the fifth of spring
As Jade walked up the gangplank, she was half-tempted to stop by Lewis’s home and give him a piece of her mind. Before she could decide, her phone jingled. It had been days since she checked her messages. Her reception was spotty on the farm, and she still didn’t have electricity. Alex was kind enough to let her borrow a battery pack while he rowed back to shore. She noticed an email from her dad.
The email was signed, “Thinking of you. 💕 Dad and Mom.” Jade chuckled to herself. Oh Dad. I miss you. His fatherly jokes were pretty funny, even if she rolled her eyes. There was another email from Cash’s estate lawyer. She frowned. She couldn’t open it just yet. The ‘Dear Ms. Araújo‘ in the headline was another depressing reminder that she was not, and would never be, Mrs. Cassius Landgraab.
There was an email from her old workplace, which only fueled her resolve to really go and give the mayor a rather large chewing-out, which he rightfully deserved. How dare he use her past job and family connection to engender guilt! The work email was succinct and impersonal as always. Human Resources wanted to know where to send her final paycheck. She typed her new address into the email and sent it off without a second thought. That chapter of her life needed to be closed.
The text message caught her by surprise. She could see her breath circulating in the air. She frowned, not because she wasn’t flattered, but because she had no idea how to react. Her heart inflated with many different emotions at once – grief, guilt, and the last one, an odd fleeting bit of happiness. She wasn’t sure she could allow herself to feel genuine happiness. At least not yet.
So this is gonna sound crazy… I know we’re friends and all but… well… okay, here it goes: I HAVE A CRUSH ON YOU. Phew. Okay it’s all out there. Um… so… would you want to go out with me sometime? You’re super cool. I really want to hang out with you more…?
“Oh Sam!” she covered her mouth with a moan.
It was funny. She could hear his voice in the words. They hadn’t known each other long, but the single text, all one breath, she could hear his voice. It pushed up against the voice of Cash in her head, telling her he loved her. It tugged on her heart. She liked Sam. She actually liked him and maybe someday she would be ready to be more than friends, but right now, she didn’t even know how to respond. To set aside the ache. To pull away from the loneliness and let the light in. To let go of the man who loved her and saw deep into her soul. To put herself out there and take a chance again. Cash wouldn’t want her to live like a half-empty shell of who she once was, but she wasn’t ready to take that step and explore a relationship with someone new.
“Watch where you’re going,” the voice said as a figure in all black brushed past.
Jade dropped her cell phone, startled, into her pocket. “You watch it!” she said, angrily, a little more harshly than she intended.
The figure was Sebastian. He just shrugged, and kept walking.
“Don’t you walk away from me,” Jade snapped, not fully feeling like herself, overcome with conflicting emotions and the day’s frustrations. “I’ve about had enough of rude Stardew Valleyers.”
Sebastian halted his steps, half-turned, and gave her a point-blank stare. Yes, she knew she sounded crazy. But she was tired. And sad. And annoyed. She didn’t care.
“Did you really just say Stardew Valley-ers?” he quirked a brow.
“Yes,” Jade released an exasperated sigh.
“Huh?” he replied.
“Huh, what?” she engaged, though she wasn’t quite sure why or what she was attempting to accomplish.
Sebastian retraced his steps. “Just sounds like someone’s had a bad day.”
“You think?” she snipped sarcastically, then let her shoulders drop in slight embarrassment. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be,” he shrugged. “You say what you feel. That’s more than a lot of people round here.”
“But I’m er… being kinda rude too,” Jade scratched the side of her head.
“New girl, for reals, just chill about it,” Sebastian said. “It’s no sweat off my back.”
She flushed, the sound of ‘new girl,’ oddly pleasing. “Um… okay…” she accepted, reluctantly. “So what are you doing out so late?”
“Is it late?” he glanced at his thick black wristwatch. “I guess it is. I like night walks.”
“Oh,” she replied, though she wasn’t sure how to move on.
“What are you doing?” he asked with a grin. “Trolling the docks for Voidcritters?”
“Spent the day out on Deadgrass Island.”
“Catch anything good?”
“No… I didn’t go to fish.”
“Oh. That’s really all people do out there. And check out the boring-as-hell museum,” Sebastian kicked a chunk of brick.
“Is it?” her eyes widened.
“Yeah,” he confirmed. “If you ask me, they should plant more trees.”
“Trees?” Jade repeated.
“The logging industry is wrecking the economy and environment over there,” he grabbed a cigarette out of his pocket.
She shook her head when he offered one.
“Suit yourself,” Sebastian said. “Have a good night, New Girl.”
“Yeah, you too… er… Sebastian,” she waved awkwardly after him.
Author Notes: The letter from Jade’s dad is a mod I use in Stardew Valley by Lumisteria called ‘Letters from Parents.’ It adds some fun things for the mailbox, and sometimes the parents send items or gold. Sam sent the text message all on his own in The Sims, and I loved it. What a surprise and right out of the gate a bachelor is eyeing our girl, Jade. Also Sebastian randomly confessed that he feels strongly about Speak for the Trees. I have my own theories about why that is, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, what do you think of Sam? Should Jade go for it? Or do you think she’s wise to wait? Thanks for reading.