Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spring's Arrival [memories] (Friday Fiction)

This week I have the distinct pleasure of hosting Friday Fiction! So fish out a fun story of yours and join up with the linky gadget below. Don't forget to read and comment on the wonderful stories this week. 

Author's Ramblings: This is a bit of a runoff from a short piece I did some time ago, titled "Spring's Arrival" featuring the seasons personified as four unique individuals. If you haven't read it before, click here to see how this story starts and where Kevin--the narrator--begins to find himself slowly caught into this magical world. This week's story is a tale of two of the four arriving at the Season's End B&B and a short memory of young Spring, learning how to use her gifts to coax things out for springtime and not to resort to other methods. Do enjoy!

(c) Sara Harricharan : Green Willow and Sky in Spring

I don’t remember when the others showed up. I know we’d had Spring around for awhile and she was pretty cool even when she didn’t really seem to do much, but I kinda liked her and she was always nice.

Nicer than Mystica, at least.

My older sister kept a pretty obvious distance from Spring herself and the perpetual warmth that seemed to surround her. I couldn’t understand what she could possibly have against her. Mom was always careful around her, but she wasn’t like Mystica—she was nice. I think Spring liked her a little, because Mom would let her experiment in the kitchen. Mystica rarely set foot in the kitchen. I guess it was another thing they didn’t have in common.

Girls. I sure couldn’t understand them.

“Kevin, want some lunch?” Spring stuck her head through the back door, her hair less tangled today, now wrapped in series of loose strands meant to imitate a braid. She had a colorful circlet of flowers, her face was flushed and happy with the effort of her latest creation. “I made sandwiches with cream cheese and spinach, your Mother showed me how to-”

“Spinach, ew!” Mystica rolled her eyes as she edged past Spring to step outside onto the back porch. “He doesn’t like spinach and I don’t either. It’s like stewed brains dipped in-”

Something hot rushed to my head and I shot to my feet. Spring was biting her lip, the happy expression wavering. It wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know. “I am sorry. I did not know that—i-if you’d still like to try it then I shall leave it on the-”

“I’d love to try it!” I blurted out, surprising myself, Spring and even Mystica who tripped down the last step onto the back lawn. “The cream cheese probably makes it taste better, right?”  

“I do not know.” Spring shrugged, her smile returning to full bloom. “I have never had this cream cheese thing before, but it tastes wonderful by itself.” She steepled her fingers together. “I also made some strawberry lemonade, perhaps you would like to try that as well?”

“Strawberry lemonade? Sure.” I followed her to the kitchen where crustless sandwiches were arranged on an oval serving tray, with a thin layer of lovely, lime-green filling between them. To the left of the ceramic platter was a fluted glass mug filled to the brim with a cheery pink liquid, various fruit slices trapped beneath the thick layer of ice bobbling on the surface. It looked incredibly inviting. Spring retrieved two glasses from the cupboard and began to fill them. I tried to keep my face straight as I took the first bite of the sandwich.

It was wonderful.

Spring’s face lit up even brighter as she looked at my face. “Isn’t it wonderful?” She exclaimed. “I think it tastes wonderful, spinach and all.” She slid one glass across the counter towards me. “Try it with this.”

“Tastes gouf.” I mumbled, stuffing my mouth. It didn’t taste like spinach at all. Grabbing the glass, I took a swig of the pink stuff. It was heavenly. I swallowed another half-sandwich, taking another generous gulp of the strawberry lemonade. “Really gud.”

Spring merely smiled as she went about the business of clearing up the kitchen. I was happy to sit there and watch her work, because she was fast, efficient and very pretty to look at. Her hair streamed out in shiny waves as she swirled from the counter to the sink. In the time she’d been with us, she’d learned quickly of new things like appliances and computers, though she viewed the latter as troublesome, I didn’t think much of it at all.

Instead, our little patch of the world seemed to a little warmer for all of her presence, even though the seasons were about to change. There were still vegetables coming in from the garden, under Spring’s expert care and flowers to grace the table every day.

My dad found more time to spend with us as a family when he wasn’t out checking fences, balancing checkbooks and doing other ranch-ly things. My mom thought Spring was a blessing in disguise because she didn’t shirk at the thought of hard labor and worked fairly well at nearly everything she put her hands to. If Spring wasn’t outdoors, then she was in the kitchen.

Her cheerfulness was infectious to the point that I started to enjoy our project of restoring the bed and breakfast. Spring just had a way of making it seem like an adventure, rather than an expensive chore that continued endlessly. I waited while she stacked the newly washed dishes in the plastic-coated dishrack.  

“Are we painting today?” I took in her paint-covered smock and a borrowed pair of Mom’s old sneakers. Spring liked to be barefoot, but Mom had convinced her that walking about barefoot during construction wasn’t a very good idea. Spring had reluctantly accepted the sneakers as a temporary thing.

“Painting?” She paused in mid-rinse. “I don’t think so.” She said, slowly. “It should be all done. Yes, I think it’s all done.”

“But we just started yesterday.” I wolfed down the last sandwich and carried the plate over to her by the sink. “There was the whole floor left to paint. Here.”

She merely turned with the sunny smile that always said more than her mouth would have. “You worry too much, Kevin. It’s done. I finished it, remember?” She took the plate from my hand and began to scrub it with the soapy sponge.

I didn’t remember, but I couldn’t find the heart to contradict her either. If she said it was finished, then the possibility remained that it was indeed finished.

“Go see for yourself.” She nudged me with an elbow. “I can wash dishes by myself, if you don’t believe me.”

I didn’t believe her, but I couldn’t say that aloud. I ducked my head and darted for the stairs. On the second floor, the scent of fresh paint greeted me and I checked in the first few rooms where we’d started yesterday.

They were complete.

And so were the rest.

That had been far more than just a week’s worth of work. At this rate, the construction would end early—as per Spring’s hopes.

I couldn’t believe it. I stood in the middle of one empty room, staring as I turned in a slow circle at the immaculately painted room, with only the hint of fresh paint smell to show that it had recently been worked upon. Very, very recently.

The sound of new voices floated through the opened window and I hurried over to see. A rush of cooler wind made me wince, but I stuck my head out anyway and squinted down.

It was two men, both in coats, and one laughing and talking, the other one merely nodding. I stared at them, trying to place them and not doing a very good job. One had snowy white hair and a long black coat, like something a rich person would wear, while the other had a tanned, leather jacket that hung open around his skinny shoulders, setting off his two-toned hair. It seemed like an odd father-son duo, but who was I to judge?

They were speaking between themselves and neither of them had made an effort to ring the doorbell. I wondered why when the white-haired fellow suddenly looked up, with the brightest pair of blue eyes I’d ever seen. His face was scowling and I was suddenly struck by the fact that having such a fierce scowl sent in my direction didn’t leave a good feeling at all. It made my stomach drop the way it usually did when my Dad was about to yell at me for something I really shouldn't have done.
“Oi, you up there, where are your manners, kid? Are you going to keep staring or will you come open the door?” His accent was off-key and I couldn't place it outright.

The young man next to him looked up as well and flashed a smile that seemed rather familiar. “Hello, your family is expecting us.” He gave a slight wave. “Is Spring here already?”

Spring? They know Spring? I ducked back inside the window trying to process what I’d seen with what I knew.

I didn’t know anything at all.

I scrambled down from the room and flew down the stairs. I nearly crashed into Spring who dodged backwards with a bucket of soapy water.

“Kevin!” There was a slight tone of disapproval, but it was said with a smile as she twirled in a quick circle to keep the water from sloshing out of the bucket without losing her balance. It was a fun, yet strange sight, but then again, Spring was always whirling and dancing about somewhere. “Please be more careful.”

“Sorry, sorry.” I skidded to a stop, hesitating between helping her carry the bucket upstairs and the folks I knew were on the other side of the door. “um, hey, have you seen Mom anywhere?”

Spring was already halfway up the stairs. “Your mother?” She paused. “I think she was in the garage downstairs, something about a yard sale?” Her forehead puckered in puzzlement. “I did not think that one could sell a yard without their home involved, but-”

“Ask me later!” I turned towards the kitchen and the garage door. “Mom!”

“Kevin!” Spring called after me, now at the top of the stairs. “Would you please open the front door?”

“Huh?”

She was already starting down the second-floor hallway and her voice was faint. “Let in the one with the pretty hair and tell the grumpy old man to stay outside until he finds his manners.”

“You know them?”

There was no answer.

Another gust of cold wind swept through the house, enough to raise an army of goosebumps along my arm. I shuffled towards the front door. If Spring knew them, then there was probably nothing wrong with letting them in. Then again, the one with the two-toned hair had mentioned we were expecting them. I wondered which family meeting I’d missed with that bit of information.

My hand hesitated on the doorknob and when I finally turned it, my fingers nearly froze. It was that cold. I ended up wrapping the end of my sleeve around the knob to turn it. That was odd.

With the door open, I could now see the newcomers clearly.

The old man really wasn’t old at all, but he did seem to be very grumpy. His hair was a pure, snow white and his eyes were a piercing dark blue. His skin was very white, very pale and very smooth. His scowl hadn’t changed. He wore a cream-colored turtle-necked sweater under a black, full length wool coat and equally dark jeans. His boots were scuffed and dark shade of brown, the same as his battered knapsack that accompanied him.

“Looking at something, kid?” He grunted, pushing past without a single nod of acknowledgement.

“Hey!” I turned after him, only to feel a new hand on my shoulder.

“Please don’t worry about Winter, he’s having a bit of a hard time adjusting.” The young man who spoke had a voice and smile vaguely reminiscent of Spring. His hair was two-toned, the shade of auburn with brown and golden tips and streaks throughout. “Hello, you  must be-”

“Kevin.” Spring’s voice floated down the hallway. “Do let the man in. It’s freezing out there or rather, should I say it’s frozen in here?”

It was the first hint of sarcasm I’d ever heard from her.

That’s when Mom’s conversation clicked, the one I shouldn’t have overheard last week in the laundry room.

Spring. Winter. The charming fellow in front of me could only be Autumn.

Oh great. Now there were three of the four seasons rooming inside our under-construction bed and breakfast. A shiver nipped through the air and I tried to ignore it. This was certainly going to be a strange year to remember.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Spring smiled to herself, watching the disgruntled Winter putter about and Autumn's care attention and answers to the questions of their young host. She knew he'd get on well with Kevin, it was just a matter of convincing her favorite brother not to freeze the poor thing solid.

A smile leapt to her face and she found herself remembering an old memory from years before. They had been closer then and the memory had been...interesting.

“You kicked it?” Her father fairly shrieked. “Of all the things on our Good Lord’s green earth, child, whatever possessed you to do that?” He tugged handfuls of his great white hair as his green eyes grew wild with panic. "You're sure they didn't follow you?"


Spring merely shrugged, turning her hands, palm up to the sky. “They were sleeping and all quiet and it’s supposed to be my time. They won't bite.” 

"Sting." He corrected, mildly. 

"Fine. Sting. They won't. I told 'em not to." She shifted her chubby freckled hands to rest on her hips. “And I was being nice! I wasn’t gonna freeze ‘em like Winter! He would've killed them!" She exclaimed. "I just wanted them to wake up and make the flowers all pretty and everything.”


“I wasn’t gonna freeze ‘em, Spree.” Winter sauntered over, his hands shoved into the pockets of his brown fur vest. He patted her curly head, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “I don't go around killing things, I just put them to sleep for a bit. Your job is to wake them up and you’ve got air for brains, flowerhead. Nobody kicks a beehive and lives to tell it.” His silvery brows knitted together. “You told them you were Spring, didn’t you?”


The guilty child immediately looked away.


"You're not supposed to tell them that!" He exclaimed, exasperated. "Really! Does everything I say go in one ear and right out the other like-"


"If she doesn't want to listen, she isn't going to." Summer chuckled. "Just let her alone for now. Perhaps one of them might be daring enough to sting her."


"After a seasonal declaration?" Winter rolled his eyes. "Hardly." He muttered and stomped off. “A beehive.” He muttered. “Of all the things on…”

(c) Sara Harricharan

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