"Well, here we go," he said, looking towards the village. He started on the path, then paused.
"Here we go?" his wife asked.
"There are just... a lot of choices," he said.
"There are," she agreed, looking in the same direction, a little worriedly.
"It feels like there should be an easier way, you know? For our first time?"
"I heard tales of an easier kind of game, yes," she said. "But I don't think it's in the cards for us." She looked at all the improvements and occupations they were keeping in the well-stocked board game closet for now, pretending they didn't really exist. "Literally."
"At least we're made of something, instead of just being digital like my cousin," he said, trying for philosophy. He thought back on what he just said. "Actually, I think I've decided what to do," he added, heading down the path towards the forest's pile of wood.
"More wood?" she said, looking bored.
"Yes! I have great plans for our fences! Look at how well it'll fill our farm," he said, turning the board towards her on the table.
"It's just that no matter how much wood we get, some neighbor always seems to grab the fences first. Shouldn't we try to get something to eat..?"
He frowned at her, then went to look outside. "There's still time, no?" he asked, craning his head to look at the cornucopia floating in the sky. "Please, dear."
She went off toward the village, and he went back to poring over his plans, until-
He turned around swiftly. "What's this?" he asked, after a moment of silent bewilderment
"A sheep!" she said gleefully.
"I can see that," he said.
"I'm thinking of naming it Perry," she said. And then she actually hugged the beast.
He sighed. "Well, at least now our fences will be useful as well as pretty."
"Oh, no, I'm keeping Perry right here with us," she said. "Like a nice pet, aren't you, Perry?"
"Right," he said. "Of course."
He went outside and saw Red, hard at work on beautiful fences.
"They took them before I could," said his wife, coming out of the house. She stood next to him and he wished she could wrap an arm around his back. "Don't worry, we'll get them eventually."
He sighed. "Let's go back inside," he said. "Or else your Perry will munch on my best laid plans."
"Well, at least your wood was useful," she said, chewing her bread slowly.
"I'm still not really clear on how wood can be turned into food," he said, eyeing the bread suspiciously. He took a bite. Or tried.
"It is a little tough," she said, laughing at his expression. "Count your blessings, at least it wasn't clay."
"Have you seen Blue's farm?" she said. "They added a room."
"Did they," he said, sowing three fields at a time. "Probably couldn't think of anything cooler to do, since we clearly took the best spots in town."
"You need an extra room to have a child," his wife said, her meaningful tone going completely over his head
"I heard that's not true all the time, down the road," he replied. "And it's not like it makes sense, I mean, if there's room for a sheep in your house, I don't see how a newborn would need more space than that-"
"I took the first player spot," she said. And he would have gotten the hint, he would have, he wasn't completely oblivious, it's just that the sowing was taking up a lot of his concentration, three at a time was quite something.
"Great! Fencing time!"
"You're not going to have enough wood, once I add an extra room," she said, her tone particularly frosty.
He finally looked up.
"Oh," he said. "You're right. Of course. I... will... grow the family."
"Thank you," she said graciously, going back into the house.
He looked in the distance, at his single stable hosting a single sheep, and he sighed.
Basic Wish for Children
He walked pretty merrily, considering, to the family growth space. (Barely looked at the empty Fences spot on the way.) He waited a couple of seconds, and sure enough, another fully-grown farmer, hat and all, dropped from the sky right beside him.
"I did it," he told his wife, coming home with their child. He paused and looked at her while the third member of their family settled down in the new room. "It feels like there's something missing from the process."
"I have no idea what you mean," his wife said. He thought he could feel his hands reaching for her, but she was already going back to her room.
"You're probably right," he said to the empty room, and went to sleep. In his cold bed. Alone.
"Hope you're well-rested," he said, "and ready to harvest some grain!"
"Why are you giving me so little food?" his wife asked.
He looked at the table. At the two portions in front of him. At the three others portions he'd put down, two for his wife, one for his newborn.
At the identical faces of his wife and child.
"Dearest," he said, plucking a flower from the vase and placing it carefully on her hat. "Have you ever thought about accessorizing? This violet just brings out your coloring."
"Thanks," she said. "I am not fooled," she added, taking the extra portion from their newborn's plate, "but thanks."
"And you say you can keep this Duffy-"
Hearing his name, Duffy grunted particularly loudly.
"This Duffy," he repeated, louder, "anywhere in the house."
"Yes," she said. "I'm an Animal Tamer! Got some wood when I became one, too," she said, like she knew she had to butter him up.
(It was kind of working.)
"Child?" he called out. "You're getting a pig in your room!"
"It feels unfair that I work as hard as you do and you still get to boss me around!" their child complained.
"Stand closer to the top of the bag next time, then," he shrugged.
Urgent Wish for Children
"It still feels like there's something we could do better in this whole reproduction process," he said, as his wife came home with their second child.
"Scoot over," she said, climbing into bed with him. "Hope you're less of a mouth-breather than Perry."
He snuggled closer to her. "Any ideas? About child-making?"
"Sleep," she said.
"Oh my god," he said, as she came home triumphant.
"Isn't all this clay nice?" she asked. "Look at all the details... how warm the color is..."
"Yes," he said, "very nice." He thought he could probably win awards for patience. Maybe that was an occupation he could try for next time, Patient Listener.
She blathered on for a while, keeping an eye on him, until finally- "I can't keep this charade up anymore! Who cares about the clay! Go, go on, build your fences!"
He ran out of the room.
They lost. The fences made up for it.