Elijah Christensen took a deep breath.
He raised his gaze to the sky, and quickly wiped his brow with the back of his hand.
Yoba, he was out of shape.
Resting his hands on his hips, he cracked his back, that produced a couple of satisfying noises.
In front of him stood a beautiful view of the familiar green hills that surrounded the local carpenter, Robin’s, house. A couple of birds flew into the nearest tree, chirping, the branches slightly bouncing under their weights.
Spring was almost over, the days were getting longer and the air less chilly.
With his hands still on his hips, Elijah looked at his surroundings with a smile peeking on his lips. He was still panting slightly, but the scenery was pretty amazing.
He suddenly felt like an old man, as he tried to remember when was the last time he felt that exausted by a simple, mere walk.
He was never the sporty type, not even back at his times in the city.
All of the sport activities he was part of were forced in by his father, he never liked physical activities that much, aside from the occasional swim and day at the beach.
But basking in the sun with a beer in his hand and a cigarette in the other didn’t really count as a physical activity, right?
But moving to Pelican Town changed that. He was now forced to walk, move, and do more physical activity than he was used to, which was not necessarily a bad thing.
Maybe that was an opportunity to finally get in shape and start having an healthier life style?
Running a farm was time and energy consuming, and Elijah came to face that truth pretty quickly. He had never felt as weak and pathetic as in the last two weeks, when he had to start working his butt off from scratch, and without knowing jack shit about farming.
As his breath returned to normal, he looked around to find a spot to sit underneath the tree’s shade. His eyes caught a tree stump perfectly located underneath the shade, and when he sat his butt on the stump, his hand went instinctively searching through his jeans’s pocket.
His fingers quickly grabbed the pack’s cardboard sides and pulled out a cigarette, guiding it onto his lips.
That day had been pretty exausting: he managed to wake up at nine in the morning, which was still a pretty good achievement for a night owl like him, and had spent the rest of the morning cleaning up the yard surrounding the cabin. He didn’t even remember the last time he felt so exausted, but he had to admit that, when he looked back at the fruits of his hard work, he had felt proud of what he achieved.
When even was the last time he had done something that useful in his life? He truly didn’t remember.
He turned his attention and his gaze to his jean’s pocket: his hand had been searching into the fabric hole for some seconds, and he still hadn’t felt the cold surface of his lighter brushing his fingers.
Annoyed, he pulled out the fabric of his pocket, completely emptying it. A couple of nickles rolled on the grass, along with a used handkerchief.
-Oh, come on- he muttered, feeling the frustration dwell inside him. He couldn’t have forgotten his fucking lighter. He tried searching in his other pocket, but nothing.
He patted the front of his shirt in desperation, looking for any sign, but he knew he always carried his lighter in his jeans’s pockets. He bounced the cigarette in his lips with a sigh of frustration, quickly scanning his surroundings.
In front of him, the quiet waters of the lake rippled at the setting sun, producing a calming background sound. Not far away from him, he could see the opposite shore, and the adventurer’s guild’s wooden cabin, just next to the entrance of the mines.
Turning back and heading to the house meant at least another twenty-five minutes of walk, and having to wait for that amount of time to smoke his well-deserved cigarette was really unacceptable.
The truth was just that he wanted that damn nicotine, and he wanted it now. It didn’t help that he felt so tired from the walk and all the work.
He stared at his black skinny jeans, and poked the big hole on his knee with his finger with frustration.
For a second, as desperate as he was starting to feel, he even thought about turning into a fucking caveman and looking for two stones to beat against eachother, in the flebile hope to produce a spark to light his damned cigarette.
-That’s just pathetic, Elijah- he said to himself.
But maybe... Elijah’s gaze wandered around his surroundings, feeling an idea creeping into him.
He could see Robin’s house in a walking distance from him, the blue roof peeking through the tree’s green foliage and thick branches.
Could he ask Robin for a lighter? Elijah furrowed his brow, moving the cigarette behind his ear, absently moving a couple of blonde locks away from his cheeckbones. He was pretty sure that the lumberjack didn’t smoke, but maybe he could just ask her to use her stove’s fire to light his cig?
...Was that weird? He truly didn’t know her that well, but the red-headed lumberjack seemed to like him enough not to look at him like he was a complete weirdo, like –as he was pretty sure- some other villagers of Pelican Town were doing.
He made a visual list of other citizens that he might ask for a lighter, and he quickly realized there wasn’t really a good candidate anywhere around the small country village. Did anyone in Pelican Town even smoke? He was pretty sure he was the only one.
Probably, because he still was the ‘city boy’ that hadn’t left his old habits behind.
But fuck, after all of the work he pulled off that morning, he was pretty sure he had earned his cigarette.
As he stood up, he looked at the familiar yellow plastic tent planted on the hill right next Robin’s house. Linus, the man living in nature.
Would he have a lighter to lend him? Elijah chuckled to himself for the absurdity of that thought.
Adjusting his black shades on his nose, he walked in the direction of Robin’s house.
He took a quick gaze at his wrist watch: It was almost six o' clock.
-Shit- he muttered to himself again, fastening his pace. Robin’s shop closed usually around five in the afternoon, so he was already late.
He didn’t really want to bother her outside of working hours, especially for such a stupid, petty request... but yet, he reached for the door handle, and opened the wooden door with a firm swing.
When he entered the homestead, he felt a rush of relief when he saw the red-headed woman behind the wooden counter right in front of the door, apparently busy checking some paperwork.
She seemed to notice him right away, smiling at him and meeting his eyes with her own.
She always has a welcoming smile for him, something that made him always feel a little bit more comfortable when talking to her.
-Oh, Elijah! Welcome, welcome!- she welcomed him.
-Hey, Robin- Elijah smiled back, closing the door behind him. He sensed a pleasant smell of cinnamon in the air, coming from the hallway: perhaps someone was cooking. -I’m sorry to bother you. I’m sure you were closing up shop.-
-Oh, don’t worry about that! What can I do for you?-
When the reason he headed to the carpenter's place hit him again, he felt incredibly dumb all of a sudden.
He opened his mouth and closed it right away, uncertain on what to say, as his fingers went brushing his hair, something he subconsciously did when he was feeling nervous or embarassed. Suddenly, his quest for a lighter felt really stupid and out of place.
-I... well, I was wondering...- he sputtered, his eyes fixated on the wooden counter. Robin blinked.
Shit. It was such a dumb idea.
“Of course she doesn’t have a lighter, and of course she doesn’t want you to creep into her kitchen only to light up your crappy cigarette”
-My... my bed has been creaking a lot- he blurted out, and forced a nervous smile. -I think a couple of boards could be broken. I wanted to try to fix them, but uh, last time i tried to hammer something I almost smashed my finger, so, uh. I thought that maybe it was best to first ask you?-
That wasn’t so bad. He smiled again, mostly to reassure himself he wasn’t being a complete idiot.
Luckily, Robin didn't seem too weirded out by his request.
-That doesn’t surprise me, your grandpa’s furniture is probably as old as this town! Yoba knows how old those boards might be- She nodded. -I’m sure I can solve your problem pretty quickly. Might take a look at your porch too, while I’m at it. Are you free tomorrow morning?-
-Sounds good to me.-
-Tomorrow it is, then" I’m just sorry I have to make you spend a night on those crappy boards.-
-Oh, I’ll live.- Elijah shrugged and smiled at her. -Thank you, Robin.-
-You’re welcome, dear. I’ll see you in the morning!-
Elijah waved and headed out, closing the carved wooden door behind himself.
Only when he was outside the shop, he dared to take a deep sigh. If it was out of relief or frustration at his attempt, he didn't know.
The cigarette was still tugged behind his ear, pressed between his temple and his shades’ shaft.
He figured the whole bed boards situation was probably better than the alternative of just walking into her shop after closing time, and bother her just to light his cigarette.
Okay, Robin was nice to him, but she didn't know him so well. Elijah didn't feel like overstepping any boundaries, especially when he was new in Town, he knew it was important to give a good impression.
Also, it was all true: his bed was truly shit, and it was getting difficult to catch some sleep at night when he felt like his back was constantly being punched and poked by a dozen of wooden slates every night.
He loved Grandpa, and he loved his house, but some parts of it were in a serious need of a restoration.
Ankwardly scratching his head, he started to head towards the farm.
He turned his back to Robin’s house and he absently gazed at the house’s wooden fence: there was a little yard right on the side of the shop’s entrance that looked quite neglected, if it weren’t for the shiny metal telescope placed there.
Elijah had never seen anyone of the family using it, and he was pretty sure the object was just being stored there.
But just when he thought that the yard looked pretty abandoned, he saw something: a slender figure dressed in black, leaning against the fence, partially hidden by the telescope and some tall grass.
Elijah subconsciously slowed his pace, and stared at it, intrigued.
With one hand in his pockets and one right next to his lips, a little trail of grey smoke parting from his lips, the figure was indeed smoking a cigarette.
Elijah felt like he was struck by lighting, and he felt himself smile. What were the odds?
He leaned over the fence, his elbows brushing the irregular wooden poles, he watched the figure turning slightly towards him.
The guy was completely dressed in black, the sleeves of his hoodie rolled up near his elbows. He moved his gaze towards Elijah, the dark locks of his hair brushing lightly over his pale face.
With the cigarette lit and smoking between his index and middle finger, the guy raised a brow at him.
-Hey- Elijah said, flashing a smile. -Got a lighter?-
The guy glanced at him, quickly scanning him from head to toe. Only after some seconds of silence he nodded, and reached into his hoodie. With a swift movement, he tossed the lighter towards Elijah’s general direction.
His hand caught the lighter with no effort, the object felt pleasantly cold between his fingers.
-Ah, finally- he whispered to himself. He reached for the cigarette behind his ear and lit the extremity. The first drag felt so good that Elijah couldn’t help but smile.
Taking another drag right after the first one, he noticed that the guy in black was looking at him now. He hadn’t moved from his spot, but he could see that he was looking at him with a certain curiosity.
Elijah was most certain he had never seen this guy in Pelican Town before. Jet black hair combed in a casual and somehow natural wave, black hoodie and, he noticed as he smoked in silence, black, piercing eyes looking at him with an indecifrable expression.
He was pretty sure he would remember such a peculiar look. He didn’t look like the others, he thought as he took the cigarette to his lips again. Everyone in Pelican Town looked pretty... country, to say the least, but this guy dedfinitely didn’t fit the redneck image he had traced of the average Pelican Town villager.
He was almost startled when he heard the guy’s voice adressing him.
-Lost your lighter?- The guy's voice was calm, and he could sarcasm in it.
-M’fraid so.- Elijah shrugged. -Probably dropped it.-
He took another breath from the cigarette, the last one. His cigarette was almost out. -So hey, thanks for saving my day.-
The guy in black shrugged, bringing the cigarette to his mouth again in a calm gesture. He was still looking at him, in a somehow inquisitive way.
Elijah extinguished the cigarette on his shoe’s sole, and then stopped for a second.
If this were the city, he would throw the cigarette’s butt somewhere on the floor. But this wasn’t his apartment’s terrace in Zuzu City, so he decided to put it into his pocket. He would throw that away in his trashcan at the farm, he distantly thought.
He raised his head when he heard the guy in black’s voice, not expecting him to interact with him again.
-You’re the new farmer everyone's been talking about, right?-
-Ah, that would be me, yes.- Elijah replied, with a crooked smile. -I’m Elijah, by the way.-
And as he said that, he raised a hand in direction of the guy.
The guy in black stared at his extended hand, and showed no interest shaking it, or even move from his spot. Instead, he gave a small nod as Elijah ankwardly lowered his hand.
-I’m Sebastian. Whole town has been talking about you.- He took a puff from the cigarette. The sun was beginning to set, and the orange light of the cigarette silhoutted his profile, rimlight getting caught in his black locks.
-Yeah. I guess I’m the new trending topic in town- Elijah knew that his new arrival a couple of weeks before had shook the waters in the tiny village.
Lewis, the mayor, welcomed him with a warm but also expectant attitude. He had the feeling that the old mayor was looking forward to see his progress in the farm, and that worried him.
Elijah, to be honest, had no idea of what he was doing, and certainly didn’t want anyone in the town to look up to him in any way. Especially because he knew how well-known Grandpa was in the countryside village, and everyone seemed to keep reminding him how good and succesful he had been in his life, and how everyone was so excited to see where Jonathan Christiansen’s nephew would go.
Elijah silently grimaced at the thought.
-So, out of every place, you chose to move to Pelican Town- Sebastian said, with an indecifrable look on his face. Elijah couldn’t help but to feel the bitterness in his tone.
-Well... it’s kind of a long story.- Elijah answered, feeling cornered by Sebastian's tone and gaze. He brushed a couple of blonde locks away from his forehead. -One that would probably bore you to death, so I’ll save it.-
He took a quick glance at his watch. It was six thirthy.
Happy that he had a reason to escape that weird conversation, that was dangerously swifting over his own life and reasons behind moving to Pelican Town, he stretched his arms and nodded in the general direction of his farm.
-Well, I’ll better head back. Thank you again for the lighter. I’ll se you around, yeah?-
Sebastian gave a slight nod at him, throwing the finished cigarette on the ground.
Someone here clearly doesn't care much about the environment.
And with that, Elijah started heading back towards the farm, the sky now a lovely tint of rosy-orange, the twilight peeking in from the violet clouds, and his joints hurting with every step he took.
He managed to avoid having to explain his motifs to a complete stranger, but just barely.
He better watch out for Pelican Town and his villagers, he thought.