imagined some tall white humanoid creature with a long tail enjoying a cup of tea, purring like a dust sprite. She didn’t put more than just tea leaves in the tea, did she?
“I hope that makes sense.” I opened my eyes to see Caroline looking back at me. “Life can be pretty hectic, so having a hobby like this is nice.” I nodded in agreement. “Feel free to come here and relax any time you want, okay?”
“Okay, thank you.” I nodded again. If this means I can nab some tea leaves every once in a while, sure I’ll swing by more often. Then I remembered why I was sent here in the first place. “Oh yeah! Pierre wanted to talk with you.”
“Ah, yes…” Caroline acknowledged. “Back to the daily grind.” She set down her empty cup and left. I sat in the sunroom for a few minutes, thinking to myself before heading back out.
As I passed by Pierre’s shelves, I noticed for the first time rice shoots and tea saplings. “Are these new?” I asked Pierre. He just shrugged. I read the labels and details on how to grow them. Rice only grows in the spring, and tea saplings grows all year except for winter for twenty days before producing tea leaves daily. It made me wish that I found these earlier this year. Oh well. I only bought two of each, expecting to save the rice shoots for next spring and planting the tea saplings the day I get my watering can back.
Chapter 28: Dance of the Moonlight Jellies
Sunday, Summer 28 Year 1:
Demetrius sent me a letter in the mail today, thankfully not a request for more crops, but an invitation to a town event.
Tonight at around 10 o’clock PM, a rare and beautiful event will take place.
The moonlight jellies will be passing by Pelican Town on their long journey south for the winter.
We’re all gathering at the beach to watch. You don’t want to miss this!
See you tonight,
I didn’t visit Grandpa at this farm very often, but I do remember the one year I saw this event Demetrius talked about: The Dance of the Moonlight Jellies. Grandpa had made a little extra effort by building a boat for the two of us, and we floated out with the beacon. Watching the floating lanterns scene in the movie Tangled years after that event reminded me of that evening. I had no intentions of missing the jellies tonight.
After picking up my new steel watering can and planting the two tea plants, I visited the Adventurer’s Guild to say hi to Marlon, then noticed on the Monster Eradication Goals noticeboard that I was six duggies away from fulfilling the goal of slaying thirty. So I subsequently scoured floors 5-25 for them, and found six by floor 21. Gil got me a yellow miner’s hat as a reward. I wasn’t too interested in it, so I took it home and put it in a chest with the straw hat. The beginnings of a hat collection, I decided.
Finally, the sun went down, and I joined the rest of the villagers on the beach. There wasn’t a soul who didn’t look excited about this event; not even George, who complained at all the other ones I’ve attended this year.
I finally found Demetrius with Robin and Maru by the tide pools. Maru happily invited me over.
“Have you seen the Moonlight Jellies before, Taylor?” she inquired.
“One summer, many years ago.” I admitted. “I think I might have been eight? It was my favorite thing the few times I visited Grandpa here.” A gust of wind blew, and I shuddered slightly. Autumn was coming. I knew I should have brought a jacket. “It’s cool.”
“It’s kind of cold, actually. I guess fall is right around the corner.”
“What a remarkable species!” Demetrius commented. “We’re very lucky that they stop here on their long journey south. Especially considering this isn’t a very lit up coastal city. It’s unknown why they are attracted to the light… very curious.”
The jellies are more formally called Lunaloos, Wizard Rasmodius explained to me later. I let Demetrius ponder as I visited Leah at the less-used dock. She had a small sketchpad out and doodled in it with a pencil. She merrily waved me over.
“Hey. Whatcha doing?”
“I’m paying my respects to another bygone summer.” She showed me a sketch of the docks across the way. “The jellies appear and disappear too quickly for me to paint them the way I would like, so I plan on drawing a quick sketch of them as a reference when I paint tomorrow.”
“That’s neat. Is this the best place to watch the jellies at?”
“I’d say so. Elliott disagrees, but I also wanted a little more isolation.” I looked up from the sketchbook and saw Elliott waving at us across the water from the other deck by Willy’s shop. Leah and I smiled and waved back.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it then.”
I left the tide pool area, and waited for Harvey to cross the bridge before going over myself. He paced along the estuary, presumably to relieve anxious energy waiting for the event to begin, or better avoid mosquitoes.
The three amigos stood together at another section of the dock. Vincent tugged at Sam’s jacket telling him of hopes to see the rare green jelly. He then took off to share the hope with Penny who stood closer to the beach.
“I wonder if they’re poisonous…” Sam thought aloud.
“Poisonous or venomous?” I asked him.
“What’s the difference?”
“If poisonous, it hurts when you eat it. If venomous, it hurts when you touch it. Most jellyfish tend to be at least a little venomous.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t push Sebastian in after all…”
I nodded in agreement. Abigail was lost in wonder on the rare and exciting event. Sebastian stared intently into the water.
“I thought I saw something moving in there…” he said gravely. “Something big, something dark.”
He smirked. “Just trying to scare you.”
“I think I’ll go look at the event from that way…” I gestured towards Lewis, who was adjusting the candle-boat Robin built.
I will, thank you very much. I’m not risking the aftermath that could come from Sam and Sebastian trying to mess around. I’ll watch it though, happily.
I overheard Pam pining for food like at the other town holidays, Haley regretting forgetting to bring her camera, and Jas whispering to Shane, wondering if there would be any babies this year. Willy stood by his shop, making sure that the lights on the docks would be on.
“Good evening, Willy.”
“Aye.” He nodded. “Most night-fish would be scared of the light… these are strange ones.”
Indeed. “Need any help getting the lights on?”
“No thanks, lass. We’re all set here.”
“Good evening, Taylor,” Mayor Lewis addressed me. “The Moonlight Jellies care close… I already saw one glowing in the distance. Once we launch the candle-boat, they’ll come up to the docks and say hello.” He showed me the candle-boat Robin made. It was secured by two ropes, one short one to keep it close to the dock, and a second longer one to reel it back to shore later. “What do you think? Should I launch the boat now?”
He used the exact question he asked Grandpa when he launched us out years ago. It was that moment I realized the one year he took me on the boat, it was the candle-boat. Lewis and I smiled at our shared memory.
“Yes, let’s do it.”
Lewis untied the shorter rope, and let the candle-boat float out. I sat near Jodi, who spotted one jelly before it disappeared. We waited a few minutes before anything happened. The town was silent in anticipation. Clint glanced over to Emily on his right a few times, but didn’t say anything. Maybe someday he’ll be brave enough to talk with her.
“There!” Jas squealed, pointing out to the water. “Here they come!”
One by one, dozens of jellies of various sizes floated up towards us. They were a gorgeous bioluminescent blue, except for a rare one which was a lime green.
The town oohed and ahhed over the sight, and I didn’t blame them. After the initial reactions, most held their silence to reverently behold the event. The whole night just felt magical. I watched with the town as the jellies arrived, then returned to the sea as I felt and increased chill in a gust of wind. The glow of summer has faded, now… and the moonlight jellies carry on toward the great unknown.
I went to bed just glowing with joy. I’m really loving Pelican Town.