Autumn hefted the strap of her leather satchel over her and quietly slipped out of her house, drawing in a deep breath. It was her favorite time of year, and not just because her name had the same meaning. The branches were filled with red and orange leaves, just barely hanging onto the bark, the air cold and fresh. Autumn stopped for a second and filled her lungs, slowly spinning around to just… be. When she re-oped her eyes from momentarily closing them, she smiled and began running towards the woods.
Autumn carefully climbed the wooden ladder that led to her tree house, the rungs spotted with moss. When she reached the top she knelt down and carefully pried a loose board up from the floor. It came loose, revealing a hidden compartment, stocked with rolls of parchment, bottles of ink, and quills. She selected a scroll, a jar of midnight blue ink, and one of her more flourish-y quills. Then she sat down, pressed her back to the wall, and began to write.
Autumn’s script was a simple but elegant cursive, turned into a beautiful calligraphy by the quill. She wrote a poem, describing the air, the leaves, the moss, the festivities, of fall. She wrote in a font that she believed showed the intricacy of the parts of the season working together. When she wrote the last letter, signing it off with a flourish, the world began to spin.
Her treehouse spiraled, disappearing around her. Soon she was falling, the world rushing around her. She landed in a heap of fallen leaves, her limbs crumbling at odd angles. She lay there for a moment, taking in what had just happened.
Okay. I just disappeared from my treehouse and fell into this pile after falling. This must have some logical reasoning… I just have to figure it out.
Autumn carefully pushed herself up into a sitting position, then heaved herself to her feet. She was no longer in the woods that her treehouse belonged to; she stood in a large clearing with completely bare trees surrounding it, and a crumbling stone cottage pushed up against their trunks. There was something so mysterious about it, so beautiful but plain. She slowly stepped in a circle, seeing if there was anything else. There wasn’t.
Suddenly, there was a thud, the sound of crushing snow. Autumn whirled around to see what had happened.
There, elegantly, stood a beautiful, statuesque girl with shimmering silvery blond ringlets, the curls looking like they had had frost woven into them. She wore a knee-length glittering white dress and a cropped, furry white coat. Her boots rose halfway up her calves and were made of a polished leather. As Autumn stared, she could see the girl doing the same at her.
“What?” they both asked at the same time.
The girl squinted at her. “What do you mean? You’re the one dressed all weird and pretty!”
Autumn looked down at her clothes and gasped. They had transformed into a dress the same length as the girls, except it was red, orange, and yellow, with traces of gold that looked like the veins in leaves. She tugged at her straight, naturally orange hair, seeing that there were tiny fall leaves scattered through the strands. Her shoes were similar to the girls, except shorter and more strappy. She looked the very way she had always imagined fall. She looked up at the girl.
“What’s your name?” she whispered.
“Flake,” the girl whispered back. “Yours?”
“Autumn,” Autumn told her. “Do you know where we are?”
Flake shook her head. “Not at all. I was singing outside, and suddenly I arrived… here. Wherever this place is.”
Autumn nodded, sighing. “Yeah. That’s what I assumed- the not knowing where we are-”
Autumn was cut off by a shrieking sound. She looked up to see a blur of pink and green falling speeding toward the ground. She slowed down just a bit right before she hit, a large pile of light pink petals appearing beneath her. She crashed into the flower bits, looking even clumsier than Autumn had felt. The new girl slowly picked herself up and looked wide-eyed at the scenery around her. Her hair fell in between her shoulders and her chin, green vines entangling their budding blossoms through the dense curls. Her dress was delicate and fitting, the soft pinks, greens, and yellows going perfectly with her creamy dark skin. Her deep brown eyes startled when she saw Flake and Autumn watching her.
“Who are you?” she asked, her voice quivering. “Where am I?”
“I’m Flake and this is Autumn,” Flake explained. “We’re somewhere, but we don’t know where exactly.”
The girl nodded. “Okay then. I’m glad you guys aren’t just trying to kidnap me or something.” She smiled. “I’m Mae.”
Surprised by Mae’s change from scared to sweet, Autumn smiled back.
Suddenly a fourth figure fell from the sky, materializing mid-air. She landed on her feet, then fell backwards onto her butt with an “Oof.”
“Um… hi?” she asked, standing up and smoothing her pale yellow dress. At the bottom, the fabric suddenly materialized into seawater that then evaporated after reaching her knees. Her stomach length hair was chocolate brown and wavy, the ends doing the same thing as her dress. Delicate vines twisted their way through the shiny strands, making the outfit pull together perfectly.
“Hi!” said Mae happily. “I’m Mae! Before you ask, none of us know where we are or why we're here. What’s your name?”
“I’m Sunshine,” she said, twirling her hair nervously. “Who are the rest of you?” She gestured to Autumn and Flake.
“I’m Autumn,” Autumn said.
“I’m Flake,” Flake introduced. “Um… I feel like we should see why we’ve happened upon this desolate and mysterious place. What are your impressions?”
Autumn stared at her. That was some fancy language.
“I’m not sure,” Mae jumped in. “Should we look at the cottage? Even if it’s decaying right now?”
Sunshine nodded. “We should be careful, though. And stone can’t decay! It erodes.”
Mae nodded confidently. “Right. I knew that. Now… onward!”
Mae began to march towards the wreckage, and Autumn followed. She felt like the ruins would have something to clue them in on why they were there.
As they neared what would have been the front stoop, Autumn saw something glisten between the stones. She rushed over and snatched up a palm-sized bottle with a tightly coiled scroll, much like the parchment she used.
“Guys,” she called, “I found something!”
“REALLY!” Mae squealed. She skipped over and came to a halt a foot away, peering at the bottle. Flake was the next to arrive, then Sunshine.
“Should I open it?” Autumn asked, knowing she would probably open it even if they said no. But they didn’t.
“Yes!” Sunshine said giddily. She looked excited as a childish grin overwhelmed her face.
When Flake and Mae had nodded their agreement, Autumn uncorked the bottle and carefully dumped the contents into her palm. The scroll had a thin gold band holding it together; it was the one that had caught her eye. She slid the band off and carefully unrolled the parchment. It was filled with a twisty script, the words written elegantly:
Dear Autumn, Flake, Mae, and Sunshine-
You all are the Season Sisters. Autumn, you are Fall. Flake, you are Winter. Mae, you are Spring. And Sunshine, you are Summer. You have all shown that you are ready to accept your role through the way that you express yourself. This could be painting, singing, writing, or even collaging. Nevertheless, you four are ready. As you look around the clearing you have been sent to, you will see that the trees are bare, the house is bare, and everything is cold and bleak. You girls must change that. Use your magic- you have it in you. Together, make a monument of the four seasons coming together. Make it elegant and beautiful, truthful and strong. Channel your personality while making your touches. We look forward to seeing what you do.
The Mother Nature Council
Autumn sucked in a breath and looked up at the girls around her- the rest of the Season Sisters.
“Should we do it?” Autumn asked. She was met with silence.
Sunshine was the first to speak.
“I think it’s the only way to get home,” she said. “Plus, it would be cool to see what happens.”
“I happen to agree,” Flake told them all. “I believe that we will only be transported home if we fulfill the duties that they have given us. Whoever they are.”
“I guess I think that too,” Mae agreed.
Autumn nodded. “We should do that, then. Who wants to go first?”
Taking a shaky breath, Sunshine stepped forward. She swept her hair, watery tips and all, into two floppy, even space buns, then closed her eyes and stood there. She began to hum a slow melody, her skin slowly developing a warm glow. She stood like that for several moments before Autumn finally saw something change.
At first, it was just a single monarch. But then more and more joined the one, and soon, dozens of butterflies were fluttering around the clearing. Next came a small babbling brook, full of crystal clear water, with small minnows swimming through the streams. When the last pebble hit the bottom, Sunshine’s eyes opened.
“That was incredible,” Mae breathed. “How did you do that?”
“I thought of all the things that I think make up summer and focused on them. And when I finished, stuff had happened. So... yeah. Who’s following my fabulous lead?”
Autumn took a deep breath and said, “I can.”
She closed her eyes and began to picture what made Fall so perfect to her. She pictured the leaves of the changing trees, the chai, and the apples. Then she entangled them into a poem, and pushed the words out of her mind. When her eyes fluttered open, the trees around her looked completely different. The trees were elegantly staged, their branches stretching out and dangling over the rough stones of the cottage. Their twigs were covered in red, orange, and yellow leaves, just barely clinging on. The air was filled with the soft scent of tea, and a large apple tree had grown in the corner, the apples perfectly red and palm-sized. It was beautiful, looking exactly as Autumn always imagined fall.
“Wow,” she breathed. She spun around to admire her handiwork.
“That’s incredible Autumn,” Flake told her. “Shall I go next?”
“Sure!” Sunshine said happily.
Flake nodded and closed her eyes. She began twirling her hands and wrists, small bits of frost coming out of the twists. They flew towards the trees and coated the leaf tips with a thick layer of shimmering frost. Small flurries of snow and wind chased each other through the chai-y air.
Flake opened her eyes and gave herself a small, proud smile.
“That turned out rather well,” she said happily.
“It did,” Autumn agreed. Then she turned to Mae. “It’s your turn,” she said.
Mae nodded and closed her eyes. She began to make small movements with her hands, like she was conducting an orchestra, and slowly, buds began to sprout from the ground, tulips and daffodils, lilies and lavender. Droplets of shimmering water filled the air, making a delicate, faint rainbow cascade through the breaking down stones of the cottage. It was the perfect, beautiful final touch, and Autumn felt a large smile stretch across her lips as she looked at the others. They were all smiling too.
“It’s beautiful,” Mae squealed. She beamed and pranced around a little. Sunshine just stood there with her face to the sky, taking in the warmth. Flake was watching the flurries of snow race around the clearing, murmuring things to herself under her breath. Autumn stood, watching as the seasons mingled and danced together, smiling. It was going to make the perfect poem.
“Should we find a way to contact each other?” she asked, realizing she may never see Flake, Sunshine, and Mae again.
Sunshine looked back and shrugged. “Sure.”
“That sounds awesome!” Mae announced happily.
“Let’s,” agreed Flake.
Autumn smiled and prepared to recite her address, but her mouth never let any words out. Another glint of gold had caught her eye at the stoop of the rubble. She made her way over, picked up the bottle, and tugged out the scroll.
Dear the Season Sisters-
Congratulations on completing your first task. But do not fret- there will be more to come. Expect to be transported back here within the next two weeks. We cannot tell you when, though. That will be up to when issues arise. Be ready, be open.
The Mother Nature Council
“I guess we won’t need to be sharing addresses,” Autumn said shakily. She held out the letter to show everyone. “It appears we’ll be seeing each other soon enough.”
“Alright,” sighed Mae. She looked disappointed. “Well, I loved meeting you all! I’ll see you soon, I guess.”
Autumn nodded and smiled at her new friends. They were all quite different, but it seemed like they would be able to get along and work together rather well. As Autumn looked around one last time, the clearing began to spin. Autumn shut her eyes and when they peeled back open, she was in her treehouse. And there were three things she needed at that moment: ink, a quill, and a piece of parchment.