Submitted Date 05/19/2022

Spring, dressed in emerald green, came softly to Summer's great house. With her, she carried buckets of rain water; fresh, good smelling earth and starts of various kinds: the yellow crook neck squash, velvet tomato leaves, budding lettuce and corn. Melon and grape vines, she had looped like snakes around her arms.

Summer opened his doors and she was swallowed by his wide open barns; his warmth and his long embrace.

"You've been busy," he smiled.

She nodded, wiped a dirt covered hand over her face and fell into a deep slumber on the veranda.

Summer took up her crops. He used the fresh earth. He poured over the rain water and opened up all of his windows to the heat and the air and the brilliant sun.

After a time, there was a knock at the door. Softly it came, like a breeze tickling the chimes. At first Summer did not hear it. He continued his work of growing the crops, encouraging the trees to stretch their limbs and the fruits to blush and firm.

The knock came again, a bit louder and Summer moved through his house to answer. He paused to plump the melons and watch the apples thicken.

A third time, the knock and Summer opened the doors wide. Autumn stood there, the cool breeze lifted her hair and she asked for food.

Summer smiled warmly. He had begun to grow tired. "Come," he told her, inviting her in to eat; to take her pick of the corn grown tall, the yellow peaches hanging heavy on the trees or the pumpkins and gourds on their vines. "Your choice," he said and she began to feast.

It was not long before another knock came to the door. It was a thin, quick knock and Autumn's ears perked. She waited, hoping the visitor would turn away.

That was not to be for there was a rattle of the door handles and a draft came up at the windows and from under the door. Autumn hesitated but the knock grew urgent and the rattle grew stronger. Autumn could wait no longer. She moved through the house, closing windows, lowering the blinds. She found the sun sinking in the sky.

The knock came once more and when Autumn opened the door, she cried out in surprise. "Help!" she begged Winter. "I don't know what I've done." Her lips ran red. Her fingers brown and stained, dried with the remnants of Summer.

"Quiet," Winter hushed her, ushering in a chilled wind as he stepped over the threshold. Silence settled over the empty house.

"It's so cold," Autumn said, shivering in her satin dress.

Winter took up his shawl and covered her in its great folds. She cried from her shame. Her gray tears fell and fell and Winter soothed her. He comforted her as only Winter could.

Reaching into his deep pockets, he withdrew a sharp knife. Bit by bit, Autumn was devoured until only Winter remained in the great house and outside, the snow began to fall.

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