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New Beginnings

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She didn’t like new beginnings. 


All the handshakes, awkward small talk, people calling her “Farmer” and ignoring her name even though she hadn’t touched her inherited land yet. It was all too much for her introverted soul. She hadn’t had relationships with substance in the city, but at least there she could be alone in peace. That wasn’t going to happen in a place as small as Stardew Valley. 


That being said, it was a very, very exhausting first day for her in the Valley- yet she still couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned in the old mattress gone lumpy from age but sleep still would not take her, no matter how much her eyes burned. Her frustration continued to build until finally it was greater than her exhaustion. Ripping the covers off, she threw on some acceptable clothes and headed out. 


She hadn't explored the southern portion of her farm yet, so she decided to do just that. She picked her way carefully down the fenceline, stepping over branches and rocks, wading through grass that reached her hips. Finally there was a break in the fence, opening up to more clear land, but this time with tended grass height. She stepped into this shorter grass, looking around curiously. She couldn’t see much this time of night- the clock had read almost midnight when she left- but she did recognize the giant silo that belonged to the animal lady- Marnie?- had next to her house. 


She was in Cindersap Forest. How the hell did she end up here?! 


The forest was her last visit of the day. She hadn’t taken the path to the north, thinking it would lead to more people she didn’t feel up to talking to. How wrong she had been. She wanted to bash her head in at the thought; she had taken the longest way possible home and was forced into more small talk on the way there. Well, she wouldn’t be making that mistake again. 


Turning her attention away from the silo, she glanced around the rest of the forest. When she looked to the east she noticed a light. There was a person next to this light. She wasn’t sure if she knew this person yet- all the faces kind of blurred together by the end of the day, and she couldn’t really tell from this distance anyway. 


Curious, she started to make her way over to the light. The closer she got, the more she started to notice- she definitely didn’t know him yet, there was a pack of something next to him (probably beer, given the time of night), and he was actually on a dock. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she walked a few more paces until her feet hit the wood of the dock. “Mind if I join you?” she asked, her voice quiet in the still of the night. 


There was no verbal response. Instead, he reached over and grabbed a can, holding it back to her. Taking that as a yes, she accepted the drink and sat next to him. Not knowing what to say, she stared at the pull tab on the can (definitely beer), debating if the loud sound was worth opening it. 


“Buh… life,” he said suddenly, startling her. She nodded in agreement, not able to find her voice to respond. 


“You ever feel like… no matter what you do, you’re gonna fail?” he asked then continued without waiting for a response. “Like you’re stuck in some miserable abyss and you’re so deep you can’t even see the light of day?” 


Again, she nodded empathetically. His words hit close to home, causing tears to well up in her eyes, her throat closing up with emotion. 


“I just feel like… no matter how hard I try… I’m not strong enough to climb out of that hole.” 


‘Fuck it,’ she finally thought, cracking open the beer and chugging it. If she was gonna have this personal of a conversation with a stranger, she needed some courage. 


When she finished it off, he flashed her a sardonic grin. “Fast drinker, huh? Woman after my own heart.”


She laughed quietly and sat the empty can down, trying to form a proper response to his words. Her mind fell short though, especially now that it was clouded with alcohol. The two sat in a heavy silence for a few minutes before he finally spoke again. “Why the hell did you move out here, farmer? Nothin’ good in this town.” 


She turned to face him, the smallest hint of a smile on her face. “I’m trying to climb out of the hole,” she replied, her voice barely carrying the short distance between them. 


He had been looking at the water when he asked the question, but his head jerked to face her at her words. A moment of understanding flashed between them as their eyes met. Two lost souls, just trying to find a way to make sense of life. 


‘His eyes are so green,’ she thought to herself after a moment, having not noticed before. The kind of brilliant green she had never seen before in her life. Then she saw the emotion in those eyes, complicated and swirling emotions that she couldn’t even begin to decipher. She looked away, heat rising to her cheeks. 


He took this opportunity to down what little was left of his drink. “I think it’s time for me to call it a night,” he said when he finished. “My liver’s begging me to stop.” 


She nodded as he stood. He surprised her when he offered a hand out. Accepting it, she pulled herself back to her feet, but neither let go when she was steady. 


“I’m Shane, by the way,” he finally offered. 


“Nice to meet you, Shane,” she replied, her voice finally finding some strength. 


“See you around?” he said, finally letting go of her hand. 


“Yeah,” she whispered, a smile growing on her face. He waved and set off, leaving her at the dock. 


...Maybe new beginnings weren’t so bad afterall.