I Can Only Pretend

At exactly six in the morning, the cries of a rooster pierce through the peaceful rest of the farmhouse in Stardew Valley.

Before my character is even entirely out of bed, my day has already been decided. I’d like to pretend it was really my idea, but it honestly wasn’t. Before I even get out of the house, I pick up and start another gold bar.

The crops are stretched across the field south of my house. Several grids of crops expand to the south and west, along with the occasional scarecrow, a well, barn, coop, and silo. These crops need to be watered, and my watering can’s maximum range has already determined the shape of the crop grids. I arranged these crops, but the decision was less mine and more the terrain’s.

At 11:20 AM, as with every morning, the crops had been watered, my can refilled. Tomorrow, the crop would be fully grown, and I would finish shipping them at 12:30 PM, but today, I was free from crops at 11:20.

Coop and barn came next. Two cows, one goat, one pig all needed obligatory cooing, two of the four needed milking, and the cheese maker outside was going to start making cheese from one of the large milks the cows produce. Chickens, duck, and rabbits were next. I gathered the eggs, started the mayo, and brought the rest of the products out to the shipping bin.

At 12:30, I picked up a new piece of bait from the bait machine next to the bin, and ran south to refill the bait in my crab pots. The pots were mostly garbage, which I would later turn to refined quartz or torches, but there were occasional snails or crawfish in among the debris.

At 12:50, my collections and joggings would be done, and I’d be free to leave the farm. Unlike yesterday, the crops hadn’t finished growing, so I didn’t need to run to the department store to buy more seeds. Lucky for me, since the store was closed on Wednesdays.

However, my journal had a task it needed me to accomplish. Catch 3 Sunfish – You can keep the fish afterward. 300g. So that’s what I did. The river in town was a fickle mistress, and regularly gave me small mouthed bass for my trouble. They sold alright enough, but they weren’t what I was looking for. By 3:00 PM, it almost wasn’t worth continuing. Willy would be closing up shop and wandering off somewhere in a few hours.

My next journal task was more straightforward, find and kill 3 Red Slimes from the lava levels of the local mine. The minecart behind the Blacksmith got me to the mine at 3:30. The elevator took me straight to level 80.

By 6:30, I had killed at least one slime. Despite having handled a few floors by now, I was having bad luck with enemies. Happens at times. Time.

Tick tock.

At 7:00, I had killed the slimes I needed. The next floor down had done me a favor. Could I make it to the wizard in time? Need to find the ladder.

At the wizard’s tower, from the bus stop mine cart, at 8:10. Thank God for coffee. Would the door still be unlocked? I tried it, it worked. Here, have a Void Essence. Also, you had money for me?

9:10 and I’m back at home. Gold bar, start forge. Did I pet the cat today? Meow. Guess I didn’t; whoops. Did I pet the wife today? Hug, kiss. Nope, didn’t do that either. I’m bad at this. Wait, crap, forgot about the mayo.

Ran outside, grab the Mayo. 9:40. Both jars. Swing around the crops, grab the cheese. Inventory’s full. Crap. Forgot about the fish. Run back to the shipping. Dump a bunch of items. Who needs all these Chub anyway? Dump the Mayo too. Run back for the cheese. Grab it. Dump it.

Back inside, 10:20. Weather, rain; fortune, neutral; Life on the Farm, sashimi only requires a random fish. Gold bar? Gold ore! Forge lights up the living room. Cat’s in the way. Click, “mooooooove!” Cat shuffles half an inch. “You’re bad at this.” Click, click. Jamming on the D key as hard as I can. Stupid cat. Meow. Jackass.

10:40? Bed time. Cat’s asleep before I am. In six hours and twenty minutes, the rooster’s going to scream again. Will I get to decide my schedule then, either? Nope, potatoes are coming in. Harvest will be finished no earlier than 12:40, then I’ll have to milk the goat and cows. Earliest I’ll be able to get into town will be 2:00, at best. At least my gold axe should be done by then.

Crap, forgot to check the Bat cave. Maybe I’ll get to make Plum wine this time. Should sell well, at least, even it if takes forever to brew.

At exactly six in the morning, the cries of a rooster pierce through the peaceful rest of the farmhouse in Stardew Valley. Before my character is even entirely out of bed, my day has already been decided.

Written for Critical Distance‘s Blogs of the Round Table under the “Choreography” theme. If this is up your alley, go give the other pieces a read.

Taylor Hidalgo is a freelance writer, editor, and slave to his farming sims. He’d try to convince you they’re fun games that don’t steal your soul, milk your time, and brew wine out of your productivity, but he’d be lying. You can find more of his work here, or on Twitter.

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