The sun hung low in the sky as Claire was almost finished lugging the last of her crops in from the field. A steady stream of curses could be heard faintly under her breath as this season's batch of pumpkins were unusually heavy. She then sighed as she knew that Zach would probably pay her more for the larger crop yield, but at the current moment the last thing Claire wanted was to make a fool out of herself in front of Mary. She huffed as she held the large pumpkin in her arms, using as much concentration she had as she tried to keep herself from toppling over. With another exasperated sigh she gently laid the pumpkin in the shipping bin and walked back into her fields to grab the remaining few that still hung on the vines.
It had been quite an experience working under Mary's quiet and watchful gaze these last few weeks. Once Claire had sent the librarian home after the storm, Mary had shown up every morning promptly at six-thirty with a notebook and pen at the ready. The first time she heard a knocking on the door Claire had assumed it was the annoying traveling salesman that lived down by the beach, and she neglected to answer it out of contempt for the mean little man. After a few more knocks Claire was almost surprised to see Mary so eager to get to work, since hardly anyone from town woke up as early as she did. It was also interesting to have someone else on her farm, the company was certainly enjoyable and soon enough Claire had noticed that Mary's slight stammer didn't bother her speech anymore. It was nice to know that the librarian was comfortable with her. But Claire never thought she would find a new friend in the quietest resident of Mineral Town; but friendships are weird that way. Always popping up in the strangest of places.
As these thoughts of the other girl entered her mind Claire looked up and turned to search for Mary, her gaze landing by the horse stables where the librarian was currently running away from the young foal that she had received in the beginning of the year. The rancher laughed and quickly traversed the field, kneeling down to embrace the young animal in her arms as Mary jumped a few feet behind her. The librarian shuffled around nervously for a few moments before she finally had the nerve to peek over Claire's shoulders and eye the animal suspiciously.
"And here I thought you were supposed to observing the technical mechanics behind the art of raising summer crops or something. Tsk tsk, what am I going to tell your father young lady?" Claire said with another laugh as she ran her hands through the baby horse's tangled mane, turning slightly to look up at the librarian behind her. Mary let out an indignant huff as Claire teased her, causing the rancher to laugh a bit harder. Mary seemed to always be doing that lately, always protesting against Claire's jokes. But the librarian just made it so easy sometimes and Claire couldn't help but kid the girl.
"Well for your information Claire, it was your insane horse that decided that my notebook was going to be it's afternoon snack! It was all I could do to protect myself from the savage beast," she replied testily as she held her slightly damaged notebook close to her chest, returning her attention to the horse as she stared down the animal.
"You mean sweet ol' Anabelle here? My precious baby horse, is the "savage beast" you speak of?" Claire questioned mockingly as she held Anabelle's head in her hands, stroking the horse's nose gently. Anabelle then let out a small whiny and Mary nearly leaped ten feet in the air, immediately jumping back as she tried to put as much distance between her and the very "vicious" baby horse. By this time Claire was nearly crying she was laughing so hard at Mary's antics, her sides hurt and she seriously could not keep a straight face to save her life. It took all the restraint she had not to just let Anabelle go accidentally and just watch the scene unravel into something straight out of some slapstick comedy sketch. But no, Claire didn't want to spook the poor librarian half to death, so she held on to the horse as much as her curiosity protested.
"Gosh darn it Claire! This is not a laughing matter!" Mary exclaimed as she still was slowly inching away from the rancher and her horse, now wielding her notebook in a sword-like fashion as she waved it side to side threateningly.
"Are you positive that we're seeing the same thing here?" Claire replied as she shook her head and slowly stood up, leading Anabelle back to the stables. She clicked the door softly behind the animal once she was inside and returned to the librarian who was now busy writing a few quick things down in her notebook, feigning indifference as she pretended that the recent altercation didn't just happen. Claire grinned and flicked the corner of the white notebook page, causing Mary to stare up at her and wrinkle her eyebrows.
"Must you always be a pest? I am actually trying to write something down you know," She replied as she scratched through a word, clearly hinting at the fact that Claire had somehow messed up a word and she now had to re-write it over again.
"Oh, you just love my good wholesome humor. Don't deny it bookworm," Claire replied as she nudged the girl in the side, trying to grab her attention again. "Besides, I have something to show you." she added as she grabbed Mary's hand and tugged her towards the fields, not caring if she had messed up another word in her precious notebook.
Mary let out a yelp of protest as the action caught her off guard but she eventually complied as she followed the rancher along. The librarian's gaze wandered aimlessly for a bit before before it landed on Claire, wondering where the rancher was leading her. Mary almost ran into her as she stopped at an old wooded bridge that stretched its way across the river that marked the end of Claire's farm and start of the large looming forest behind it. Claire then released Mary's hand and plopped herself down on the bridge, swinging her legs forward so that they dangled off the side and almost skimmed the gentle water beneath them. The blonde smiled and patted the spot next to her, indicating that she wanted Mary to sit down.
The librarian then checked her watch as her parents were probably wondering where she was by now; they usually expected her to return home right after the work day was over. She glanced back towards the entrance of the farm and wondered what she should do. Mary didn't her want parents to worry but as she looked back towards the rancher she couldn't help but laugh at the other girl's goofy expression. Claire had scootched over and began to poke at Mary's shoes, showing that she wanting her to hurry up and sit down already.
"Fine you dope, I'll stay. Calm down will you?" Mary said as she finally sat down and gently folded her legs to the side, leaning back some as got herself situated on the bridge comfortably. She then turned her attention back to Claire who was now staring off at some fixed point in the distance. Mary was about to speak and question what she was supposed to be waiting for, but she was immediately met with a quick hushed noise from Claire. The rancher turned around shook her head, waving her hands a bit to keep the librarian quiet. Mary let out a huff but otherwise obeyed the request for silence.
Eventually the only sounds that could be heard was their own breathing, the whisper of water lazily flowing under the bridge, and the rustle of leaves as a cool summer breeze slowly passed by and caused a few trees to a sway in response. Soon enough faint murmur of crickets started up as well, stunning Mary as she sat in awe of the whole scene that was unraveling around her. It was just so incredibly peaceful and she had never before experienced such a serene sense of calm. Her father was always the one boring her with lectures about the environment, and more often than not, she usually ignored him. Why worry about the crazy outdoors when you could be perfectly content inside with a book?
But as Mary contemplated the transcendental importance of nature, she was brought out of her reverie by a sharp jab to her waist. She was about to snap angrily at Claire but she was again kept in silence by what the rancher was staring at. The sun had begun its initial descent towards the horizon and the entire sky was streaked in every shade of pink, orange, and red imaginable. The fiery ball of light was dipping the everything in a warm golden glow, causing Mary to grin as she broke her eyes away from the sunset and laugh lightly as Claire's own golden locks. They had picked up an almost blinding ginger tone as her hair reflected the soft light.
Now, Mary had been never been known to be an impulsive person, but at that very moment she wanted nothing more then to just run her fingers through Claire's golden waves of hair. She tentatively started to raise her hand but stopped herself as her mind shifted into overdrive and she quickly began to question herself.
"Hold on, what am I doing? What if Claire thinks I'm weird, like who just randomly strokes their friend's hair? I don't want to muck up the friendship we have with one impromptu act of impulsiveness. Wait, impulsiveness. That's what it is right? I mean why else would I want-" But before her mind caught up with her actions, Mary found herself loosing her thoughts to the softness that wrapped around her fingers. She almost stopped herself as she realized what she was doing but in another surprise, Claire didn't say anything. The rancher just leaned into Mary's touch and let her body fall back into her lap, causing the librarian to almost to fall backwards herself. Claire grinned up at her but a flash of wonder crossed her face as Mary caught herself doing something even more impulsive. She didn't even have time to stop herself from planting a small kiss upon the rancher's forehead.