Four children were left on Martha’s doorstep, one each for the four seasons. Winter’s baby came last, wrapped in night and gazing at the stars.
No one knows where they came from or which persons were responsible for abandoning them so, and yet Martha took to raising them as her own, her loving warmth more than making up for the cold indifference with which they were cast aside.
Spring was the first to arrive - her tiny cries piercing the crisp chill of the morning air. Martha had no choice but to pick her up and cradle her to her bosom straight away, lest the cold silence her. As she grew into a child, Spring was the one that always followed Martha around, helping with the household chores and tending to the garden. Her horticultural skills were something to behold, transforming a barren patch of soil around the house into a floral paradise.
Always the first to do things and arrive at places, Spring was always so enthusiastic and full of verve. Her constant energy seemed implausible and overly chirpy to some – but for others it was a welcome reminder of how one could exude boundless positivity - living without being afraid of anything.
It was a sad day then, when she passed. Dying young is always tragic, but more so for one seemingly so full of life. No one knew exactly how she died, but rumours spoke of how living double the life in half the time had been the cause, whilst others speculated that somehow deep down she had always known of her short time on this earth, which in turn led to her living her life to the fullest.
Summer was the second of the children to arrive. It was a blazing hot day, and if it were not for her laughter echoing amidst the warm breeze perhaps Martha would not have found her. Always happy and content, Summer grew to be a lovely young woman. Relaxed and friendly, she would calm anyone in her vicinity – when she was around it would always bring out the best in people. They would forget their quarrels and hardships in their life and just be.
With no end of suitors it was no surprise that she married young and subsequently left the household to travel to faraway lands. She was always grateful to Martha for her care and upbringing but it was clear that she could not remain in one place forever. It is not known what became of her, but it is certain that wherever she was she would be bringing a smile to someone’s face.
The third child was Autumn. Nestled amidst the fallen leaves, she wailed when Martha picked her up and cradled her. She was beautiful as a baby, but growing into her adolescence she became almost impossibly beautiful. Her pale skin and clear blue eyes would hush rooms as she walked in. Men would avert their gaze when she met theirs and her name became etched on the hearts of thousands. She was always such a sad child, so distant and detached; unable to identify with anyone or anything other than the ethereal and the mythical. She never found one that she could love – all those she met eventually left with a heart broken, knowing that she could never truly belong to them and them only. Once again, tragedy befell the family when she was found hanged amongst the bare branches of the orchard. She was unable to belong in this world.
Winter’s baby came last, wrapped in night and gazing at the stars. Martha quickly fetched some cotton blankets and held her close before the unforgiving cold could claim her. She was hardly breathing, still and silent as the frozen night – it was a miracle that she was still alive.
Winter was quiet as a child. In fact, she hardly spoke at all. Always lingering at the back of the room. The last to arrive, the last the leave. Sometimes people didn't even notice she was there. Always so silent, simply watching and waiting. It was no surprise then that she ended up outliving them all, even Martha. She was the only one there at her side in her final moments, comforting her with her silent smile.
Once Martha was gone there was not much purpose for Winter to stay here. One day, without a fuss, she quietly packed her bags and disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.
No one knows exactly why these sisters were brought into this world in such a way, or ultimately what their purpose was. But one thing was clear – they lived on within the hushed whispers of the townsfolk, the stories of their lives continually perpetuated by those huddled around a comforting fire. They would not be forgotten.
24th August 2012