Winter and Summer were born from the same bang, raised by the same Sun, abandoned by the same Moon, and moved onto the same Earth at about the same time. There was a Spring and an Autumn once, too, but as the temperature rose like the tensions between the first two, Spring and Autumn shrunk to the background.
At about the time Winter discovered how to employ ice, Summer decided that drastic action ought to be taken.
“She’s killing everybody.” In the throngs of January when ice was at its thickest, Summer rounded up the other seasons for an impromptu intervention. “All the people and all the plants. The entire Eastern hemisphere is starving!”
“Doesn’t this happen every year?” Autumn questioned.
“It’s much worse this time around, now that she’s gotten ice. But it’s been getting worse every year, worse and worse and we can’t do anything about it.” Summer crossed her golden arms. “This is unacceptable.”
Spring shrunk in the corner, saying nothing.
“Why don’t we just ask her to stop?” Autumn added.
Summer shook her head. “She has nice. She’s too temperamental to listen.”
After Winter danced around, tossing ice across the globe, Summer crept slowly behind, warming the world with the soft touch of her hands. People and plants rejoiced alike, basking in the newfound light, the warm temperatures, and the flowering sprouts.
They kept on this way for a few weeks, until Winter, clever and quickly bored, taught herself to harness the wind.
The frozen blasts nearly crushed the flowering sprouts, but Summer wrapped them in her glowing grasp and protected them from the worst of Winter’s blasts.
“You really could just tell her to stop,” Autumn suggested. “That would save all of us some time.”
“If you’re so confident, do it yourself,” Summer commented, distracted with her baby plants.
Autumn joined Spring in the corner.
Then Winter coined a new term: precipitation. She pelleted the Earth with hail crystals like the organisms were her own personal targets and wrapped the whole thing in an impenetrable blanket of sleet.
Summer sighed. Winter was being irrational and disgusting. Did she not understand what the seasons were meant to do? The job of a season was to cycle out so that specific crops could grow and specific species could flourish, in rotation, allowing for the perfect balance of an ecosystem—why was she sucking all the life out of them? Freezing and icing was not the answer, Summer figured, and as the one closest to the Sun, Summer figured it was her job to undo Winter’s errors.
Summer has just finished warming up a city in Mexico, brightening it up for Christmas, when Winter rudely barged in and coated the whole thing in a jarring mess of snow.
“Did you have to?” Summer gasped. “You and your ugly snow?”
“A blizzard,” Winter corrected, as if that made the situation any better. “A full blizzard, aren’t you pleased?”
Summer didn’t answer. Could Winter not see that the corn was squished, the roofs leaking, and the people unprepared for such a tragedy? This was unreasonable. Summer was not granted enough time for this.
Summer held an emergency meeting of the seasons—excluding Winter, of course; Summer couldn’t bear to see the bare coldness of her empty eyes—and paced in front of them, explaining why they had to kick Winter out.
“You can’t get rid of a season,” Autumn stated, rubbing her sharp, analytic fingers through her crackling maroon hair. “That’s not how it works.”
“We’ll decrease her power,” Summer compromised.
“Like you’ve done with me?” It was the first phrase Spring has spoken for a long while, making a permanent home for herself in the corner, ringed with flowers.
Summer nodded slowly. “Yes.” Then she corrected herself. “But I have full intentions of giving your power back. Winter’s will be taken away forever.”
Autumn scrunched over. “And who gave you this authority?”
Summer sighed again. What did give her this power? Probably her supreme competence, and the fact that she had been the only one helping the people so far. But she had on reason that trumped the first two. “I’m closest to the Sun.”
Autumn and Spring didn’t respond, because they knew, just as Summer did, that the Sun was the center of their world and the unquestioned decision-maker. If the Sun favored Summer, then the seasons ought to as well.
Summer commanded her two subordinates like a general of troops. Spring had a surprising knowledge of nature’s balance and padded the Earth with a blanket of clouds and carbon, while Autumn…Autumn had not skills other than tossing leaves about, but it was better than a flurry of ice particles.
As the new year rose, the global temperatures did as well. Winter’s slot was over, and Spring’s fell away, and Summer was left with a population of people rejoicing the pleasant lives they had been given.
The pleasant lives given to them by herself, Summer reminded her subordinates. Herself with their assistance, but really, she was the one in charge. Summer felt herself growing and glowing like the Sun as the Earth swelled with increases: increases in people, increases in plants, and increases in happiness.
“You’re killing everybody.” Winter barged in and stomped next to Summer, her very presence darkening the area by a few degrees.
“Actually, I caused a net population boom-” Summer corrected, but Winter cut her off.
“You’ve caused a pandemic. Great job, Summer,” Winter mocked. “And now the Earth is burning, too. You really want to burn our home?”
“Well at least I’m not freezing it!” Summer argued.
“Excellent.” Winter’s voice had barely risen. “You shouldn’t be freezing anything because that’s my job.” Winter poked Summer in the chest, a cloud of snow spattering the ground. “I freeze.” She removed her finger. “And you re-heat.”
Summer poked Winter right back. “Correction: you kill, and I revive. Except I’m not interested in reviving. Why revive when you could just keep alive in the first place?”
“But you’re not!” Winter sounded exasperated. “The world has been taken over by pesticides! If you don’t give me a chance to get rid of them naturally, they’ll grow rampant! They’ll plague the population—there is a plague in the population!”
Summer sighed. “The only plague here is you. You and your harsh storms.”
“I can tone it down,” Winter defended, holding up her hand and releasing a soft cascade of snow, the crystals brushing against the ground like feathers of a fallen bird. “See how beautiful that was?”
Summer shook her head. “That wasn’t beautiful.”
Winter clasped her hands. “I’m not asking you to agree; I’m asking you to compromise. This is not sustainable. Couldn’t you at least do away with the extra carbon?”
Summer shook her head again.
“So it’s a power-trip?” Winter accused. “No; you don’t actually care about the people. You just want to look like the best.” Winter almost looked like she was going to melt. “You don’t even really care about my blizzard. It was a good one, too-“
“You are being ridiculous. Thoroughly ridiculous. Right?” Autumn and Spring nodded loyally to Summer’s proclamation. “Your blizzards are ridiculous as well—you can’t be trusted.” Summer tossed her hands in the air and the clouds parted to reveal a bright ray of the Sun. “I need to do everything because nobody else here is competent. I’d rather an entire continent burn in oil than let one of you be in charge!”
Winter closed her eyes and stepped back to some Northern, grey country that lived in perpetual precipitation. “No wonder the Sun likes you the best.”