After some time, well a long time, I've come back to this. Done a little refining, but it isn't perfect. Over the past few years my writing has hopefully gotten a lot more smooth. Anywho, hope y'all enjoy. Let me know what you think.
'H' is for Hurricanes
"You have GOT to be kidding me!"
It was all I could manage in a frustrated outburst as I stared in disbelief, hands pushing back the shaggy hair away from my eyes for better viewing of the devastation in front of me. I really needed a haircut, but with the sight of the crops I had nearly ready to be harvested had been uprooted, it was the lowest priority on my growing list of priorities. After an already stressful summer season, going payday to payday, and having to sell almost everything I produced or found, my time in Castanet was quickly becoming worse. It was hot, humid thanks to the storm that had just wrecked my farm, which just so happened to have thrown everything I'd grown around my land like confetti at an over enthusiastic child's birthday party. Strewn around carelessly. Branches over here, rocks over there. Stalks of young corn waaay over there.
And the worst part, out of everything, was that I was hungry.
But thanks to Hurricane Margaret, I had nothing to cook with, not to mention nothing to make profit off of either. Unfortunately, having nothing to cook with meant I had to show my face in town. And that was not something I was particularly fond of…
It wasn't so much the l o n g walk I had started as it was the l o n g conversations I was typically forced to endure. You know, the ones that start off with small talk, the typical "Oh how're you doing Kase? Your crops doing well?"
Like, no, they've just been uprooted for the third time in my first summer and I'm about to have a nervous breakdown.
I swear if Maya tries to flirt with me again…
The thought alone was enough to make my shoulders tense, withdraw into myself like an angry little turtle. She was my age but she just looked so young with the her pink attire and hair split into pigtails, not to mention how hyper she was. All I ever saw her eat were sweets. Cakes and cookies and pudding, nothing else. Nothing in the world could make me see her as potential date material, despite her hardest efforts.
Which were mostly poorly made baked goods and free apple juice every time I saw her. Even though I don't like apple juice.
I couldn't help but space out on the walk to town, my hands shoved into empty pockets, eyes downcast. I learned the hard way not to make eye contact, it was a hard habit to break after working so many years of hospitality in the city. Where the rule of making eye contact and saying hello to anything that came within five feet of you was beat over your head all day. So desperately did I want out of that world. Now, I almost missed the anonymity of it.
But all that aside, I'd forgotten another, more favorable city dweller habit. Weaving around people without paying any attention. What used to be a thoughtless yet toned technique quickly was forgotten. The proof? A thud, for starters, one that kind of hurt.
"I swear Kasey, y'better start watchin' where yer goin' or else I'm gonna have to think y'run into me on purpose every day." And, of course, Kathy chastising me from her crumpled spot on the ground in front of me before taking my assistance to stand up.
"Well, maybe you could use the other half of the bridge when you see me coming." Sure, I could stay close to one side myself, but it'd become an autopilot route. That and well, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box when I'm half in my brain, half in lala land. "I walk the same path every time I come down here you know."
"Guess I always hope ya actually look up. Gotta admit too," both her hands went straight to her butt to dust dirt off probably the shortest skirt I've ever seen her wear. Thankfully she was in a good mood, giggling when she caught me observing her action with disinterest. "Was kind of spacy myself. Aheh. What actually brings y'down here?"
"What brings you up out of here?" Kathy never liked questions being turned back on her, but it was fun to do anyway. Her cheeky smile quickly morphed into a pout matching the crossed arms she sported at me. So satisfying, especially the huff when my gaze squinted and shifted behind her towards my unfortunate destination. "Ah, see. Not so fun is it."
"Well gee, honey. Sorry for makin' small talk with ya. But if you have ta' know. I'm a delivery girl today, pickin' up stuff from the Banks'. Eggs, milk 'nd the like. Mostly fer peach fuzz since he's too good to get it himself when he lives right next door."
Sometimes, when Kathy rolled her eyes, I was certain they'd never come back from the depths of her skull. This was one of those times, yet those huge emeralds came right back like always. Alongside the pangs of hunger I'd momentarily forgotten. Time to make my escape, with sidestep, clap, and wave. "Sucks to hear you have to leave air conditioning for a while, but listen. I'm hungry. So I'm gonna let you get to your errands, kay? Kay, cool. Bye Kathy."
"Bye, stop by th-"
"The bar sometime, yeah, yeah," I interrupted over my shoulder, hand still lazily waving in the air for the duration of her annoyed huff and tongue click.
I occasionally felt bad for being such a jerk to her. She seemed to really care, flirt too much, but care. Unfortunately for her, it was only an occasional feeling. She might care, but I don't. Especially when it's clear the treatment I get isn't special or anything. All the guys get it if it means a little extra tip is on the counter.
If anything, I wish Maya were more like her. Less focused on me and more on getting things done, even if it's a little manipulative when people are tipsy. But it was almost as if the second I'd thought her name she knew I was around, because my hand barely pushed the Inn door open and yet a delighted squeal greeted me.
"Kasey~! What brings you down to town? OH. Are you hungry? We just finished making cookies, and they're the kind with little heart sprinkles on them! We made them for Chloe's birthday. It's early but she'll be super happy!" The way she bounced in circles around me despite my blatant ignoring her was too much like a puppy. I think I'd prefer the puppy, if it didn't make her like me more. "Kasey, how come you look so tired? It's only 10 o'clock, did you stay up too late? You know what'll help-"
"You being a little quieter would help, Maya." Interruptions seemed to be par for the course today if I wanted anything to go my way. Seeing how disconnecting was not working out.
"Oh, sorry. But I really think a little sugar would help get you going! We have those cookies remember? And-"
"You said they were for Chloe, how could I do that to a little girl? Eat her birthday cookies. That's heartless." As was my expression. Glare and frown super combo, I swear it made her pigtails deflate as her fingers fidgeted with her apron. "I just want a sandwich, and water. Preferably before I perish."
As soon as the last little bit of cash I had was on the counter, my hands swiftly retreated to my pockets. Else she'd try to apologize by sticking candy in one of those two places. Much, and I was absolutely thankful, to my surprise she just nodded and slipped into a slow skip away. My queue to wait at a table by the door for a second, hopefully, quick escape. Promptly ruined by her father, Jake, sitting down across from me.
"Ain't often we see you around here Kasey."
And this was why.
"Well, I have a more than full time job. So." I gestured in a 'what do you expect' manner. Sometimes I wondered what these people thought I did all day. Since, getting up at 5 AM to start farming wasn't exactly their first thought. "Makes it a little hard to have a social life.
Not that I wanted one.
"Yeah, understandable." The sigh heaved wasn't worthy of sympathy. The lack of follow up, however, that was weird. It was either lengthy conversation or just a hello with Jake, and he'd started half but seemed to have quit.
"Is, there a reason you sat down, Mr. Collins?" Once the question was asked, I immediately regretted it. I'd broken my number one rule: Don't ask unnecessary questions.
"Yes, just waiting t'see when my daughter will pop her head out." His voice was unusually softened. Though he didn't dare look towards the kitchen like I did. I expected her to show up then and there like always, but she didn't. "You see, she likes you."
"Mmmhm. I'm aware." My tone was even flatter the second time. And begrudgingly, I made a third attempt to keep my hair out of my face. Accomplished at last with the help of a makeshift headband from a rubber band found in my pocket.
"I don't want her heart broken. Y'hear?"
He had to be joking. I did literally everything I could but die to avoid her 99% of the time. The other 1% was when I was just way too tired to give a care. Like today.
"Sir, with all due respect, I do absolutely everything in my power to avoid your daughter. Save starve myself when my crops are destroyed." He didn't like that answer. The five lines that appeared between his eyebrows said that loud and clear. But for once I could say Maya saved me by popping way too happily into the dining area with my sandwich.