Invierno

It's the time of the year again in December, but the Winter Solstice is not happy about her job to create the coldest weather of the seasons. ©2016. Cover by Magic Cover Shop at Figment

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1. Invierno

Every two or three months, it was time for the Four Seasons to take charge of the atmosphere on Earth. They had to make sure that all the weathers and climates were in place. No humans knew of this, but the Seasons didn’t mind or really think about this. They were fine to do their job on their own without anyone acknowledging them, especially since some Seasons didn’t get along very well (we’ll get more into that later).

Of course, their perception on their job had a lot to do with the condition of the season. Winter and Summer had a significant portion of work to do, as they were in charge of the solstices. In contrast, though Autumn and Spring’s delicate balance of an in-between stage of weather—not too hot, not too cold—was something that was hard to manage. So all of their work was considered highly important and looked upon with such care.

While all of the seasons had their own personalities, the biggest contrast was, of course, between Summer and Winter. On Summer’s end,  he was the most exuberant Season of them all. He was very outgoing and comfortable in the center of attention, though he was never unfriendly He could, however, be flamboyant, and was known to show off on more than one occasion. But Summer was such a lively being that it was hard not to be charmed by his charismatic manner. Most of the Seasons were on good terms with him and rather enjoyed his company.

And on the other end, there was Winter, who couldn’t be less like Summer. Instead of friendly and inviting, she was cold and aloof. Winter didn't partake in socializing unless she had to, and even then she was bitter. She would have been considered irritable, even heartless, to others, and even the other Seasons (who had spent a lifetime with her, as they were all immortal) were put off by her attitude at times. 

But no one understands me, Winter thought as she arose that morning. No one knew how she was truly feeling, which was overwhelmed. Having to change the weather, along with a solstice, was a lot of work for one. It was a heavy load to carry, and she wanted to make sure everything went right—which was another load to carry.

But this wasn’t the only reason. Winter knew the difference between what she brought to the table and what the other Seasons did. Spring bore life from her rain and showers, brightening the Earth with just her presence. Summer continued to flourish the beautiful trees and flowers that Spring created and warmed the temperature for many to enjoy. Autumn was cooler, but not too cold, and he changed the colors of the leaves to such vibrant yellows and browns and reds that one could still see the beauty in the Season.

And then Winter came.

The temperature dropped. Some places it snowed, so much to the point where it was hazardous for humans to travel. Illness seemed to love her for some reason, for one could hear the sound of infants and children and adults and the elderly sneezing and coughing and general aches and pains from the ailments that soared around Winter. Everything beauty that spring created, everything beautiful that Summer and Autumn kept from Spring, was gone. Winter killed the trees and the flowers and all the nature life that had once existed on the Earth. She killed it with her coldness, her coldhearted, uncaring coldness, bringing death everywhere she went. Animals fled from her, searching desperately for sanctuaries in hibernation. 

Some people liked Winter, especially those who were not fond of Summer’s vibrant and flamboyant energy. In fact, most people cherished Winter for bringing about the largest celebrated holiday of the year, Christmas. But Winter knew that most people did not feel anything for her. The main reason they liked her was for the holidays, not the weather she brought. And the few that did enjoy her weather presence could not deny that wherever she went, death followed from behind.

“Hello? Winter?” The goddess was pulled from her thoughts by the sudden (and disruptive) knock on the door. By the sound of the voice, it was probably Spring—she had a timid sort of demeanor at times, one that annoyed Winter more than she thought it should. But she’s just so….fragile at times, Winter thought. Spring was the most sensitive, so she probably was hurt by Winter’s attitude the most. In spite of her reputation, she did care about other people’s feelings and was always upset when she hurt Spring.

But what can I do? Winter couldn’t help it that she was so cold; that was who she was. The sooner Spring accepted that, the better things would be for everyone. 

“Winter?” Spring called again. “It’s about to turn midnight, and it’s late in December. Um…the others said that you need to get up now and…”

“I know what day it is, Spring,” Winter snapped. She gave her a cold look. “Do you expect so little from me that you think you’d have to remind me of my own job?”

“Oh, no, no!” Spring said quickly. Winter could practically see her shaking her head from the other side, as she was probably doing. “I didn’t mean—I mean, I wasn’t trying to imply—it’s just, well, the others were getting impatient and were wondering when you were going to come—”

“I know!” Winter rarely shouted, but the buildup of emotions suddenly exploded from her. She could feel the ground shaking with her anger, the icicles forming on her fingernails, a trail of snow flying by her feet. There was a moment of silence, and she finally turned around to look at Spring. Winter had seen Spring scared before, but she had never seen her so terrified. Winter could tell from the shaking of her hands, the widening of her eyes, exactly what Spring was feeling. She’s afraid of me. Just like everyone else. 

After a moment, Spring took several breaths to calm herself down. “I—I’m sorry,” she stammered. “I wasn’t trying to be rude—”

“You shouldn’t be nice to me.” Winter felt the words leave her mouth without permission.

Silence. Spring was staring at Winter with a different look this time, as if she couldn’t quite understand what Winter was saying. 

And then, an unexpected response came from Spring. “Why not?”

“Why not?” Winter shook her head. “You know who I am, Spring. I’m the one who’s going to kill everyone you created, everything Summer and Autumn tried to maintain. But I have to do it. There’s nothing I can do about.”

“Winter—”

“You should stay away from me,” Winter said. “I’m no good. You know that.” She gave Spring a look, expecting her to go. But Spring stayed there like an obedient child, waiting for Winter to admit that she was wrong and correct herself. But that wasn’t going to happen. Winter had accepted who she was, in spite of everything. It was time for Spring to do the same. 

After finally realizing that Winter had meant what she’d said, Spring reluctantly turned away. Winter sighed, letting out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding in. A part of her had regretted what she’d said. A part of wished she had apologized for her behavior, explaining to Spring why she felt so bad. Make her realize that she didn’t ask for this life and was only given it without her choosing.

But Winter knew that would do nothing. It was a hard truth, but the truth nonetheless, and that was better than lying to herself like she wanted to. In the end, she’d still be Winter. Nothing would change that.

With that thought in mind, Winter’s guilt disappeared, and she headed outside to do her work. 

 

***

 

Winter stepped outside the door. It was very dark outside, nearly pitch-black. Since Autumn was still maintaining the weather, she could feel the mix of warmth and coolness in the air.  Autumn and Spring always had to meticulous maintain a balance of coldness and heat around their times of the year. That made their jobs harder than Winter and Summer’s, but they never complained, and they were always good at their work. Winter would never admit it aloud, but she liked the way it felt outside that moment. 

“Nice night, isn’t it?”

Winter sighed, not needing to turn around to see who it was. She could tell from the obnoxious, loud voice that it was obviously Summer. Winter could never understand how someone could be so flamboyant all the time. Or not being able to understand why someone like Winter was never happy. He was stuck in his own world of heat and warmth, never stopping to understand how the other Seasons felt. And they say I’m rude, Winter thought bitterly. He’s so selfish. 

“Are you just ignoring me again?” Summer continued. “Because I’m standing right here, It’s kind of hard to ignore me, you know.”

Winter finally turned on him. “What are you doing here, Summer?” she retorted. Unlike with Spring, she felt free letting irritation slip into her tone. “I have a lot of work to do, in case you forgot what time it is.”

“Whoa.” Summer put his hands up defensively. “I haven’t even done anything, okay? I was just commenting on what a nice night it was.”

“Yeah, I can see that.” Some people just didn’t take a hint. “And I need to do my job, as you had Spring rudely tell me in the middle of the night, so I’m really not in the mood to talk.”

“Just like always.” Summer scoffed. “Do you ever stop complaining?”

“Do you ever stop talking?”

Summer snorted. “Ah, there comes the sarcasm,” he remarked. He still hadn’t left. “But honestly, I know you’re busy and stuff, but take a moment to look around. Feel the warmth of Autumn, the nice breeze that flows by, the fresh air…”He suddenly snapped his fingers. “Too bad it’ll be gone when you change the weather.”

Winter felt something fall inside of her. She already knew how destructive she was, and yet here was Summer reminding her of that, as if she needed reminding. He knew how she felt about her job, her very essence, and yet he continued to hurt her, making comments on how she was the “death bringer” of all the seasons, how she killed everything in her path. 

Winter wished she had gotten angry at him instead, made some snarky comment about his own weather’s shortcomings, but in the end she knew he was right. There was nothing else to say. 

“Leave her alone, Summer. You know she’s not in the mood.”

Winter turned around to see Autumn step through the door, his arms crossed casually. Next to Spring, Autumn annoyed Winter the least.  While they were not particularly friends (as Winter was not really friends with any of the seasons), Winter could appreciate Autumn’s humidly and ability to keep his personal comments to himself, something that Summer severely lacked. As much as Winter wanted to be alone right now, she was glad that Autumn was there, for she didn’t want to be left alone in Summer’s presence and have to bear his intolerable nature. 

“Winter finally decided to show her face, as you can see,” Summer remarked, turning to Autumn. “Took Spring awhile to talk her into it, though. She’s so stubborn.”

“You know she’s standing right next to you, right?” Autumn raised one eyebrow at him.

Summer shrugged. “Who cares?”

“Don’t aggravate her,” Autumn said before Winger could respond. There was an unusual edge to his voice. “Winter has a job to do, and you know she needs to be focused. Besides, you know she doesn’t like you,” he added before turning back inside.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Summer waved a hand dismissively. “I’ll leave her to be miserable.” He threw her a fake smile before following Winter inside. 

Winter waited until they had left and sighed. She would’ve blamed Summer for how she was feeling, but she knew it wasn’t his fault. Everything he had said about her was true. But does he really need to remind me of it? she thought irritably. 

Winter looked outside and shook her head. Enough of Summer. She had work to do. Winter moved her hands around in the air. She could feel the atmosphere around her changing, freezing. The cool air was gradually shifting, becoming colder and colder. She sighed, feeling some of her strength leaving her. It had been a while since she had used her powers, since Winter was only once a year. It was something she expected, but it always threw her off.

Winter kept pushing her powers, trying to be shift yet careful. The solstices were a delicate thing. The season had to change, but it couldn’t be rapid. It had to come right on time; too early or too late would throw off the hemisphere, and that would have cataursophic consequences. It had never happened before, and no one knew exactly what would happen, but they all knew it would be dangerous. Like I need any more pressure on my job, Winter thought bitterly before concentrating back on her work.

After several hours, Winter could tell that she was about done. She waited until she could felt the strike of midnight, and then stopped. She feel back, exhausted, staring into the distant, starry sky. Winter had finally arrived.

 

 

 

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