Day 225 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: What is your character’s favorite season?
Shannon: I love the summer. There’s nothing better than realizing you no longer have to snuggle into a warm jacket. Then when your skin is exposed, the world becomes your own personal heater. Plus the water warm up too, and you can swim, another one of the many perks of summer life.
Erin: I’m one of those weird people who loves winter more than any other season. The beauty of a city blanketed in white, glistening powder makes up for the life-threatening driving situation. My warm morning drinks tasted so much more satisfying. If I could spend my life wrapped in sweaters and blankets I would. I can’t get enough ice-skating and skiing. To me it truly is a wonderland that time of year.
What time of year does your character love most?
I stood there, admiring the view in full, for what felt like an entire eternity before the enormous, smouldering ball of fire that our planet ran around. When I was quite certain there was someone spying on me, I carefully reached for a pen I’d noticed was incidentally lying on the slick mantelpiece and turned in a fluid motion, weapon at the ready. Leaning out from behind one of the arched armchairs was a child, likely around twelve, with cold, calculating eyes and an impassive face. Without dropping my arm, I breathed a sigh of relief and took a few steps forward. My deliberate movements were met with a mirrored measure in the opposite direction by my would-be opponent.
“Hello,” I finally greeted the girl, unable to take my eyes from her silver irises and severe stance against me.
In response, she took a subtle half-step out from behind the chair, dragging her hand on the rough fabric, and replied in a light British accent, “Who are you?” Though her appearance was of an innocent girl, to the eyes of someone accustomed to seeing manipulation and passive-aggression used as tactics against ones enemies, I could see the gears turning in her head as she assessed me.
As a sign of peace, I held my left hand up and slowly dropped the pen back onto the table with my right, all the while keeping up the unwavering eye contact. “I am Peyton, and I was just accepted into this institution. She,” I stopped myself as I realized the woman I’d just had a meeting with hadn’t given me a name, so I waved my hand in the general direction of the lobby, “whoever it is that’s in charge, uh, she gave me a key, well, her secretary did, and so here I am.” Halfway through that speech I changed tactic swiftly from offensive and information-gathering to uncertain shadow; it was a technique my mother used to use when she needed information from unreliable or difficult sources.
Holding part of my breath hoping the girl wouldn’t catch on to my passive plan, I dropped my shoulders and let my hands hang freely at my sides to simulate a relaxed demeanor. “I’m Ivy, and you should have been given a password by the secretary,” she commented listlessly, not relaxing her stiff appearance.
I recalled a scribble on a sticky note off to the side with a word written in cobalt pen that had stuck out to me as I stood waiting for my key. With a small smile, I spoke clearly, “Chrysanthemum,” and wandered over to where I’d dropped my bag, hefting it onto my shoulder lightly. Gesturing toward the identical doors, I asked the statue, “So, which’s my room? I got some people to text that I finally got in someplace, even if it is here.” While she rolled her eyes, the girl pointed to the third door from the right and I nodded gratefully before pacing to it and trying the handle. “What gives?” I asked with a sigh.
“You will have to use your key; that way we each have our own, separate space without fear of interference,” she answered solemnly, still eyeing me as though she expected me to steal something. I slid the key into the lock, turned the handle, shut the door gently behind me and leaned back against the cool wooden frame for a beat.
There had been something very strange going on in that room; a kind of excited energy flying around when the girl arrived. Shutting my eyes tightly, I waited for the painful sensation that came with squeezing your eyeballs before I snuck a peek of my room. For a few blinks, I couldn’t even see past my eyelids and felt the cold sweat of panic creeping into my heart, until I realized it was simply a very dense set of blackout curtains. I ran my hand slowly along the wall to my right and felt an old-fashioned light switch sticking out.
When I flicked it into an upward position and the lights came on a slight gasp escaped my lips, crystalized in the air and fell to the soft carpeting like snow. Dripping from the ceiling was a row of lighted icicles in various lengths, shadows of snowdrifts painted into the high ceilings with painstaking detail. All around the room were frost-coloured end tables, a glass desk made to appear as a block of ice, a wrought iron bedframe that protruded from the snow-coloured floor like jagged rocks and a dresser that seemed to be melting. Along the wall was a realistic painting of a frostbitten castle in the middle of a frozen tundra at midnight; the cold rays of moonlight streaking across the scene. Though it might have just been the impression I got from the images surrounding me, I could have sworn someone turned on the air conditioning as I crossed and sat down on the freezing bedspread.
I decided that this might be more difficult than I’d originally thought; if they went to this sort of extreme for students with checkered pasts, what could they be using as teaching methods?
Finally deciding to leave my room, I pulled an ankh necklace on a leather cord from the outside pocket of my purse, carefully undid the tie, replaced the copper pendant with the vintage brass key and retied the cord. Slipping it over my neck, I felt it settle on my chest and grinned at the girl in the dresser mirror; she looked like she could kick some ass with dyed jet hair and ripped clothes. I went to the door, took in a last icy breath of private air and jerked the handle before I could change my mind.
Where there had been a relatively empty living area that had been encased in dark panelled blinds, the apartment was now occupied by three oddball people and the brilliant lights of midnight in the city. All the blinds had been opened and the cityscape far below us was radiating its unnatural heartbeat for all to see. Completely ignoring the others, I shut my door softly and strutted to the nearest window, placing my fingers on the cold surface and taking in the kind of view I’d only ever seen in movies.
“And you are?” asked a boorish male voice in what I might have pinned as sarcasm if not for the short, high answer that was not my own.
“Peyton. That is what she told me, anyway,” replied the strange girl I’d seen before. I couldn’t see either of them, but I could practically hear the smugness and arrogance in their tones.
Turning, I noticed the gentleman who was sitting in one of the high-back chairs reading a dense book on what appeared to be torture, while the girl was dunking a teabag into a cup with precision. A third, silent, character was spinning a small stack of coins on the kitchen counter without seeming to notice anyone else in the room. With a huff, I headed toward the front door with the intention of leaving when the boy at the counter, whose pale hair flopped in front of his pale eyes as he concentrated, called, “I wouldn’t. We’re not supposed to leave after curfew.” A silence so dense I could have swam through it followed, though I didn’t know why; if I wanted to leave, I’d leave.
But when I tried the handle, it was stuck. I could have sworn there were two voices laughing from the front room, though I couldn’t be certain. With a vicious kick at the closet door, I headed back into the kitchen for a glass of water, making sure not to raise my eyes.
As I dropped a third ice cube into my glass of tepid water, there was a strange power surge that made the lights flicker and everyone else stopped what they were doing. When the lights went back to normal I was the only one glancing around for a cause; the others were staring straight ahead as though they were statues and didn’t say a word. In one fluid motion, they all stood, marched to the front door and exited without a sound or any communication between them. I scurried after them, but the door locked itself again with the sound of an air-tight door being pressurized.
Sighing, I stood back as my phone, safely stored in my back pocket, buzzed angrily and shrieked in a tone I didn’t know it could. I pulled it out and read the single text message out loud to no one but myself, “You have thirty minutes. As long as you can see, you can leave.” Over and over, I repeated the strange sentiment to myself, mulling over the meaning. I stalked into the kitchen, still considering the idea of leaving, and not liking the alternative to the front door. Leaning on the counter, I noticed the coins the kinder of my roommates had been spinning; they were in an oddly-shaped pile that covered a large surface area, which seemed a little off.
I tipped over the top few and noticed that there was a folded piece of paper hidden under them. Crinkling my eyebrows, I toppled the rest over and unfolded the page of scribbled writing that could have belonged to a first-grader. “See by the light of each room. Who you are is the order,” it said in slightly-less-cryptic speak than the original riddle, but I had an idea of what it meant.
With the page jammed into my pocket, I strode to my door, slid the key in and entered the fully-lit room. It took me about five minutes to tear it apart; there was no clue to be found anywhere in the room unless it was inside the pillows. I sighed in defeat and leaned against the bedframe for a moment, thinking on the new clues and trying to decide how far I was willing to go to be in this school. After a bit of thought, I realized I wasn’t that thrilled with anything I’d seen, other than some of the aesthetics of the building itself, and that it really wasn’t worth my time.
Grabbing my bag, I opened the door, flicked the switch off and was about to leave them something caught my eye. Painted across the sky on my wall was a glowing mural of the northern lights in spectacular shades of neon green and cobalt blue that almost flickered in the lack of light. I shut the door behind me and was surprised to see a set of three glowing numbers written on the light switch itself. Blinking blindly at the numbers, I scrounged around the bottom of my bag for a pen and write the three digits on the inside of my arm to keep them on my mind.
Leisurely sauntering back into the overly-bright living area, I turned and headed to the next door and tried it; locked. Pulling out my lock-picking kit I had the first door open in a relatively short timeframe. I peered through the door at a beach with sandy furniture and light sky painted with fluffy clouds and seagulls. Turning the light on, I waited a couple minutes before turning it off and scouring the room for numbers. There, glowing beside a sandcastle, were three more digits that I wrote down, leaving space for another set of numbers to fit between the first and second. In my mind, I assumed the order would mean something like time of day, and since my room was midnight and this was midday, there would be one more between them.
The next door was a little easier now that I was getting into the mindset, and I stepped into an autumn scene with fallen leaves scattered around the bottom part of the walls and partly-bare trees standing naked under dark, roiling clouds. “Aha!” I exclaimed out loud, “It’s about seasons, not time of day.” This light revealed a silver coin moon and creature eyes, as well as three numbers written in dripping paint on the desk.
As I entered the last room, finding flowers in every pastel under the sun, and friendly clouds floating in the sky, I began thinking about where these numbers would be input. When I had these digits written down and the door shut behind me, I turned to the door and noticed the light switch beside the door; that had to be it. I turned it off and instead of illuminating a secret painting, there was a mass of fingerprints in glowing paint ringing the switch itself. With a little jimmying, I managed to pry the panel off and exposed a key code panel that was full of glowing paint. Punching in the numbers in order of season, I was relieved when the door finally unlocked and swung open to expose a dark and deserted hallway. I guess I was happy I’d passed the test, but I was marginally concerned there would be more.
August’s favorite season has to be spring. He loves the growth, colors, and the rain. It’s reassuring to know that after (as he would put it) a bleak season such as winter, nothing stays dead. Of course, there is no season that he hates. Winter is quiet and cold. August loves gaining the opportunity to shove snowballs down Josh’s jacket. Summer is green and no school, which gives Josh the chance to drag August to a beach somewhere. August just dunks him a couple times as payback. Autumn is colorful, and has a chill that breaks out the sweaters.
August can appreciate all seasons, but for an odd reason that escapes him, spring is the one that makes him smile the most.