Wyld FLASH January 28th, 2022
The lemon of the kiss loitered on Seena’s lips so long that she thought of dangerous things. Maybe she could stay a little past the first yellow leaf, before the dew even iced over. Just a few more days. The Craving had not yet taken hold: the people of this neighborhood had not bought more than fifteen pumpkin spice lattes, and no one had changed out their lawn ornaments to spiders and ghosts.
Kero shook his head. His lemon and sugar mouth pressed in worry, and he leaned against his tree. “The Craving,” he said. “It will chase you into the ground. I can’t have that, Seena. I need to know that I will see you again.”
Posing as a human had always made him more cautious, while for Seena, having a body gave her such a rush, she trembled under the flood of potential adventure. “Haven’t you wondered what more we could do?” She flitted over a public pool and heated the air a bit more, and a pair of young boys cannonballed into the water, splashing a fleet of sunbathing girls. Seena smiled. “You want to give this up? Don’t you like your firefly evenings, your watermelon seed spitting contests?” She paused. “Don’t you miss doing this together?”
“Of course,” he said, and sighing, pulled her in for another kiss. The effect of their touch roused the cicadas to buzz louder, and the grass to shine a brighter, almost neon green. But October tapped on their shoulders, and the air chilled even as they danced together in a desperation. Kero huddled inside his maple tree, pleading with Seena to pack herself away as well, and she promised she would. She lingered there while the skies darkened earlier and the people nearby shucked corn, unconcerned with change—no, not unconcerned, but taken with the Craving, babbling about wearing sweaters again and having bonfires. “No,” she said. “Not again.”
The Craving loomed overhead, and she faced it, though trembling. She’d run so long from it that her human legs had that urge, that trained desire. She placed her hands on her knees.
“You will die if you stay here, Summer Sprite,” the Craving said.
“I have cravings, too,” Seena said. “Why can’t I have what I want? Why do the humans decide when the seasons change?”
The Craving lowered itself onto a porch swing. Its body this time around resembled that of a scarecrow, and the old couple who lived in this house, caught by the power of its presence, sat on the swing as well and reminisced.
“I don’t make up the rules,” the Craving said. “I brought you into this world, and I will take you out of it.” It paused. “Not that I want to. It’ll just happen.”
Pumpkin decorations popped into existence on the lawn, accompanied by a few interested squirrels. The Autumn Sprites, invisible to her, must have already arrived. Seena wilted a little, her tank top suddenly dark with a frosty sweat. The Craving—that manifestation of the world’s collective desires—would soon shut her down regardless of her tantrum. A cough started in her lungs, the deep kind that would last till spring.
The old man on the swing said to his wife, “I love the crisp air! Ah, we’ve got to open the windows tomorrow.”
“It wouldn’t be so great without the heat earlier this week,” the wife said. “I wouldn’t want just autumn, you know.”
“I wouldn’t either,” Seena said, and then she understood the Craving. Without it, her tree wouldn’t have created her. Without the wish for lazy sunny afternoons and frying eggs on sidewalks and weekends at the beach, she wouldn’t exist. Neither would Kero. She’d never have danced with him in the warmth of a sudden rainfall, or by his touch, created a neon green in the grass, or tasted the lemon sugar on his lips.
She couldn’t wish that on another sprite, from another season. “I understand,” she said to the Craving, bowing her head, shivering in the chilly air. “I’ll go, now.”
The Craving smiled at her, then reached out. She recoiled out of instinct, out of practice, but it just laid a watermelon seed at her feet. “Grow my summer for me, my dear. I’ll come for you next May.”
Seena took the seed, held it close, and nestled inside her oak tree, and waited for the Craving for another summer.
Author Bio: Emmie Christie’s work tends to hover around the topics of feminism, mental health, cats, and the speculative such as unicorns and affordable healthcare. She has been published in Allegory Magazine and in Three-Lobed Burning Eye and she graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2013. She also enjoys narrating audiobooks for Audible. You can find her at www.emmiechristie.com.
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