Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Vanessa Barger
Giant snowflakes clung to my eyelashes, as I slipped across the rut covered road toward home. Chilled to the bone, I tugged my cloak tighter about me, wishing for warmth. In the distance, I saw the wooden bridge, green grass flourishing on the other side.
I stopped and stared at it—longing to escape the constant winter landscape I lived in. But Mother’s warnings came back to haunt me. “Don’t ever cross the bridge, Elle, the creatures will try and lure you away. But it will mean certain death.”
With a sigh, I began to walk again when I spotted a glimmer near the bridge. My heart thudded against my chest. Had one of the monsters come through? My mind told me to run, yet, I moved closer to the wooden structure.
Hiding behind a tree, I watched a boy about my age step onto the bridge, his shaggy dark hair blowing against his face. His eyes scanned the woods, and landed on me. He stood taller, his sun-kissed skin glittering beneath the moonlight.
“Hello,” he called to me.
My legs trembled, but I stepped from behind the pine. “Who are you?” I asked.
“Lars Oakwood. I come from the village of Summertime, just over the ridge.” He pointed behind him.
“You live beyond the bridge?” I moved closer to him. Had mother lied to me? He didn’t seem like a monster.
“Yes.” He smiled, making my legs turn to butter. “I’ve come to find a girl, named Summer. She is to be my mate. Our village mage has seen it in the stars.”
My throat went dry, blonde white hair snapped around my head as the wind picked up.
“I am sorry but there’s no one around here who goes by that name,” I said, moving closer to the boy.”
“There is, it is you.”
“No. My name is Elle Winterborn. And Mother said I’m never to cross the bridge, or I’ll perish.”
Lars frowned. “Your mother lies. She’s the reason our lands die, and why you suffer in constant winter.”
His eyes flashed with animosity, and I backed away. “No. Mother tries to keep us safe…”
“Please, come away with me.” He held out his hand, never leaving the bridge. “Don’t you want to experience the warmth? To know what summer is like?”
My fingers brushed his, and I gasped, their warmth sent tiny rivulets of excitement through me. Would Mother know if I went with Lars for just a moment? My skin craved the sun, to feel heat against my chilled bones.
I closed my eyes, imagining green grass and gurgling creeks.
“I’m sorry, I must get home. Maybe we can meet again.” I pulled away from him.
“You must not go back to her. Come with me.” His eyes pleaded with me.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.” I turned and rushed toward home. When I got to our large hut on the outskirts of town, Mother waited for me. Her dark eyes pinned me in place.
“Where have you been? You were supposed to sup with Gregor this night,” Mother said, moving aside so I could enter. “You’re promised to him, remember?”
Bile seared my throat. I didn’t want to see Gregor. Mother had promised the grotesque lord my hand in marriage, in exchange for riches and the right to practice her magic.
“I met someone in the woods, he needed my help.”
“He?” Mother’s eyes widened. “Who was it?”
I wanted to lie, but the threat in her eyes foretold of many punishments if I disobeyed.
“His name was Lars.”
Mother jumped away from me. “You fool, he’s one of them. He’s come to snatch you. From this day forward, you will not travel the woods alone—you hear?”
“Now off to bed with you. I must send word to Gregor.”
Mother wrapped me in furs then went out into the night. When she was gone, I climbed from bed and hurried into her room. Where was it? I reached beneath her bed, my fingers brushing against the leather bound book. She said the history of the season villages was inside, along with spells to keep our village safe. But I knew she was hiding something. She’d been too jumpy as of late.
Once I found it, I set the book on her bed and thumbed through it, until I came to the family trees of the seasons. Autumn and Spring’s names were already struck from the trees. My sisters. Mother had said they’d died from the “fever” but the book described horrific sacrifices. My stomach churned. This couldn’t be.
I searched for my name on the trees. There was no Elle. I saw a familiar birth date, June 21, but it was for a girl named Summer. My heart hammered in my chest. Had Lars been right?
The door to the hut banged opened, and I jumped, tossing the book beneath the bed.
“What are you doing up?” Mother said.
“I needed more blankets.”
She sneered. “So you’ve figured it out—that I need only drain your powers and Summertime will be destroyed forever.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I kidnapped all you girls, Autumn, Spring—Summer. The essence of your seasons…and once you die, I, Winter, shall rule.”
The glint of a dagger blade flashed in the firelight, and I charged toward the door. She grabbed for my arm, but I shook her off, darting into the night.
“Get her,” Winter shouted.
Gregor stepped from the shadows, and I screamed. “No!”
I side-stepped him, and raced into the night. My lungs burned as I hurried toward the bridge. And there he stood, waiting for me.
Lars grabbed my hand, tugging me toward the other side. Sunlight blinded me, the warmth on my skin like a hug from the sky. Birds twittered their songs, summer breeze tickled my cheeks, thawing the winter from my blood.
Lars struck a match and dropped it onto the bridge, and I watched it go up in flames. Winter wouldn’t bother us again.
“Welcome home, Summer,” Lars said. He spun me to face him, his lips grazing mine.
This was where I belonged. Surrounded by sunlight and flowers, and bees, and children’s laughter.
I am Summer.