"Vortex" by Rachel Foote

I have many responsibilities as the spirit of fall. My duties range from crispening the air to intensifying the sunlight’s gold concentration. Of all the tasks, the one I take most pleasure in doing is the changing of the leaves. It gives me immense joy to direct them into their order for the relay, slowly altering their color and drifting to the ground. Each year since the beginning of time I have done this, following the cycle. I am Autumn.

The occupation I lead is a difficult one. I must force the works of Madam Summer away, and occasionally let Winter in for a short visit and snowdrift. Yet, through the difficulties, my art is prepared at every equinox, a shimmering, fiery burst of change. I have heard many say that they favor my season, thanks to the crisp, golden balance. It has run smoothly in all situations, at least in all but one.

“Madam Summer,” I wrote with my maple leaf quill. “I send this to you with urgent news. It has come to my attention that my plea for water was taken too strongly. The storms you responded with, left the trees in pools of debris. I simply cannot bring fall when some of the most crucial components are in this condition. I now ask you to dry up the grime and return the world to a reasonable state. Many thanks, and best wishes, Autumn,” I gave the note to a goose, who was preparing for migration to the south, the place where Summer still resided. Little did I know, that wrecking my lovely candles of the season wasn’t all the Madam had planned.

Over the next fortnight, my progress went from bad to worse. Summer did indeed dry up the wreckage and water from the flooding, however the moisture disappeared entirely. A drought followed my simple plea for less destruction. In an attempt to make Madam Summer see reason, I wrote again.

“Madam, it seems that you do not understand me. Due to these extremes in weather, I have found it very difficult to keep the balance of autumn delight. Trees, sunflowers, and the unharvested crops are suffering from the waterlogging experience, followed by the bleak baking of the sun. In order to clarify, I now request simply that you allow enough water into my territory for plant growth. Please take care not to send too much. I will be most grateful. Sincerely, Autumn.” I gently brushed a lock of my golden-red hair off of the aspen parchment that was still glistening with scarlet berry ink. If only my kindness and attempted understanding had proven successful.

My point still hadn’t gotten across to Summer. She did provide the correct amount of water, and plants did grow correctly. However, in setting out to destroy the season that I conduct, Madam Summer forced spring sprouts and flowers to flourish. They would not survive once Winter sent his snow. I knew that it was time to take action, find the tyrannical Summer, and stop her mission to reign. Fall’s orchestra could not vanish forever.

In the end, an effort was made. The battle had to be performed in the land of the more powerful season, in this case, Summer. Crossing land and ocean, I arrived at her uncharted island. Green was overwhelming. The concentration blinded and fogged the mind. Summer’s grotto resided at its heart. Entering, I heard the Madam’s cruel, mocking diction clearly in the echo of her dialogue.

“So,” Summer sneered. “ I’ve been discovered. No matter, for soon, I shall rule the fall equinox, and eventually, the entire solar year.” I tried to speak sense into her.

“Madam, you are already a powerful elemental spirit. You command the equator and its surrounding lands. I know that jealousy can get the better of anyone, but if you stop and think, perhaps you would reconsider?”

“I suspect you wish me to repent and let you win?”

“Of course,” I wondered how that hadn’t been clear.

“That is what I had presumed. However, I shall not indulge you with that victory.”

“Please?”

“Never!” she scoffed. “Your golden red season overwhelms mine, despite its brief time of service. Summer must defeat all seasons throughout the year. Then, this planet will be glorious.” It seemed beyond argument. 

I sighed, “then let the brawl for the equinox begin.”

We rose into the humid, muggy air. Madam Summer sent a heat blast toward me. It ended with a wave, damp and green. I retaliated with a frost arrow. My opponent and I battled at great length, each countering the other. Summer’s eyes flashed. Clearly, if I fell, she would show no mercy. I was faced with a decision. Was I to destroy a senior season, or perish in the storm of Summer? Wildfire was crackling in the Madam’s heart. It was now or never.

I mustered all of my strength and summoned a Vortex. Only to be used in emergencies. The Vortex was an immediate victory, at a price. It distinguished some of my power. That year, summer was to pass into winter without a hint of autumn, other than what had been presented. My Vortex glowed fiery red. Summer gasped. The powerful spinning top whirled at her. She was drawn into it and thrown out the cone.

“I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. “I-I just thought that, if the most balanced season was mine, then I might be favored by the people.” I forgave her.

“I shall see you next year,” I said, beginning to leave. “What about the rest of autumn?”

“I used the Vortex, I must make way for Winter.”

“Unless I give my assistance to restore the world.” I didn’t speak. It was true. My symphony could continue.

Madam Summer helped repair my season. Fall was beautiful once more. Also, she had learned a valuable lesson, one that to this day, she has not forgotten; to be grateful of what she possesses, not envious of what isn’t hers.

© Rachel Foote, Westview Middle School, Longmont, Colorado


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