After a long day of removing trees and laying paths around the farm Lily was ready for a drink. Gus not only had good beer but, on her small budget, had great prices. She had only been into the saloon a few times during the day for coffee, and it was usually empty, except for Pam sitting at the far end of the bar. When she went into the bar tonight however, it was bustling. Pam was still sitting at the same stool, but the rest of the bar was packed. Leah was sitting alone at a table in the corner, Lewis and Marnie were having what seemed like a very intense conversation, Demetrius and Robin were holding each other close and swaying sweetly. Next to the bar a dark-haired man stood alone with a beer, she recognized him from Marnie’s ranch, but didn’t know his name. In the game room, she could hear pool balls hitting each other and several people laughing. She took a seat at the bar, next to Pierre, and ordered a beer. Emily brought it over, she really liked Emily, she always served Lily when she went in for coffee and was one of the few people in town who had tried to get to know her.
As Lily drank her beer she stared longingly at Demetrius and Robin, they looked so sweet together, like they were the only two people in the world. Lily wanted that so badly. After all the bad relationships, she had living in the city, she had hoped maybe she could meet someone here in the valley. Someone fun and relaxed. Everyone in the city was always moving so quickly, and she just wanted someone she could take it slow with, cherish every moment. Her thoughts were interrupted by a voice she hadn’t heard before. A blonde-haired boy, maybe a year younger than her, called out to Gus.
“Hey Gus, can we all get a pizza to share?” he asked, as he gestured to the game room.
“Yeah, I’ll bring it right out to you.”
When he turned around to return to the game room, Lily seemed to catch his eye.
“Hi, I don’t think we’ve met before, I’m Sam.” He said to Lily.
“Yeah, I just moved into Springhill farm a few weeks ago, I’m Lily.” She answered.
“Oh right, I heard a farmer moved in, you’re not what I expected though.” Sam said while looking her up and down.
“What do you mean?” the farmer smiled.
“Well, I guess I was expecting, well, a man.”
“I’m definitely not that.” She laughed.
“I mean, you are just so…so, well I’m not sure, you just seem too pretty to be a farmer.” He finally explained.
That made her blush, he wasn’t too hard on the eyes himself, but she didn’t want to say anything that might be embarrassing, so she just said “Well, looks can be deceiving.”
“That’s for sure” he looked nervous “Well I better get back to my friends. It was nice to meet you, maybe I’ll see you around some time?”
“Yeah, I hope you do.” She called after him.
As Lily watched him walk away she couldn’t help but smile, she really did hope she saw him around sometime.
Lily had finished watering all her crops and finally chopped enough wood for the coop she’d been wanting Robin to construct. She made her way up the mountain pass that led to Robin’s. Lily grabbed a few spice berries along the way. Robin had just opened for business when she arrived. She gave her the wood and paid the 4,000 gold, and Robin told her she’d start work tomorrow.
Lily decided she better go look and see if anyone had posted on the bulletin board, the extra cash was really helping her. She hoped soon that the farm would be completely self-sustaining and she’d begin to make a profit, but it was going to take a lot more work to get it there. The board had one new posting, Sam wanted a quartz.
This was a perfect excuse to talk to Sam again. She didn’t know what it was, but ever since that night at the saloon she couldn’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it was his smile, it was so innocent, but it seemed to be saying it wanted more. She was probably just reading into it she thought, just getting lonely and would do anything to have a friend. She ran home to go get a quartz. She must have spent an hour trying to decide which was the perfect piece, by the time she got back outside the sun was setting.
She decided to take the path past Marnie’s farm into town, it was a little more difficult to walk, especially at night, but it was faster. She met Sam’s mom at Pierre’s a few days earlier and Jodi had told her where they lived. As she was passing Marnie’s the sun fell completely below the horizon and it was almost too dark to see. When she finally arrived at Sam’s she saw him standing by the river, he was just lit up by the porch light from his house. The water glistened and she was almost afraid to disturb him.
“Hey there”, what a lame thing to say.
He looked back at her and it seemed like he had been crying. He turned around again and said “Hi.”
“I was just stopping by to bring you that quartz you asked for.” She didn’t want to pry.
“Oh right, thanks, I was going to give it to my brother, he’s been spending a lot of time at the museum and he really likes all the rocks and stuff.” He reached into his pocket.
“Don’t worry about paying me, I have so many of these things from mining, you can just have it.”
He smiled “Well thanks. If you’re not busy we could sit her a while? I like how the water looks at night.”
She didn’t know what to say, she wasn’t busy at all, her plan was to go home and watch The Queen of Sauce, but she didn’t want to seem like she had nothing going on. “I can stay a while.” she said.
“Awesome.” He looked up at her with puppy dog eyes.
She was hooked. He looked so sweet and tender, all she wanted to do was give him a big hug. She couldn’t stop staring, she realized they’d been silent a while but she didn’t want to end the moment.
“How is life on the farm?” he asked, “Everything you thought it would be?”
“Well, its definitely hard work, I don’t know if I really knew what I was getting into. But, I’m happier now than I ever was, and that was sorta the point.”
That was the first time she had said it out loud, she was happier. Suddenly she couldn’t stop smiling.
“What is it?” Sam asked.
“It’s just, I really am happy, it’s an amazing feeling you know?”
“I wish I felt that way.” He needed to talk but wasn’t sure Lily would care.
“Well, do you want to talk about it? I’d be happy to, or we can just sit if you’d like that better?”
Sam smiled. He loved his friends but sometimes he didn’t feel like he could share these things with them, he was always afraid they’d be mad he brought down the mood.
“It’s just my dad, he’s off, Joba knows where, fighting the Gotoro Empire, and while I’m proud of him, I sometimes wish he would just come home.” Sam took a long pause. “Not for me, I’m old enough to understand why he’s doing it and I don’t need him that much anymore, but Vincent and my mom…”
“I get it. My parents weren’t really there for me either, and even though I could take care of myself, it just never seemed fair to my little brother.” She looked at him for a long time, before finally taking his hand.
Sam smiled, her hand felt warm on his and he was finally starting to feel better. All because of her. Sam stared at her a while as she looked intensely down at the water. Her cheek started to turn red and he knew she noticed his gaze was fixed on her.
“What?” she giggled.
“It’s just” Sam leaned in close, “You’re not like anyone I’ve met.”
“You aren’t either. I’m really glad I came by tonight.” She smiled.
They both stared at each other, though it was only a few seconds it felt like forever. As Sam moved in closer her heart began to pound. She could just feel the warmth of Sam’s breath on her lips when…
“Sam! Sam please come inside, it’s getting late.” Jodi yelled from the front door.
“Yeah sorry mom, I’m coming.”
“Well, I guess I better go. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sam stood up. “I had fun tonight.”
“Yeah me too.” She said, and Sam disappeared into his house.
She stayed there, looking into the water a while, why did his mom have to come outside. She kept replaying the feeling of his warm breath, her heart pounding, and his sweet smile. She only hoped he was thinking about it too.
He saw Lily get up and walk home from his window. He couldn’t believe what had happened, he acted like a total jerk, “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow” what a dumb thing to say. He tossed and turned all night.
“Shit” he thought, “I think I might like the farmer.”
Lily woke to the sound of rain splashing down on the wood roof. The rain was welcome because she didn’t need to water her crops, and there was no way to work on the farm in the rain. She had heard about the library a few times, even that there was a museum, and figured today would be a good day to check it out. When she got out onto the porch she was surprised to see Robin working on the coop.
“Robin!” Lily yelled over the rain, “Are you sure you want to work in this weather?”
“I’m just going to bring over materials and maybe plan out the foundations, I have a tarp to cover it up. I promised you I’d start tomorrow and that is what I’m doing.” Robin explained.
“Well thank you, just be careful.” Lily warned her.
The walk into town was difficult to say the least. She had found an old umbrella that she remembered belonged to her grandfather. It was navy blue and a bit old fashioned. Sadly, the fabric was stretched and thin and some water was getting through. It was better than nothing though, the rain had grown heavy and the dirt road into town was now mud. She trudged along, trying not to step in any big puddles, luckily, she had worn her work boots today. Once into the town it was much easier to move along the cobblestone streets. The weather must have kept everyone inside because it was even more empty than usual. She walked past the saloon and down near Mayor Lewis’s house. He kept an immaculate flower bed and it seemed like he swept the side walk in front of his house every day. Hopefully the rain wouldn’t make too much of a mess, Lewis seemed like a very particular man. The river was running fast and high from all the fallen rain. As she crossed over the bridge a Shad popped his head out to enjoy the weather. The museum had only been open for an hour but there were several people inside. Jodi’s younger son, Vincent, sat with the young girl she had seen playing jump rope in Cindersnap Forest. Watching them was a sweet looking girl, close to Lily’s age, maybe twenty-two. Lily went up to the front desk to talk to the man she assumed was the proprietor.
“Excuse me, I’m just wondering, do I need to pay to look at the museum?” Lily asked.
“You must be new around here, I’m Gunther.” He reached out his hand.
“Oh, it’s so nice to meet you, I’m Lily. I own Springhill farm.” Lily said as she shook his hand.
She could she Gunther was giving her a look, he didn’t believe she could own the farm.
“Well, I don’t own, so much as inherited. My grandfather lived there before he passed.”
“Oh! You’re Lily Witmer.” He smiled at her, “You don’t remember me at all? Not after all the times I had to take away your books so you’d go home?”
“Wow, how could I forget! I didn’t realize you still ran this place! I didn’t really remember this place, but now that I’m here it’s all coming back. I really did spend a lot of time in here, didn’t I?” Lily was being flooded with memories. Hiding behind shelves, sneaking under tables, all so she could stay in the library just a few minutes more.
“You were here almost every day of the summer. I’m sorry to say it has changed a bit.” He looked embarrassed.
“What do you mean?” she couldn’t tell if it was different or not.
“Well, several books have gone missing. People check them out and lose them. Now that everything is on the computer people are better about returning them but there are still several great books on Stardew Valley that are missing.”
“That is too bad, that’s actually why I came by, I need a refresher course in all things Stardew Valley. Well I’ll just have a look through the museum and go then.” She was a bit disappointed. The valley had a lot of weird traditions that she could never learn while living in the city. She even remembered there was special rules for showing people affection, or even proposing to them. Not that marriage was in her near future, but it is important to know these things.
“Well the museum is free, but I’m afraid you won’t find much back there. The collection has also fallen apart. So much has gone missing, or broken throughout the years. I just can’t go into the field collecting specimens any more. Your grandfather was actually the towns biggest donator of artifacts, minerals, even rare gems. But with me out of service and your grandfather gone, the collection can’t grow. There are a few pieces of quartz and amethyst in there if you still want to see.” Gunther hated that his collection had become so barren.
“I’ve actually found quite a few of those things myself in the mines.”
“In the mines? You have been in there?” Gunther’s attitude was now much happier.
“Yeah, I’m trying to make my way down. It is dangerous and maze like in there though. I need to get something to protect myself with.”
“The mines are where your grandfather found most of the things he donated to the museum. Look, how about we make a deal? If you bring me artifacts, minerals, or anything else that you find in the mines, I will tell you about each one of them in exchange for your letting me keep them here on display. I can even give you some rewards if you bring me enough quality specimens.” Gunther looked ecstatic.
“I don’t know, I’m not Indiana Jones. I really don’t know what I am doing, like I said I don’t even have a sword.” Lily wasn’t convinced.
“It is the same deal I gave your grandfather after he stopped in here with a scroll. He had found it while mining and couldn’t read it. I was able to translate it for him, it turned out it was written by dwarfs.” Gunther seemed to know how to spark her interest.
“Well, if it was good enough for my grandpa, it is good enough for me. You’ve got yourself a deal. I promise once I figure out how to deal with the monsters in the caves I start to bring you everything I find.” Lily was excited to be following in her father footprints.
“Perfect.” Gunther was beaming. “If you find any books around, bring those by too!”
“Sure thing.” She said as she walked out the door.
It was only twelve and with her plans to read fallen through she didn’t know what to do with herself. She went back across the bridge and to her surprise she saw Sam. He was standing there looking at the water like she had seen him the night before. Lily was afraid Sam would think it an odd coincidence that she ran into him again, but she couldn’t help the strong urge to call his name.
“Oh wow, hey Lily. What are you doing out in the rain?” Sam motioned her over with his hand.
“I could ask you the same thing.” She teased.
“I don’t know, my mom was complaining I was playing my guitar too loud. How can someone even play a guitar too loud? It’s the whole point.” Sam laughed.
“Ha, yeah that’s true. Your mom seems really nice though, I met her the other day at Pierre’s.”
“She doesn’t usually shop there, I wonder… Oh great.” He looked ticked off but Lily had no idea why.
“She only shops at Pierre’s when she is going to make something special. Which means that even though I asked her not to, she is throwing me a birthday party.”
“What’s so bad about that?”
“It always so forced. She invites over Sebastian and Abigail, and then all her old lady friends, and we are forced to hid in my room while they gossip. Then she parades me out for cake and makes me blow out the candles like a child.”
“That seems like pretty basic mom stuff to me.”
“Yeah that’s not that bad I guess. It’s just after everyone leaves we always video chat with my dad. For some reason seeing him just makes me so angry. I’m sorry I know this sounds dumb, I don’t know why I’m even telling you about it.” Sam looked at the ground.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.” Lily smiled at him.
Neither of them said anything for a long time and Lily felt like maybe she should just leave him alone. She turned to walk away when Sam finally spoke.
“Look, I’m sorry about last night. I don’t know what I was even doing.” He kept looking at his feet.
“It’s okay, I had a really nice time, I told you that.” She nudged his arm.
“Okay, cool.” He was silent again.
“I better get...” she was interrupted by Sam.
“Would you wanna come over to my house tomorrow night?”
“Um, I’m not sure...” Lily didn’t understand exactly what the invitation meant.
“Joba, nothing like that! I just mean Abby and Sebastian are coming over to play video games, maybe play a little music. I just thought it might be fun?” Sam was clearly very nervous. He had never actually asked out a girl before. This was a very small town.
“Oh! Totally, that sounds really fun. I’d love to hear you play.” Lily’s cheeks started to blush.
“Cool, can you come by around seven?” Sam was trying to sound aloof, but inside he was dancing.
“Seven is perfect. I’ll see you tomorrow!” Lily smiled and walked away.