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I twirl in the front yard, the warm April sun heating my freckled face. My best friend, Spring just took over from Winter, so the weather has been beautiful over the past week. Winter is being as grumpy as usual, in perfect contrast with my sunny attitude. Let me explain. I’m Summer. Yes, as in the real lemonade-on-the-beach summer. You see, I control the temperature for a fourth of the year. My best friends and roommates take the others. When it’s our turn, we decide what the day will look like and then sit back and enjoy it. Of course, we don’t really get a say in storms or anything – that’s Rain, Snow, Sleet, Sun, and the Cloud family’s job – but we can make it crazy cold (usually Winter’s choice) or insanely hot (what? Who doesn’t like some warm days?), not to mention a whole range of warm-but-not-hot or chilly-but-not-cold temperatures. We’re the newest in a long line of sets of seasons, though. After a few centuries we retire and live like humans. Then the next set of seasons pop into existence and take over.
Anyway, Spring comes up to me, huddled in a jacket. I stop spinning to look at her and raise an eyebrow.
“Dude, it’s sixty degrees outside. And you chose the temperature!” I say, teasing. She huffs at me.
“Winter asked if he could choose today. So no, I didn’t choose it. And anyway, you’re always twice as warm as anyone else.” This is true. I hate when Spring makes better points than me. Fall comes out of the house, carrying three mugs of hot chocolate and wearing a huge coat.
“Is anyone else cold?” she asks, setting the drinks down on the little table on the porch.
“Oh, COME ON,” I yell as Spring runs over gratefully. Winter mopes outside with earbuds in each ear, lured by the promise of hot cocoa. I sigh and join my friends on the porch.
“Hey Winter! Why did you choose today?” I ask him as I flop onto the bench swing next to Spring. He snorts at me.
“You know how it is,” he says with a shrug. “We go back and forth sometimes.”
“Well, yeah, in, like, February, but it’s way too late in the year now.”
“Whatever,” he says, popping an earbud back in. I roll my eyes and exchange a glance with Fall and Spring.
“Hey guys, can we talk inside?” I ask. They both nod knowingly. Spring runs her fingers through her waist-length brown hair – a nervous habit. Fall herds us both through the door, being her usual motherly self. Her copper hair is in a tight bun, and she wears a lacy apron over her brown dress. She’s good at playing the pioneer mom part. When we get into the kitchen, Spring bursts out.
“What is going ON?! Winter’s acting SO WEIRD! You’re right Summer, it’s too late in the year. So why did he ask?!” That’s Spring for ya. Painfully shy but incredibly talkative. Fall puts her hands on her hips.
“I think he’s trying to take over!” she says, lowering her voice into a dramatic whisper. We gasp. You see, there are these old legends about a Winter a few thousand years ago who tried to control the weather year-round. Nearly did it, too, before his set stepped in. But we’re new, only a few decades old. We’re not strong enough to take him down. And besides – Winter’s our best friend, basically our brother. Would we do it even if we could?
“But how do we stop him?” Spring whispers in a trembling voice, echoing my own thoughts.
“Oh!” I yelp as an idea strikes me. “We can talk to him! Convince him this is wrong!” Spring and Fall look at each other with a matching Here she goes again expression. I deflate, knowing they won’t listen.
“I’m not sure that’s gonna work, honey,” Fall says in her soft southern accent. “You know he won’t pay attention.” Spring nods in agreement.
“Pleeeeease?” I whine. “Let’s just try.”
“Oh, fine,” Fall says. “Let’s go.”
“Yay!” I cheer, racing out the door. Winter’s still sipping his cocoa and listening to music on the porch. He probably didn’t even notice we had left.
“Hey Winter!” I say.
“What. Do you want?” he responds, pausing the music. I take a deep breath and talk.
“Winter, we all know what you’re going to do. Don’t.”
He jolts, surprised.
“Wha-what? I mean, you all are crazy,” he stutters, his cool (heh heh) facade crumbling. Spring marches up to him, hands on hips.
“Come on. ‘Fess up,” she says, glaring at him.
“B-wha-you-I.” He falters under our harsh gazes. “Fine. I was trying to take over. I’m sorry!”
“But why?” I cry.
And at that moment, Winter starts to sob. I step back slightly, surprised at the act of emotion. Spring’s bright blue eyes widen. Fall goes over to him and wraps him in one of her famously comforting embraces.
“I’m so sorry,” he blubbers. “I thought – well, Winters are always cold and m-mean. But I don’t t-think I am, so maybe i-if I did something really really bad I wo-would be a real Winter.” He starts crying harder.
“Oh, Winter,” Spring says.
“You don’t have to be mean. Just be yourself!” I say. “That’s what I do. And not everyone takes me seriously, but that’s okay, because I’m happy with who I am.” Spring and Fall exchange a glance. Winter nods and takes a deep breath.
“Oh! And if you think about it, winter isn’t always cold and dark. There’s also when it snows and you can sled and throw snowballs, and then your cheeks turn all pink.” Spring puts in.
“And when you come inside afterwards and sit in front of the fire drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book,” Fall adds. I nod.
“See? That’s who you are,” I say. “That side of winter.” He sits up straighter. Spring nudges me.
“And I’m going to try to pay more attention to you now.”
“Me too,” Fall says. After a minute or two of awkward silence, she speaks again. “Now, who wants some more cocoa?” she asks.
“Me!” we all cry, and then race inside, smiles lighting our faces.
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