In Spring’s Bed

By on Apr 13, 2010 in Fiction

Spring & Winter personified

Spring’s fingers traced the dark welts on my chest, which Winter had left only days before.

Winter had been bitter that year, but then again she’s always like that. She never changes. Even when she’s warm, you can feel her clawing into you, getting under your skin. Her nails are sharp, and they don’t tickle the way Summer’s do. If you let her, Winter will eat your heart, taking it apart with her long nails and devouring it in little bits.

That year I feared it was more than even Spring could fix. As I lay under her, watching her put the needle in her pretty little mouth, her smile wavered for a second and I knew the stitches wouldn’t hold. Still, Spring tries her best, which is more than I can say for the others. Summer’s too busy having fun to care about such things. I don’t think she’ll ever grow up, no matter how old she gets. Summer always wants to go down to the ocean, or ride the roller coasters in the park, or get drunk and watch the fireworks.

Then there’s Fall, who’s like an amazing dream you can never quite remember. She’s gorgeous, easily the most beautiful of them all, but somehow memory fails to capture her. You’d be better off trying to take a picture of a ghost. The only thing about her that ever sticks in my mind is a smell – not quite perfume, not quite hair – indescribable, but unmistakable. Fall doesn’t talk much, or at least I don’t think she does. I can’t recall. And when you wake up, she’s always gone. Instead, there’s Winter, already digging her icy fingers into the flesh of your chest, searching for your heart.

Spring finished the last stitch and cut the thread with the grace of a master seamstress. I sat up slowly, warily, but there was no pain. As always, she had done a perfect job. And she never asks for anything. I brought her close and she yielded willingly, soaking me with her warmth.

“You don’t have to leave.” She whispered the words, her lips brushing against my ear ever so softly. “I’ll do anything you ask of me. Be anything you want me to be.”

I shook my head, and she pulled back. She was still smiling, but a cloud had passed over her face and her eyes were glistening with tears barely held inside.

“What do you see in her, anyway? Fall and Summer, maybe, I can understand. At least they try to be good to you. But all Winter ever does is hurt you. Why do you keep going back to her? I could give you so much more than she ever will – than any of them ever will.”

Every year she said the same thing. Usually I would mutter something about how she reminds me too much of my mother, how it would never work between us. That year, however, I decided to tell her the truth. The words came out of me automatically, like recited lines in a play.

“What do I see in her? I see the stars, crystal clear points of light, calling out to me across the cold, black sky. I see all the secrets of the universe hidden under sheets of snow and ice on frozen lakes. And until she shows those secrets to me, I’ll keep going back.”

“You love her?” She hadn’t said a word, but there was no mistaking the question in her eyes. Spring can make your heart melt with a glance.

“It’s deeper than love. Call it destiny, if you have to call it anything. It hurts, yes, but I have no choice. I need to see her. It’s who I am.”

Spring bowed her head and said only “I see,” and we never talked about it again. She still sews me back together every year, and she still smiles and shares her warmth with me like she’s always done. But she doesn’t ask me to stay anymore. And every time when I leave her house to call on Winter, it begins to rain.

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As a writer, Jude Coulter-Pultz has never been able to stick to just one genre. He's dabbled in literary fiction, flash, sci-fi, fantasy, and even bizarro. His stories have appeared in publications such as Planet Magazine, Bewildering Stories, and Frostwriting. In addition to his writing, he is the creator and editor of an online literary magazine called Eight Clouds, which is dedicated to promoting new, upcoming talent. For his living, he teaches English at a university in Tokyo.