Amelia woke up in the morning to find that something had changed in her room: a strange gnome had appeared in the night. It was the sign that her first ever Harvestfest had arrived!
After getting dressed, she was very excited to attempt her first ever tradition: appeasing the gnomes. She thought he might like some of her mother’s fruitcake, so brought a plate to him. “Hello, Mr. Gnome,” she said nervously. “My mum made some fruitcake, I thought you might like some.” She wasn’t really sure what she was supposed to do next, so she put the plate on the floor next to him. “Here you go.”
The gnome glowed for a moment, and then the fruitcake disappeared. He looked happy – it had worked! Amelia was thrilled that she’d managed to successfully appease a gnome on her first attempt and pumped the air with her fist. Holidays were fun! Now what next?
Amelia pulled out the boxes of decorations her mum had bought the week before in anticipation of Harvestfest and began rummaging through them for some decorations for the house. Since she, like her mum, loved keeping things neat and tidy, decorating was something that thrilled her. The gnomes seemed to be following her, but she didn’t mind. She had plenty more fruitcake if they got to be a problem.
The smell of the turkey Valerie was roasting was filling the house and making Amelia’s stomach rumbled. In true Harvestfest tradition, she’d skipped breakfast to leave room for the huge meal she knew was coming! It would be almost 3pm by the time they would sit down for lunch, but Amelia knew it would be worth the wait.
Sure enough, the food was delicious, and the three of them ate outside on the new patio table Akira had bought for them. Amelia was a big fan of the umbrella.
“So, what are we thankful today?” Valerie asked between mouthfuls of turkey.
“I’m thankful for this amazing food,” Akira said excitedly, bits of stuffing spraying out of his mouth as he spoke.
“Gross!” Amelia exclaimed as a chunk landed on her cheek, and Valerie laughed. “I’m thankful we have a nice bath so I can wash Akira’s cooties off me!”
Akira glared at Amelia and opened his mouth to speak, but Valerie jumped in first. “Well, I’m thankful for my family; the two of you have made my life so much happier than it used to be, and I feel so lucky that I had you so young, Amelia. I’m still young; I still have my whole life ahead of me, and I get to spend it with you!” Valerie smiled at her beautiful daughter, and Amelia forgot her annoyance at Akira.
Akira was still glaring at Amelia. “Aren’t you thankful for me, too, Val? We have our whole lives ahead of us too, you know,” he hinted, his jealousy flaring up a little. Quite how he could be jealous of a child, Valerie wasn’t sure.
“Of course I’m thankful for you, Akira,” Valerie replied, barely suppressing a sigh at his neediness. “You helped me through a very difficult time in my life, and now things are so much better than they used to be.” She put down her fork and reached out for his hand, staring into his eyes. “Thank you.”
After clearing away the dishes, Valerie got to work in her garden, while Akira and Amelia got to work raking up some of the leaves that were littering the yard. Thanks to Amelia’s appeasal of the gnome that morning, he’d donated some seeds and Valerie took the opportunity to expand her garden. He’d given her a handful of holly seeds, which was exactly what she’d needed; fall would be over soon, and her roses and snapdragons wouldn’t survive the winter.
Amelia wasn’t too happy about having to do chores, but she knew once it was over she’d be free to spend the rest of the day however she wanted. Besides, her mum had told her that doing chores was an important part of the Harvestfest tradition. Amelia wasn’t so sure about that one, nobody at school had said anything about that. But she wasn’t one to complain about making things neater!
Akira, meanwhile, had decided to leave Amelia to deal with the leaves that were left and get to work “disposing” of the leaves that had piled up from his own raking. The fire warmed his face and he couldn’t help but smile. Outdoor fires always reminded him of his old home in San Myshuno.
Once most of the leaves were raked up, Amelia and Akira decided to call it a day. “Thanks for helping,” Amelia said.
“Any time,” Akira replied off-handedly. “The bonfires were nice, it reminded me a bit of San Myshuno. It’s a shame you and your mum can’t leave Newcrest, because I’d love to take you there one day.”
“Really?” Amelia asked, her eyes growing wide. “But we’d have to spend so much time together.”
“What?” Akira stared at her dumb for a moment, a crestfallen look on her face. “Amelia, do you really think I don’t like you?”
“I mean, you always look so annoyed when I’m spending time with Mum,” Amelia muttered in response, trailing off mid-thought.
“I’m so sorry,” Akira replied, kneeling down to her height so he could meet her eye. “I am so thankful to have met you, Amelia, and to get to be a kind of weird, not-quite-step-dad to you. I–I always get a little jealous when I’m dating someone. It’s something I’m not proud of and I try to avoid, but I just…” Akira sighed and shook his head. “Please, forgive me.” He pulled her into a hug.
“Okay,” Amelia said over his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him.
After the emotional moment with Akira, Amelia still decided to head out to the playground near her home. She still wanted some friends of her own age, after all! She hung out on the monkey bars alone for a few hours, but nobody else showed up. Just as she was about to make her way home, another child finally appeared!
Amelia walked up to him, a smile on her face. “Hi,” she said cheerily, waving at him. “My name’s Amelia, what’s yours?”
“Hi, I’m Justice,” he replied. “Nice to meet you! Do you live near here?”
“I live just over there,” Amelia replied, pointing towards her house. “What about you?”
“I live in Brindleton Bay, but the parks here are way nicer,” he replied. “I wish I could move out here, but I’d miss all the cats too much! Have you ever been to Brindleton Bay? There are cats everywhere! And dogs, too, I guess, but mainly cats!”
“That sounds so cool,” Amelia replied excitedly. “I’ve never even seen a cat! I’d love to have a pet cat, but my mum says we don’t have enough money for one right now.” She pouted as she said it, And Justice laughed.
“You should come and visit us sometime, you can meet my cats!”
Amelia frowned. “I can’t,” she said, “my mum says I’m not allowed to Newcrest, apparently it isn’t safe anywhere else.”
“Oh, that sucks,” Justice said, the wind knocked out of his sails a little. “Well, we’ll just have to hang out here instead!”
“That sounds great,” Amelia replied with a smile. “I should start heading home now, but it was nice to meet you!”
“You too,” Justice replied, and they went their separate ways.
Note from the Author: Hope you liked this chapter! I had a lot more I wanted to add but it was getting a little long so I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in splitting it into two chapters! Next update will be at 7pm GMT on Thursday, see you all then 🙂