Autumn Waits by Ken MacGregor [fantasy]
Autumn is tired. Her long hair, which had been green, then red and yellow and finally brown has begun to fall out. Her dress is tattered and her skin dry. She wants nothing more than to sleep. But, it is not yet time. So, she waits.
She thinks back over the last few months: the crisp, clear air; the bright skies; the apple cider; the children dressing up as pirates and monsters and eating too much candy. A sad smile plays across her lips.
Finally, Autumn sees Jack on the horizon. He’s walking toward her, but taking his time. At this distance, he doesn’t really seem to be getting any closer. She wishes he would hurry. She can barely keep her eyes open.
Jack struts, cocksure, his footsteps crunching the stiff grass. The prints Jack leaves behind are crushed brown grass tinged with white. He seems to take forever to cross the field to where Autumn sits. Every year, Jack comes to her, and every year, Autumn is ready to go; her very bones ache with the need for rest.
Finally, he is there. Jack looks into Autumn’s eyes. She smiles at him. Seeing him here, now gives her comfort. This is as it should be.
“Hello, Mr. Frost,” she says.
“My beautiful Autumn.”
“Hard to believe,” Autumn says, “it’s already been a year.”
“I know, love,” Jack smiles at her. “I know.”
Jack embraces Autumn and holds her close. He brushes a strand of hair from her brow and it falls to the ground. She can feel his cold touch long after it is gone. With a tenderness Autumn finds surprising every time, Jack kisses her. Autumn’s life bleeds away with her warmth. Her awareness fades, and Autumn’s last thought is a happy one. Finally, she can rest.
Jack lays her lifeless body on the ground. He always wishes he had more time with Autumn; he misses her already, but there is much to do. Besides, he will see her next year. She’s always waiting for him. And, in a few months’ time, he will see April. Bright, effusive April with her golden hair and sunshine smile. He’s always anxious to see her by the end. By then, he too will be tired, and ready to sleep.
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