Waking up the next day, I knew something wasn’t feeling right. Getting up, I realized my body was aching all over and my legs were hurting. I supposed it made sense: I stayed up late, planting new vegetables and making sure the ones already in the ground were doing alright. So far, I couldn’t afford a mechanical sprinkler to install and I had to make sure my garden didn’t wilt before it even had a chance to get off the ground.
Taking a few steps, I realized I might need to take it easy. I almost fell over, which, luckily would have only landed me back in bed. This wouldn’t do at all.
After doing a few exercises that were supposed to relieve muscle cramps, which an athlete relative taught me in my youth, I managed to get myself into a more or less decent walking condition. I still had to check on the garden, leg pain or not.
Ursa was already outside. Despite being scared of practically anything, she was always happy to go outside and play the role of an honorary guard dog. It was pretty adorable, especially when she would look really serious and then get freaked out by a passing car!
I knew I shouldn’t garden today, but several of the plants were wilting, which was understandable—this was turning out to be an especially hot summer, and even though the soil here was good, the sun was stronger still. Promising to myself I will only fix up the problem plants, I watered them as much as I could. Although there were those pesky weeds, already coming in! I got down to remove them before they deprived my precious plants of their much needed nutrients.
I was in the middle of pruning off the worst offenders when I heard Ursa get very animated and start to bark. Raising my head I saw the familiar red hair and smile of Celeste, who was coming over towards us.
“Oh, hello Celeste!” I greeted, sincerely happy to see her.
“Hi yourself!” she waved back. “I see your garden is coming in nicely. Not bad for a first-timer!”
“Thanks, it’s good to hear that.”
Before we could say anything more, Ursa began jumping around Celeste and for a moment I became worried that my dog will attack my friend. However Celeste just laughed excitedly and took out a flashy dog toy, inviting Ursa to play. My pooch happily barked and joined into a friendly tug-of-war with our visitor.
“Wow, she really likes you” I noted. “How did you know I have a dog? Since you brought a dog toy?”
Celeste laughed “Oh, I didn’t! I was going to the junkyard not far from here, to drop off some really unneeded things. And on the way back, I saw you working out here. This is actually my dog’s toy—you could say I have a way with the canines. But this girl is adorable! What’s her name?”
“Ursa, since she reminded me of a bear. She basically just came over to my place during the rain, and I decided it was meant to be, you know.” I recounted to her how I became a proud dog-owner.
“Oh, that’s so cute! She chose you! You know, animals totally chose their humans” she informed me totally serious,
“Really? Well, that’s nice to hear—she makes a good companion. Are you hungry? I have some salad that I think came out pretty ok” I invited her in. “Cooking for myself has truly been a challenge.”
“Oh yeah, tell me about it! When I first went to live on my own, I nearly burned my house down. That would have been pretty embarrassing, to die because of burned toast, right?” she exclaimed.
Getting up, I couldn’t help but groan. Apparently when I got on my knees again, the muscle pain came back. Celeste noticed and looked me over with a worried expression on her face.
“Are you alright? You aren’t ill are you? Maybe you need to see the doctor?” she sounded concerned.
“Oh, it’s just cramps from being on my knees for a long time.” I didn’t want her to think I was a wuss who couldn’t handle the outdoor labor “It’ll go away soon.”
“If you say so” she didn’t sound convinced.
Once inside I hurried to get us some food, while Celeste looked around. “Hey, your place is really nice. Did you pick out the designs?” she asked.
“Well, I think most of the building and wallpaper was already here. I just brought some furniture. The fireplace was included with the house” I admitted.
“I like it” she decided “It has a comfy feel to it.”
She took note of the bookshelf and the books lying around “So, I guess you really like to read? Makes sense that we met at the library then.”
“I’ve always liked a good book” I admitted “They just have so much information.”
“True. I’ve always liked a good story myself” she agreed.
“Oh well, my aunt in Starlight Shores is a published author, Marie Lin. Maybe you’ve read any of her stuff?” I inquired.
“Omg! I love her books, especially the horror ones!” Celeste exclaimed. “I guess your family is quite far from farming, isn’t it? You’re really out of your normal area here.”
“No kidding, everyone at home was shocked that I chose to move out here and do this. But, you know, it just felt like the right decision” I admitted.
“It’s worth taking the big step forward to see your dreams come to life” Celeste understood. “But forgive me if I’m overstepping my friendship bounds, but you’ve got to be more careful with yourself.”
“What do you mean?” I was confused.
“Simon, you’re barely walking today, and you’ve only been here for what, a week? Yes, I’ve noticed how sore you are. And go look in the mirror—you’re only a few notches away from strong sunburn. How long have you been in the sun without any sunscreen? I’m a proponent of the natural lifestyle myself, I am, but you’ve got to take measures to protect yourself when working outdoors. Or you will get some dire results with your health.” Celeste sounded seriously worried.
“I admit, I miscalculated how hot and physically exhausting being outside for so long can be. I assure you, I will take more care of myself from now on” I assured her.
She nodded “Good, I would be pretty sad if you ended up in the hospital from sunstroke.”
“Ok, mom!” I joked “I’ll be careful.”
“And maybe, if you feel better later on in the week, we can go check out the summer festival together. I hear they have a hot-dog eating contest and the winner takes a full plate home!” she offered.
“It’s a deal!” I agreed. “Maybe we can even take Ursa with us! I bet she’d love all the food smells.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’m glad we’re getting to be such good friends!” she told me before leaving.
I smiled to myself—even though I was embarrassed that a girl I liked caught me in such a bad condition, it was really nice to know that she cared enough to worry about me.
She said we were good friends. It wasn’t the same as knowing my crush on her was requited, but it was better than nothing.