The bus trundled on, still hours from its destination. Henry had been staring out the old, smudged window for what felt like an eternity. He knew that it had only been a handful of hours but buses had a way of stretching time. The stretched time was filled with second guesses and anxieties. What have you done? You have given everything up and for what? I hope you know what you are doing. Of course, he had no idea what he was doing.
It was, perhaps, another forty minutes be for the bus passed the “Welcome to Stardew Valley” sign. It was an old faded sign lit by old, flickering incandescent lights. It looked as if it were one good breeze from blowing over. ‘At least the lights work.’ Henry thought. ‘Otherwise, we would have missed it entirely in the cover of night.’
He had spent the duration of the bus ride trying not to think about the absurdity of the whole situation. Giving up city life, leaving his family, his job, his schooling, his everything behind. And for what? A farm.
'A farm that you have absolutely no idea how to run.' The helpful little voice in his head chimed. It was right. He had left everything that he knew behind.
Well, not everything. He had his memories. He remembered the day he quit. He remembered walking down those sterile halls, under their clinical fluorescent lighting. He remembered that familiar, deep-seated self-loathing. It had accompanied nearly every action he had taken for Joja.
Suddenly, he was walking down those corridors, walking into that conference room that felt more like a trap. Then, the CEO was telling him that he had to cut thirty percent of his staff. He had argued. Of course, he had argued, but he still lost the fight.
The reverie changed and he was rushing back to his office. He spoke to his secretary but he could not make out the words. She had stood and left the room, he recalled. He remembered going through old files. Searching frantically. He had a feeling that the upper management suspected he might do something like this. For a moment, he feared that they had preempted him. He feared that they had stolen what he sought. Then he found them. His secretary returned. They arranged to make copies. He was quietly slipping the original files back into their spots and he left. He hid the files in his apartment. He was back in his office. Hellen, his secretary was with him. She was speaking, though he hardly heard her.
“Sir, I just got a call from the CEO’s secretary Upper Management is on its way down here. They plan to terminate you.”
“Thank you, Hellen.” Henry sighed.
Then he was rushing, with only the faintest hint of a speech on his lips, something about ‘Reaping what you have sown!’
He was making a hasty departure from the city. A few packed bags and a ticket. His sister was driving him to the bus station.
“You’re sure about this?” Amelia asked. “You understand what you are doing?”
“Yes, Ames.” He replied. “I do.”
“Well, just remember that Grandpa gave that farm to both of us. Take care of it.” She smiled at him. “I’ll visit as soon as I can.”
Henry was startled back to wakefulness by a particularly sharp bounce of the bus. He decided to pass the time with writing a letter to his mother. After three attempts, he finally found words that did not seem artificial or somehow wrong.
Wow. That sounds so formal... Anyway, I hope this letter finds you well. I know we just spoke but I feel like writing to you.
The bus, yes, bus. Apparently, the trains are unable to make it all the way to Pelican town. There was a late winter storm that rendered the pass into the valley impassible to trains. So, I'm on a bus which has just entered Stardew Valley. That means we still have a two or three-hour drive to get to Pelican Town. It's the last stop. The ride itself hasn't been terrible but I find myself growing more anxious the closer we get. I guess that's what I get for throwing my life away...
I'll write again as soon as I'm settled. I hope you are coping alright.
Lots of Love,
He looked up from his work. The sky was brightening. "Carpe Diem."
He was not sure how long it had taken the bus to arrive but eventually it trundled to a stop. He glanced out the window and was struck the volume of green he saw. It was strange to see so many trees in one place. Henry smiled at the sight and collected his bags. Slowly, Henry stumbled off the bus. He took stock of his verdant surroundings.
"Hiya, I'm Robin, Town Carpenter. Nice to meet 'cha." A woman in her forties with striking red hair greeted Henry as he disembarked from the bus. He shuffled his bags to free up his right hand, which he extended.
"Oh, Hello. I'm—"
"Henry Grey. Yup. Heir of the Gilderwood Estate." She took his hand and shook it heartily.
"I suppose that's me." Henry smiled. "It's a pleasure."
"It really is." She said. "It really really is." She stood smiling at him for a good minute before Henry intervened.
"So, can you direct me to the 'estate?'" He rolled the last word over in his mouth. He was almost hopeful that he might not be walking into a complete disaster.
"Oh, I can do ya on better. I'll escort you."
The walk to the farm was longer than he had expected. He blamed it on the luggage he was carrying. The track was unpaved and completely uneven. The trees along this stretch had grown close together and their roots where upheaving the path. He was readjusting the bags when Robin stopped and he narrowly avoided colliding with her.
"Here we are! Gilderwood Farm."
He glanced up. Trees, boulders, grass (or overgrown weeds), but no farm. He turned to see the old farm house. His heart sank. This was definitely the farm.
"It's a bit rough. I know." Robin said. "This farm has been untouched for years. Close to twenty, I think."
"I can see that." Henry sighed trying not to collapse from the weight of his decisions.
"Oh, yes! The Mayor is inside. I think he'd like to talk to ya." Robin led him into the house.
Inside the house was small. A single room with a bed, a table, and a fireplace. It was disconcerting to Henry that he could count the furnishings of this house on one hand. The Mayor stood by the fireplace. He was an older man but he seemed virile.
"Hello, Henry. It's been too long."
"Hi, Mayor Lewis." Henry smiled, extending his hand. "You seem as busy as ever."
"Well, it's not every day we get a new face around town." Lewis smiled. "Certainly, not every day do we get a new farmer."
"I'm not sure how a medical degree will help me farm but we will see if I can't live up to expectations."
"Henry," Lewis said seriously. "You are breathing new life into this town. I know you will get this farm up and running. You are your grandfather's blood, after all."
"Thank you, Mayor."
"Anytime." Lewis was smiling again. "Say, stop by town and introduce yourself. Everyone is very excited to meet you." He was about to leave. "Oh, before I forget. That crate outside? It's for shipping. Place whatever you want to sell in it and it'll get picked up early in the morning. Usually by me."
"Thank you." Henry replied. "I'll stop by tomorrow."
"You're very welcome." Lewis winked "Welcome to Stardew Valley." With that he was gone.
Left alone in the small quiet home Henry had a chance to examine his new life. The house was small, just slightly more claustrophobic than cozy and suspiciously without a kitchen. The walls were a pleasant cream color and the floor was a rich wood. It was a home that had been built with the best intentions.
Henry spent the next several hours arranging his belonging in the house. There wasn't much storage, and even though he had packed lightly he would still be living out of his bags for a while.
After he had moved in as well as he could, Henry decided he had better survey his land.
"You have got to be kidding me." Henry sighed. His hopes for an easy start brutally vanquished by trees and rocks. "It's like I'm starting from scratch. Where the hell did these rocks come from anyway? Do they fall from the sky or something?"
Scythe, ax, and pick in hand, Henry set to work.