Heidi Heimler's work has appeared in both online and print publications, including People of Few Words, Volume II, Full of Crow, Potluck, The Scarlet Sound, Popcorn Fiction and others. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Though Mother Earth has birthed them all, the four siblings could not be more different. Fall is younger, shy, retiring. He likes earth tones and the scent of spice, but the blues are his constant companions, along with a thundering sky and a recurring torrent of rain. Fall wears dark clouds like hats. A perpetual chill rattles his bones. At times the sun breaks through and musses his gold-brown hair, but never long enough to warm him. Despite his quiet melancholy, Fall, when he sees children in their Halloween costumes or a woman painting a roasted bird with drippings and herbs, always manages a smile. One day, while Fall gathers leaves, forming them into neat piles because the trees shed their clothing so sloppily, his older brother Winter comes and buries Fall beneath a heavy blanket of snow. It's quick work; Fall never sees it coming.
Grizzled and unshaven, Winter's erratic gaze darts this way and that, his eyes ice-blue and wild. He sends innocents running with his angry squalls, his raging winds and crippling storms. Words tumble from his lips at breakneck speed: danger, slippery, warning, accidents, fatalities. Invariably, Winter's frenzy stalls, then plummets. Temperatures fall, ushering in a withering stillness. There's no effective treatment, no way to stop Winter, nothing to do but take cover and wait. The only one that can calm him, can ease his mood swings and soothe his savagery, is his sister, Spring.
When Spring comes, Winter beats a sometimes hasty, sometimes hesitant retreat. Eventually, he takes a bow and the stage is hers. The youngest in the family, Spring favors the dramatic. She has a penchant for the vivid, for bursting colors, for dressing up in floral prints and humming songs in major keys. Spring loves everybody. She's an innocent: virginal, delicate and new. Other girls hate her. She gets high on praise, washes herself in gentle rain, never wears a bra or panties. On warm nights she dances, reveling in the admiration. She'd go on forever if not for her older sister, Summer.
Summer's face is leathered, her heart hardened. She insinuates herself into the lives of the sentient and the inanimate, rendering her sister nothing more than a memory. Her smile is too fixed, her jaw too set. She exhales fury. At times she's erotic, hungry for the taste of searing flesh, for friction and release. Her heat breaks through the gauzy restraint that she throws on just for show, a pretension meant to soften, but failing. Summer can love, and she can kill. She singles out an unsuspecting soul, gulps down breath, drains fluid, leaves her lover sated or lifeless, depending on her whim. But most of all she likes to burn. A good, miles-long forest fire sends her into spasms of orgiastic joy. She revels in her handiwork, marvels at the havoc she's wreaked. People hang their heads and cry, pleading with the skies to send relief. Eventually, the skies abide. And send Fall.