Chapter 19: The Surprise Gift (SDVR)

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the sixth of spring

It was a hazy spring morning when Jade awakened. Her garden did not require too much attention. Within the hour, she had already completed her chores – weeding, watering, harvesting her parsnips, carrots, garlic, and parsley. As she wandered back to the cabin, she noticed something metal and large beside her mailbox.

It was an old Yum Cooker stove. The banana yellow paint was peeling in multiple spots, revealing the silver undercoat. A leg was missing, resulting in an uneven position and a tilt to her left, its right. There were scorch marks on the stovetop, and grease pooling in the bottom of the oven. But it was all hers – finally! A stove to cook meals. The note read ‘a gift from your neighbors… sorry it isn’t much...’ and was signed Gus and Gunther. Gus’s handwriting was quick and slanted, almost chicken scratch, and Gunther’s was flowy and flourished on the paper. Nonetheless, she was pleased. They promised to come by later that day to hook up her new kitchen appliance.

By eight in the morning, the skies were not much brighter, nor the temperature much warmer. No matter. Jade still decided to go for a walk. Perhaps she would stop by the Brewster-Silvian household to catch the gentlemen before work to thank them for their generosity. She found herself dreaming about meals she could cook, now that she had a stove and oven – parsnip soup, carrot cake, garlic bread, and a parsley chimichurri sauce drizzled over fresh-caught Arcadian salmon. Her mouth watered at the delicious thoughts.

“Well, hello there,” she smiled as a small field rabbit hopped up to her boot.

Its friend was chewing contently on strands of grass nearby. This was the first real wild animal she had encountered. The rabbit appeared friendly enough. Jade reached down and allowed the critter to sniff her hand. Hesitantly, the creature bopped her hand with its nose.

“Aww,” she said. “What’s good around here, fluff?”

The rabbit tilted its head and twerked an ear as if trying to make sense of human words.

Jade continued her stroll down the pathway and across a small stone footbridge. Soon, she encountered a portly gentleman with pale skin, red hair, and thick blue rims. He appeared dressed for running in his red long-sleeved shirt, grey-black shorts, and sneakers. He slowed to a jog when he saw her wave.

Bom Dia, I’m Jade Araújo,” she said.

He narrowed his eyes and leaned back. “I don’t speak Selvadoradan.”

“Oh… uh…” she was taken aback. “I just said… good morning.”

“Right, morning,” he forced a smile.

“I just moved in up the hill,” Jade continued, trying to make small talk with the man.

“Hey you’re Miss… uh… the new farmer?” he guessed. “…sorry, don’t think I can pronounce your name right,” he laughed half-heartedly. “Lewis told me about you.”

It took ever fiber of her being to hide a grimace as the man was extremely inconsiderate. “It’s Jade… like the precious mineral, and Araújo… uh-raa-hOH… like who with an accent.”

“I don’t do accents,” the man shook his head. “I was born Cascadian.”

“Oh… have a good day then,” Jade decided it would be best to move along.

“Wait,” he straightened, his stomach jutting out, his nose tilted, and his right shoulder slightly back. “No need to get offended. I’m Pierre Marchand, owner of the local general store. If you’re looking for seed, my shop is the place to go. I’ll also buy produce from you for a good price!”

“That’s good to know,” Jade acknowledged.

“I have a daughter around your age,” Pierre continued. “Abigail. She’s nineteen and at the technical college.”

“Oh, I’m not a teenager,” Jade corrected, though she neglected to mention she was ten years older.

“Ah…” Pierre pushed his index fingers together awkwardly. “You young folks… take it as a compliment.”

“I will,” she replied, pushing the biggest grin she could onto her face.

“It’ll be nice to have more produce variety,” Pierre remarked. “A little agriculture could really inject new life into the local economy.”

“I see,” she nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

“We Valley folk expect nothing less,” he waved as he continued his jog.

When Jade reached the top of her hill on the outskirts of her property, she was grateful to see a friendly face. Marnie brought a basket full of fresh eggs, much to Jade’s delight. After exchanging pleasantries, she shared about her recent encounter with a certain rude shopkeeper.

“Pierre can be an ass,” Marnie offered. “Just don’t let him bother you, and stand up for yourself.”

“Thanks, I did,” Jade said, though not as confidently as she would’ve liked.

“And if you want a real ass…” Marnie winked. “I sell donkeys on my ranch.”

“Ha!” Jade smirked. “I’ve had enough for one day.”

“So many strays…” Marnie exclaimed. “Your grandpa used to feed all of them.”

“Yes, I have quite the congregation,” Jade replied.

“Aww…” Marnie bent and petted a big black dog. “I would take all of you in if I could. Look at the little baby in the sweater,” she cooed.

“I was thinking about keeping a dog around here,” Jade said. “Might be useful for digging up things and scaring off critters once my garden really gets going.”

“It can get awful lonesome up here too,” Marnie sighed. “You could use the companionship.”

“Yes…” Jade trailed off.

She had never owned a pet, or had an animal companion before. Her father was allergic to fur, and her mamá hated anything with four legs it seemed. Always excuses. Too noisy. Too hairy. Too slobbery. Too messy. Too much work. No. No. No. Jade figured now that she lived in the country on a farm that a puppy wouldn’t be a bad idea. They would have plenty of land to roam and could be just what she needed to endure long, lonely nights.

“You know, you’re right,” she continued. “I have been thinking about this sweet dog…” she nodded toward the goldendoodle by her leg.

“Good choice,” Marnie approved. “You know I can help you expedite a license. I work part-time in the county clerk’s office.”

“You do?” Jade’s eyes widened. “Marnie you have so many jobs to do.”

“Keeps me busy,” Marnie remarked. “And I get to be near Lewis.”

“The mayor?” Jade arched a brow.

“Oh!” Marnie flushed and tilted her head. “Yes, I mean, the mayor. Sugar! I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“It’s okay,” Jade replied.

“We aren’t official or nothing. No titles. That’s not for me, you know, but we’ve been seeing each other… if you catch my drift,” Marnie admitted shyly.

“Your secret is safe,” Jade replied. “Um… can I ask you a question? Is Lewis always… er… pushy?”

“You mean pushing you right off a cliff into a project he concocted?” Marnie said and laughed lightly. “Yes. He gets these things in his head and then he won’t let go. Stubborn man.”

“Ah… yeah, he kinda recruited… well… uh…pushed me,” Jade started, frowned, and shook her head. “Well, really shoved me right into this project.”

“Right off a cliff,” Marnie nodded. “That’s the mayor for you. What’s the project? Maybe I can help.”

“Renovating the town community center over on Lonely Rock Island,” Jade said. “He seems to think my degrees and experiences might come in handy.”

Marnie’s eyes widened. “That’s a huge project for you to take on by yourself, lassie. I’m surprised he asked you. It hasn’t been high on his priority list.”

“Seems like the Governor and some funds for the town might play a role in speeding up this… project,” Jade replied, using ‘air quotes.’

“Well, I’m not sure how I can help,” Marnie said. “But I’ll ask around and see who’s available and has materials or ideas.”

“Thank you,” Jade nodded appreciatively. “I should get back to work.”

“No, I should get going too,” Marnie agreed. “Here are the eggs… say need help with that stove?”

“Uh… yes, I think Gus is coming by after work,” Jade glanced over at her large gift.

“No need to wait. You needed a refrigerator too and I’ve got several spares in my barn. I’ll send Shane over with delivery and he can help install too,” Marnie offered.

“Really?” Jade grinned. “Thanks. You already gave me eggs. At least let me pay you for the fridge.”

“Nonsense, what are neighbors for but to give you gifts and drop by unannounced!” Marnie waved her hand.

“I can’t take it for free,” Jade shook her head. “There must be something I can pay you… something you can use the money for?”

“I tell you what?” Marnie pondered momentarily. “Five hundred simoleons would cover my truck repairs and I’d still have some leftover to go get my hair and nails done this month.”

“Deal,” Jade stuck out her hand. “And I insist you come over for dinner tonight to celebrate with me.”

“Done,” Marnie grinned.

Author Notes: Thanks for reading. In Stardew Valley, the farmer doesn’t get a kitchen until much later, but I decided to put something in sooner for practicality. Jade needs to be able to cook meals, and it’s a bit unrealistic not to have at least a stove/fridge. I’ll save a full kitchen addition until later. Also I rolled for the luck and received a 4 – an excellent day. Also, Jade received a text message from Gus welcoming her to town so I decided the first “mailed” gift would be from Gus. I looked through off-the-grid items in the catalog and rolled at random to see what she would get. I didn’t plan to do both a stove and fridge, but I decided to subtract the cost of the fridge from her simoleons and gave Marnie those as a gift. And sidenote: I don’t speak Portuguese, but Bom Dia means Good Morning. Jade hasn’t used her family’s native tongue much, but I figured it was time to showcase a little bit. Didn’t expect to run into Pierre jogging on the morning walk… Pierre… of all people! Probably to avoid his wife’s “wellness” classes.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 19: The Surprise Gift (SDVR)

    Sims 3 Stories by Em said:
    March 25, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    “Pierre can be an ass,” Marnie offered. <—I laughed SO hard at that! 🤣 Because it's so true! So sweet of Gus and Gunther to give her a stove, even if it's old and decrepit. As long as it works. 👍 Sweet of Marnie to offer a fridge as well. I love small town friendliness and hospitality. ❤ I wonder how interactions will go between Jade and Shane when he comes to deliver the fridge and hook it up. 😉 😛


    cathytea said:
    March 25, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    I really enjoyed the neighborhood friendliness in this chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

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