She was a city girl, until an argument with her boyfriend led to an argument with her parents, which led to a breakup, and it all ended with her running away to her brother's farm. ClairxKai
The Domino Effect
When the summer ended and fall began, he returned to the city as he always did. He didn't get along with his family, so he left every summer. It seemed that the Shore Shack, his little restaurant in a distant town which I did not know the name of, was not doing well enough to live on all year long. Secretly, I was relived, because that would mean Kai would always return at summer's end.
In the fall we would meet to catch up. I would tell him about what happened in the city, about the movies I watched during the summer, what videogames I played, an update from civilization. Kai would always say that "nothing ever happens in that small town" and talk about how "time moves slowly in that town". The town remained eternally nameless, but I didn't care.
The seasons went by until spring was about to end. The two of us were at my family's apartment hanging out in my room, the door left open to avoid yelling from my parents.
Parents often took the parents' side without listening to any other point of view, and thus they didn't exactly like Kai, since he didn't get along with his parents. If anything, it made me like him more.
My parents liked to pretend I had some sort of stupid attachment to them. I live with them out of necessity only, because I don't have the money to make it on my own just yet. Just wait 'till I find a decent job, I'll jet as soon as I save enough.
I suppose their belief comes from an incident that happened two years ago when my brother bought a farm and moved to the country while I stayed in the city. I could have gone with him and the reason I stayed here was because of the city itself, definitely not because of my parents.
Kai told me he was leaving again. It came as no surprise, he would leave the next day and I knew it. He was visiting me to say goodbye until the summer ended. "Do you have to leave every summer?"
"You know I can't stand to live with my family all year long," yes, I did know. I was in the same situation and it would get worse when he was gone. I would have no one to rant to who understood exactly where I was coming from and everything would just stay completely bottled up 'till summer's end.
"I know how that feels," and as the words escape my lips, I feel a precense; the unwelcome precense of my overly dramatic mother. She yells, screams and rants and practically chases Kai away, convinced that he made me hate her, when in fact it is because of him that I haven't run away to my brother's farm yet.
Ignoring my parents' complaints, I forcefully push my mother and father out of the way and chase after Kai. I dash towards him and get in the elevator, the doors closing before my parents can reach us. We keep the elevator going up and down non-stop to have some time to talk in the enclosed space. "They really hate me."
"Who cares," I huff. "I'm the only one who needs to like you, right?"
"Right," if not for Kai, I wouldn't put up with all of this.
"Hey Kai, where do you go all the time anyway? What's your business like? Maybe I can help out." It was an innocent offer really.
"Ah well..." He looks away, staring into the elevator doors.
"Kai," I call softly, wondering why he's stalling.
"It's boring, you wouldn't like it," Kai mutters.
For some reason that really bothered me, "it can't be that bad if you go back every summer."
Kai takes a deep breath, "remember how we agreed that neither of us like secrets and that we'll be honest with each other?" I nod and feel as if he's about to drop a bomb on me. "Well, if you're thinking about running away to tag along with me, I don't think that's such a good idea."
I simply stare at him. "Why?"
"It will be troublesome when you return. They'll think I'm an evil kidnapper or something," Kai reasoned.
"Yeah you're right," I sounded more upset than I intended.
"Don't get mad, you're making it sound like I'm abandoning you," now Kai was getting upset too, because I was upset.
"It's not like you're helping me escape," the thought of Kai having another girl graced my mind. That's what people said and my parents repeated it like circus parrots.
"It's not like I have to," Kai sounds annoyed, well I'm annoyed too.
"It's not like you care," I growl in return.
"You're making it sound more serious than it is," the elevator button finally stops at the first floor and opens.
My father runs towards us and I slam my finger on the button again. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's just that," Kai tries to find a way to word it but I'm growing impatient.
"Give it to me straight," I demand.
"Well, we're not that serious..." I feel like punching him and it takes every ounce of will power in me not to.
"Fine," I punch the elevator button for my floor and step out, my mother wastes no time in grabbing my arm and trying to drag me to the apartment. I shake her off violently. "Don't touch me!"
She intensifies her melodrama and directs it full force at Kai. "I'm leaving," he looks positively fed up.
I give my words no thought and out of spite I yell, "don't bother coming back!" Then I push my mother out of the way and lock myself in my room.
xoxox xox xoxox
Much to my disdain, I realize that I do not possess a proper traveling storage device. Thus the next day after a horrible night of getting lectured, I go off to buy it. Getting out of the apartment was a nightmare, getting out for good will be worse. They saw me coming back with a suspiciously large backpack, which happened to be empty. I'm sure they wanted to throw it away and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I'm not their property so they can't keep me here. But I can play their game and I can fake their drama.
They went to sleep thinking I had changed, that I had stupidly admitted I was in the wrong, even if I wasn't, and would go see a family therapist with them the next day. Of course, I won't be around by the time they wake up. I pretended to sleep early and locked myself in my room to pack. After I had the essentials and a little money, I left before the sun raised and called a taxi.
The taxi ride ended at a bus stop further along the way. I wanted to take the cheaper bus ride since I didn't have a lot saved up, but I didn't want to wait until the first bus arrived to start putting distance between me and that place so I started on the taxi then waited at the bus stop at a decent hour in the morning.
I had locked the door of my room and closed it. They'll think I locked myself in, that should buy me some extra time just in case. Then when they finally break in, they'll only find a note. "I'm not coming back so don't bother looking for me." I signed my name at the bottom then added a little note at the end, "PS: Just so you know, I'm not with Kai." I'm mad at him, but I don't hate him enough to drag him into this mess.
I took the first bus at seven in the morning and at eight I had gone pretty far. As I waited for the next bus, my hair tugged into an old baseball cap that used to belong to my brother and eyes shielded with sunglasses, I called the number my brother had left. It wasn't really his phone number; it was the number of a local hotel, or inn as they called them in those tiny country towns. He said it was only for emergencies and this was an emergency. Other than that, we communicated through written mail.
"Good morning, this is Doug's Inn, how may I help you?" A man answered, at least I knew the number was correct and I could only hope that it was true that in those little towns everyone knew everyone and this man knew my brother.
"Hello, my brother left me this number. His name is Jack, do you know him?" It could make things extremely difficult if I can't locate my brother.
"Ah, yes, Jack!" I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding. "He owns Moon farm."
"I'm kind of having an emergency. Could I speak to my brother please?" I hope he can help me, because no matter what, I'm not going back to my parents.
"Hold on, I'll send for him right away!" I didn't mean to alarm him that much. I guess that's just the way things work in a small town where everyone knows everyone. I listed as he called for someone. "Ann! Go get Jack quick, his sister has a problem!"
"Oh no! I'll be right back!" A girl's voice replied and running footsteps were heard.
"Miss, where are you?" Doug was filled with concern I did not expect to hear from a stranger. Even if he knows my brother, I've never met him. I wonder if he's good friends with my brother or if worrying about the few neighbors they have is just a part of these people's life style.
"I'm still a bit far, I'm heading towards my brother's place but I'm a little lost," I feel kind of stupid revealing the fact that this is not a mortal emergency. "I'm having a family crisis," I add just for the sake of not making poor Doug feel like an idiot yelling for Ann, who ever that is, to go get Jack. I can also hear some murmurs in the background, I'm pretty sure all the customers found out about this too and soon the whole town will know.
"That's terrible, don't worry, I'm sure your brother will get here soon- there he comes!" I hear the sound of doors being thrown open and foot steps rushing in.
My brother takes the phone and calls my name. "Calm down Jack, I'm not dying!"
"You said it was an emergency!" Jack is trying to catch his breath.
"It is, your little sister is homeless, can I come visit you for a while?" I don't want to impose, but he is my dear brother, he won't turn me down.
"What happened?" He presses for details.
"I've had enough. Mother and father are fine if that's what you're asking." I no longer call them mom and dad. "I can't stand them anymore, brother please; I would rather live in the street than go back there."
"Where are you?" Jack asks.
"I'm at a bus stop somewhere, I don't know where. I don't know which way to go. What should I do?" I don't mean to sound like a lost child, I'm a lost young woman, but that's different from being a lost little girl. "I mean, which way should I go?"
"I need to know where you are first, just stay calm." Even though he's saying that, Jack is more worked up than I am.
"Well there's a cafe near by, hold on I'll ask where I am," after obtaining the needed information my brother instructed me to keep heading west until I came to a ferry station. I should take a boat from there that would take me to Mineral Beach.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was night fall when I arrived at the ferry station so I thought that I would have to wait until the next day to leave. I was surprised to find that Jack was there, I was so happy to see him.
"Good to see she made it safe and sound," I assume the tall muscular man is a friend of my brother. He seems like one of those guys who looks tough but is a real teddy bear inside.
"This is my friend Zack. He heard about what happened. We knew there was no way you could make it to the ferry station before closing time, Zack gave me a ride on his boat so we could go home tonight," Jack explained, then introduced me to his friend.
"Thank you very much," I sincerely told Zack.
"No problem," Zack certainly likes to smile really big. It's kind of a contagious smile. I feel that he's the big brother type and if I stick around Mineral Town, he'll end up being like a second brother to me.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was late when we arrived at Mineral Beach, but the skies were clear and the stars were shining so it wasn't pitch black. Zack lived right next to the beach but Jack and I had a short walk to get to his house. I didn't really pay attention to the small white shop next to Zack's house at the time, as we went up the stairs and across the town square off to Jack's farm.
We passed some houses and other relatively small farms along the way, but it was late and I had been traveling for nearly twenty hours so I was too tired to pay attention to the surroundings at the time and too tired to notice how big Jack's farm was when we arrived.
"Tell me about what happened in detail tomorrow. I already told our parents you're with me," I froze, suddenly wide awake as I heard Jack.
"What?" Not good! "That means that they could be on my trail right now! What if they caught me?"
My brother has the audacity to laugh. "You make it sound like you're a fugitive."
I pout, "to them, I am."
"Relax; they didn't want to let me go either. They didn't want me to bury myself in debt buying this huge farm, but I did it, I finished paying for it and I'm living comfortably. You're a big girl now, I know what you went through sis, I'll help you get on your feet and start a new life. Besides, I made sure to give you a head start, I just wanted them to call off the police." Though technically a missing person isn't missing until twenty four hours have passed, my parents are so dramatic they probably would get the police looking for me.
"Okay, I'll trust you and I'm definitely not going back with them," I'm starting a new life.
xoxox xox xoxox
When the next morning came, by the time I got up my brother was already speaking to our parents. It seems he arranged it all for me and though they tried to talk me into returning to the city, I remained firm, strong and defying. In the end, it was a bitter goodbye as they were certain I would regret it, but I felt victorious. They even considered staying at the farm, though Jack had not spoken of an invitation, that changed when I declared, "if you stay, I'll leave." I'm not a little girl anymore; they cannot tell me where to live.
Once they were gone, my brother suggested waiting until the next day to take a walk around town, when the drama died down a little. In the mean time, he showed me around the farm. He had eight sheep, eight cows, eight chickens, one horse and one dog. I'm not an animal expert, but thankfully all the animals were very tame so it was like a petting zoo.
"I hope you don't mind helping out around the farm," I knew I would have to help out, so it came as no surprise.
"Sure, I'll help, but Jack, have you been taking care of the farm on your own? This place looks too big for just one person to handle. You not only have a lot of animals, but you also have a lot of land with plants."
"I have seven little helpers, but they're a little shy towards people they don't know." I thought it funny how my brother worded it as if he was being assisted by seven little magical dwarfs or something.
I received quite a surprise when I saw a blur of cyan speed by. Because of the color I knew right away it wasn't an animal, but it was too small to be a person. Even if it was a child, a toddler that small should still be leaning to walk, unable to run that fast.
"Come on out Aqua, this is my sister, it's okay." My brother spoke to a spot behind a small stone and from there a little man came out.
I stared at the little man; he was wearing cyan clothes, pointy hat included to match his pointy ears. His body was in proportion but very small. Somehow, I knew he wasn't a dwarf, that being was something else.
"This is Aqua, he's a sprite. There are seven sprites who help me around the farm, they like flour. Aqua, this is my sister," I felt completely silly as my brother introduced me to that being as naturally as he introduced me to Zack, but Zack was human.
"Hello," I couldn't stop staring at the little guy and I think I was accidentally making him nervous.
"Hello... budum," the sprite spoke.
"Budum?" I repeated dumbly.
"Budum," the sprite repeated also.
"Budum?" What was the meaning of that strange word?
"Budum!" Aqua started laughing, than pulled out a tiny flute from under his pointy hat and began to play it.
"Oh good, he likes you," Jack was still looking perfectly calm, as if there wasn't some strange being right out of a fairy tale standing in front of us.
Another six little sprites came out of various locations around the farm and joined the first playing their little melody. My brother introduced me to each of them, though I'm not sure I'll be able to remember all their names, I'm not very good with names.
The one wearing cyan I already knew was Aqua, the one in a darker blue was Staid, Nappy was wearing orange, the one in purple was Bold, the one in red was Chef, Hoggy was the one in yellow and Timid was dressed in green.
I could only stare dumbly as they finished their song and exclaimed in unison, "budum!"
"Um... budum, hello..." at least they looked happy. They giggled and laughed, then went back to work and I looked at my brother, mouth open, unable to produce any more sounds.
"You'll get used to having them around. They're really helpful," just like that, as if this wasn't strange at all, as if he was simply talking about getting new neighbors or something, new human neighbors. "Anyway, about the farm, I think it's best if you stay away from the bee hive," Jack pointed to a tree behind the chicken coop. "Try brushing the sheep and cows, be gentle with them," and he handed me a brush.
"Like this?" I tried brushing a passing cow who mooed happily.
"Yes, just like that, that's all you need to do; I'll take care of the milk and wool. They like being called my their names, so I'll take care of talking to them too." For a moment I stared at Jack as if he grew a second head.
"They talk?" This was turning out to be a very strange place.
"No, of course not, they just like listening to people talk to them, but you'd have to remember all their names for that," they all looked alike to me, so I guess that task would remain with my brother. He knows I'm bad with names.
"Oh, okay then, I'll just brush them," it was simple enough at least.
"Right, after you're done, starting tomorrow, you should take the dog to the beach. Make sure you take the dog disk in the cabinet. Play with him for a while," I nodded accepting the task, though I didn't think it was useful and the question was clear in my eyes so my brother replied before I even asked. "It's to train him for the dog disk tournament. There are a lot of festivals and competitions in this town."
"Oh, okay, got it!" It was a small town in the middle of no where, these people had to entertain themselves somehow.
xoxox xox xoxox
In the following days, I got to know the town's people, including the resident con-artist Won. I met him at six in the morning, I time in which I was awake from lack of air conditioner, because I can't sleep without it, especially in a hot summer morning with farm animals being noisy outside. He was selling various products, mostly apple themed, and he saved my life.
"This here is an..."
"Yes! I'll buy it!" I snatched the wireless antenna from his hand and ran inside to plug it to my laptop. "Beloved internet!"
"Miss you haven't paid for that!" Won called after me.
"How much?" I didn't think it would cost much more than it would in an electronics store.
Was I ever wrong, "ten thousand gold."
"I would not joke about business."
I didn't care, I wasn't going to return my miracle antenna. "That's not fair!" I was firmly planted at the door; I wasn't going to let him retrieve it.
"Pay for it or return it."
I growled in irritation, "how about a knuckle sandwich Mr. Con-artist?"
"There's no need to resort to violence," he backed away.
"Is there a problem?" Jack's timing was flawless and after much begging from me, he paid Won and I promised to make it up to him by helping more around the farm.
That was the event that brought me to the situation of picking some freshly grown corn and delivering it to supply the shop on the beach as an extra farm chore. Jack didn't mention that it happened to be called the Shore Shack.
xoxox xox xoxox
I never thought that the place Kai disappeared to every summer was the same town where my brother lived. He never told me the town's name, so I was taken by surprise when I waltzed in with a basket full of corn, only to stop dead in my tracks.
"What are you doing here?" We asked in perfect unison.
"I work here, this is my shop," Kai informed me.
I could feel myself twitching, frustration and hurt rising. I did not want to look at Kai's face again. An argument with him threw me over the edge and the strained relationship I had with my parents finally snapped. True that I'm certain it would have happened anyway and it would be unfair to blame Kai, but he was the first domino to fall, pushing the rest along.
I placed the delivery on the counter and stated nothing more than the price. "Why are you here?" Kai insisted.
"I live here, at the farm," my tone sent the message that I had as much right to be there as he did, though he wasn't trying to make it sound otherwise.
"You got a job at the farm?" I realized he must be feeling stalked.
I will not allow him to flatter himself in such a way, "my brother has been living here for years."
"Jack," he guesses and I confirm with a nod. "Jack is your brother, I never knew."
"I didn't expect to find you here," I left the phrase hanging in the air and turned to leave as soon as he handed me the payment for the ingredients I brought. I think he said something after that, but I didn't catch it at all.
xoxox xox xoxox
I rushed back to the farm and finished up the rest of my chores. I was always exhausted afterwards; I'm definitely not used to this, even if the sprites do most of the work anyway, leaving me with about half a day to spare. I, obviously, decided to relax.
I wanted to avoid going to beach, but found myself heading towards that spot again when Popuri, my brother's girlfriend, insisted that we went to get some ice-cream together and got to know each other, since I was her future sister in law.
I tried to reason with her but it didn't work. "I really don't want to go there, the truth is Kai is my ex..."
I didn't expect Popuri to giggle and reply "mine too" as easily as one would express liking the same flavor of ice-cream as someone else. "We have something in common," she was amused, but I was not. I still went to the Shore Shack, I wasn't going to chicken out and I glared daggers at Kai the entire time.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days later that I heard from Mary that Kai was annoyed at my behavior. "He's friends with Gray and sometimes asks him to be a food critic, since Gray used to live in the city and knows what city food tastes like," Mary commented as a way to explain the origins of her information. Kai was Gray's friend and Gray was Mary's boyfriend. Kai told Gray about being annoyed, Gray told Mary and she told me. Rumors travel fast in this town.
I also noted how much it bothered me that Kai had never asked me to try his food. "I didn't want to be around him, but Popuri insisted that we got shaved ice." I paused at Mary's confused expression; I can picture her imagining a caricature of a block of ice shaving itself as a man would shave his beard. "Ice-cream," it feels like a crime to call it that and I'm mad at Kai for fueling the ignorance of not knowing the difference between the delicious treat that is ice-cream and the simplicity of little pieces of ice with not enough syrup.
"I'm sorry," I'm not sure why Mary is apologizing.
"He hurt you, that's why it's painful to look at him..."
I feel my anger boil. "Are you kidding me? I was worried he thought I was stalking him. When I came to live with my brother I didn't even know this was the town Kai visited every summer. I don't want him to flatter himself thinking I came for him." Showing anger and glaring at him is the best way to prove that, isn't it? Or am I doing the opposite? "Either way, it doesn't matter, he'll be gone at summer's end and I'll stick around." Then I'll forget about him and it won't bother me to look at him when and if he comes back next summer.
xoxox xox xoxox
This is a small town where what one does affects what everyone else dose, and these people are not too fond of those who break the pattern. As I had heard from Popuri's brother Rick, Kai was one of those who broke the pattern of their quiet lives and festivals with his coming and going. Though it looked like the rest of the villagers didn't really mind since there was a sort of predictability in his movements, he came and went with the summer.
It wasn't until later one night when I found out that the town's unmoving time frame was finally going to move forward and I heard it from half drunken Karen. "I'm getting married," I think I was the last to find out and suddenly the comments I had heard about Karen and Rick made sense. I thought those things were said concerning them as a dating couple, maybe one with an approaching anniversary, but people were in fact talking about the upcoming wedding of the childhood friends. The domino effect was about to repeat itself in another way.
One after another, the couples got married. Karen and Rick, Mary and Gray, Elli and Doctor, Ann and Cliff, even my brother Jack and Popuri got married. One couple got married and the others soon followed, like a row of dominos falling.
But I exist outside of that row and though it felt like it was the domino effect that brought me here, I realize that it was long overdue action. I should have come long ago; I'm here because I want to be, not because I was pushed to this point by life, as these people are.
xoxox xox xoxox
I heard stories about the Harvest Goddess and went to try my luck throwing in some flowers. This small town held a certain mystic aura to it. I didn't think there was such a being as a Harvest Goddess, at least not outside of mythology, but the sprites were real, so I wouldn't assume anything until I investigated the matter further.
After throwing some flowers in the pond near the hot springs, a woman with green hair adorned with flowers and a lovely dress appeared to tell me that she liked the offering. She knew my name and didn't take too long to say her goodbyes, but I called out to her. "Wait! Harvest Goddess, I want to ask you something."
"This is unusual, but go ahead, what do you wish to ask?" I guess people just offered flowers more often than they looked for advice.
The realization hit me, I wasn't sure what my question was, so I just asked the first thing that came into my mind. "Should I stay in this town?"
"That is for you to decide, I can't give you the answer," I should have expected that. "It sounds like you're a bit confused, time will guide you if you can't find your way," and then she disappeared.
I came to talk to the Harvest Goddess often, always offering flowers until one day she expressed her appreciation for all the offerings and asked, "is there someone you like?"
I thought about the question, Summer had ended, Kai was gone, and there was no one who caught my attention that way in Mineral Town, there weren't many bachelors to choose from. "Not right now."
"Very well, let me know if you change your mind," then the Harvest Goddess disappeared as she usually did.
xoxox xox xoxox
My brother had let me keep his second house in Mineral Town; I still worked at the farm and got a little better at it as time went by. I occasionally bought things imported from the city from Won. Eventually, I convinced him to give them to me at fair prices all thanks to a hammer I borrowed without asking from Jack's toolbox. I put it back before he noticed.
Life continued as if it was at a stand still once again. Time moves so slowly that some days it feels as if it doesn't move at all. It's a new era, but it's not any more eventful than the last. Everything is predictable; if the first domino falls so will the others. When the first couple got married the others did as well. Those events signaled the coming of a new era, and that era brought forth a new routine identical to the last.
Each day has faded into the previous and I wonder how many days have passed, how many seasons. Though it feels like I've been here for an eternity, because I cannot distinguish one day from another, it's hard to say if I've been here for a year or a week, far more or far less. Then Kai arrives signaling the start of summer and I realize that it has been a year.
xoxox xox xoxox
I make deliveries from the farm to Kai now and then. We talk normally, as if he was never my ex in the first place. I go to his shop for shaved ice I'm bored and insist on using its proper name. "When next summer comes, all the young couples will have babies," because when the first domino falls so do the others. My brother and his wife are those first dominoes this time.
"I guess they always do everything at the same time, weddings and children too. How have you been doing working at the farm?"
"Fine, it's all the same, there's not much to do in this town. It feels like living the same day over and over, then it's summer and the Shore Shack opens, so I realize that a year went by."
"Have you thought about traveling?"
"It would be fun."
"Huh?" I'm not sure if it's good or bad.
"You used to be childish and complained about your family all the time," Kai reminds me.
"So did you," I remind him.
"Yes, I know, but I've been traveling more. I left in the spring and traveled around. Then in the summer I came here. I don't know where I'll go in the fall."
"So you're not going back to that city? You got your freedom, that's good," I'm honest when I say this, I really am happy for him.
"Yeah, I might be coming here between trips."
I nod and continue to listen of the tales of towns and cities.
xoxox xox xoxox
Kai broke the pattern; he came and went not only during the summer but all year long. He became unpredictable, a stress for the town and a breath of fresh air for me. Finally, Kai settled into an extended vacation from his travels and remained in Mineral Town for several season. Then he went on another trip and invited me to come along as a friend; I did.
Upon my return, I can't say the residents of Mineral Town were thrilled of my coming and going without a predictable date of departure or return, it broke the pattern.
At some point in a distant city Kai and I kissed and decided to date again. We came and went freely, realizing that it was our own restraints that made the relationship fall apart and not each other. We both had things to deal with; we were both tired of dealing with our families and thus didn't want to think about the possibility to deal with the other's family. But when that possibility was erased, things fell into place one after the other, like dominoes.
Kai and I still exist outside of the cycle, we move at our own pace without following a guide or being pushed along by others, who are in turn being pushed along by an unknown force, empowered by everyone and no one. The domino effect has no effect on us. Some pieces sometimes fall out of order and others don't fall at all. We are free.
Disclaimer, I don't own Harvest Moon.