Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autumn Having A Brew

Autumn Having A Brew
©2012 By Nishi Serrano

Autumn gazed past his transparent reflection in the window. The people beyond the glass walked briskly by as they gripped umbrellas and tightened scarves snug to the neck. Ah … another rainy November day in Portland, perfect weather for a finely crafted brew. In front of him the pint’s tiny bubbles surged upward and disappeared. It amazed him how the carbonation kept appearing as if by magic at the bottom, never ending, at least not until the last drop of cider slid between his lips.

            A freckled hand wrapped around the drink, the rivulets of condensation interrupted. He fingered the wetness, anticipating the excitement of flavors to soon douse the palate. This was his drink, the fruits of his and Summers’ labors. Yet, Summer hadn’t partaken with him for at least a century. A flurry of white beyond the warmth of the café caught his attention. Oh, my. And here he thought he would be drinking alone.

            A woman entered followed by a freezing wind that chilled each one of the patrons, and brought with her a smile that froze every look directly on her. Autumn smirked. The lady flicked her long tresses away from her face impatiently and set about removing her light-weight coat and scarf as she floated to Autumn’s table.

            “Well, I should have known you’d be here. I ignored my gut instinct and started in London. Thank goodness you’re a creature of habit,” she said, plopping onto the seat opposite him.

            Autumn sighed and glanced at his cider, a tad miffed he wouldn’t get to savor it in full bloom. “You’re early.”

            Red lips pouted at his accusation. “No, love, you are late.”

            He grimaced. “Blame it on Spring.”

            Tattoos and black appeared beside the table, dominating their view. The waitress appraised the newcomer nonchalantly and asked, “You need a drink?”

            It was scary how large Winter could stretch her smile. “Why yes, what a tasty little morsel you are! However, I guess I’ll just have to settle for bourbon on the rocks.”

            The server’s cheeks colored. She mumbled something and quickly exited. Of course bourbon, after all, it was the new cool, despite it being around for decades.

            Winter pinned her attention back to Autumn. “Out of all of us, you have the best hair. I’m positively jealous. I tried to dye mine that same color of sparkling red, but it looked hideous on me.”

            He grinned. The wintry season would be longer this year, she seemed a less frigid incarnation than usual. “Surprising, you’re quite pale.”

            “Yes, yes, rub it in. If only I could be as lusciously dark as Spring, she gets all the fun!”  

            “Oh, but you get invited to the best parties.”

            “True. Did you know Summer and Spring are off having a fling? I suppose that’s why you got bunked. It’s not the first time they’ve done this, but it does mess with the flow of things.”

            Autumn ignored her for a brief second, raised his glass, closed his eyes, and took a swig. When the taste effervesced, his green eyes opened. He licked his lips. Winter gazed at him, entranced.

            “So, why are you here?”

            Surprise and hurt wrinkled her normally smooth face.  “To talk about the end of the world.” A cocktail napkin and glass plunked down in front of her, the smile returned.

            “You ready to order food?” the server asked.

            Winter couldn’t stop her boisterous mouth. “Only if you’re on the menu, dear,” she replied, and winked. The server glared and walked off.

            He rolled his eyes. He’d had to listen to that bit of gossip for the last seven years incessantly. There was always some faction or other going on about the end of the world. It just so happened the Mayan’s were the star record holders for the longest held theory, thanks to modern gadgetry. “Do you really believe that schlock?”

            “Where have you been hiding that pretty ginger head lately? Humans aren’t the only ones talking. It’s been reflected in deeper pools if you catch my drift.”

            He gazed longingly at the cider and sighed.  “What makes this year so special?”

            Winter gave him a hard, squinty stare. She drummed her fingers against the rocks glass and said, “The Bat.”

            “Come again?”

            Her usual frigid self returned. He hated it when she looked at him as if he were a child. “Mayan folklore. Man’s downfall from greed and corruption. C’mon, just look at who’s running for the presidency in your beloved USA, not to mention the rest of the hoopla. Anything could happen. And, apparently it’s about to.”

            He rolled the cider around his tongue, and swallowed. If this was the end, what would it mean? What would happen to him and the others? No more finely crafted brews? He shuddered. “Why are you telling me this now, Winter?”

            She guffawed, pounded the amber liquid, and then patted the corners of her mouth with a napkin. “Oh, you really are priceless. Don’t you listen to the news? “

            He shook his head, brow raised.

            “You’re date dear, and that means you’re responsibility.” She threw up her hands and sighed. “Really Autumn, are you that daft?”

            Perpetuated by her words, a moment of sheer, chilly terror traveled up and down his spine. Impossible—he hadn’t been out of the loop that long, or, had he? “No, no … this is a mistake, maybe a joke by the Fates,” he said, gaze searching for something far beyond the window of the café, a means of escape perhaps.

            “You can’t blame anyone else. If you weren’t off hiding all the time, you’d have known sooner,” she accused.

            Autumn was speechless. A thousand thoughts swirled inside his head like a gale of skeletal leaves. If the responsibility of stopping the end of the world landed on him, then it needed to prepare for doom.  His hands tightened around the pint. This unnerving change of the wheel caused an unfamiliar feeling, that of being truly alone for the first time. Lost … everything would be lost.

            When he raised his gaze to meet hers, he was ashamed to see pity written plainly across her features. Winter sighed. “My poor, poor Autumn. I never thought it possible for you to become further melancholic, but you have. Fear not, you are my favorite, and I plan on helping you.”

            He felt like he should hate her, but Winter had always been a close friend, even though she was a bit high maintenance, and snarky. He cocked his head in wait for her clarification.

            “Start at the orchard. You know—the original orchard. I can’t come with you though, they hate me. Plus, they get righteously jealous whenever I’m with you. They practically worship you and Summer. Anyway, I hear an old friend of yours might have some information.”

            Autumn blanched. That old haunt was the last place he desired to visit. This end of the world nonsense was happening far too soon. He would be forced to relive the beginning of events all over again. Bloody fumpkins! His mind went on a cursing rampage as the ice queen continued to stare.

            She broke the silence. “Don’t I at least get a thank you?”

            Angry, he gulped down the remains of his brew, smacked loudly, and said, “Gee, thank you for bringing me high tidings, do you want a big hug to go with it?”

            “You’re not the hugging type,” she said and huffed.  She pulled a rumpled wad of money from a pocket and dropped it next to her empty drink. Both hands on the table, she leaned over it with her face close to his. “I’ve got your back, I’ve always had your back, and stars know I’d love to see that front, so stop moping and get to it. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and meet up with you down the road.”

            He grimaced at the finished cider clutched between his numb fingers.  Winter donned her scarf and breezed out the cafe without another word. She paused outside the window and tapped a nail on it. A smudge of frost appeared. She held her hand out, palm up in front of her face and puckered her lips. Kiss, kiss blew a blush of Winter. Autumn shivered.





            Have a fabulous fall! ... N











Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Bonjour! Nishi...
I read your short-story over there on The Empire... What an excellent read...I like the way, you practically, let the seasons, "take on a life Of their own..."...Merci, for sharing!
deedee :)

Nishi Serrano said...

So glad you appreciated the story--this is my favorite time of the year, when ghosts and monsters and storytelling do take on a life of their own! Cheers ...