by Kate England
Platters of cheese, crackers, chopped veggies and dip cluttered all the available surface space. Summer maneuvered a crock of salsa onto the crowded coffee table keeping an eye on the basket of corn chips sliding precariously close to the edge.
The timer in the kitchen began beeping at the same time that the doorbell rang.
“It’s open!” she called as she flounced into the kitchen. She could hear the door opening. She grabbed her thick oven mitts and slid one on each hand. She opened the oven and inhaled the heat and scents of cooking pie. The filling had pooled up over parts of the crust and bubbles popped thickly, releasing the scent of hot peaches and cinnamon.
“Holy crap, Summer, there’s only four of us coming, you made enough for the Russian Army,” said the voice from the living room. Still holding the pie, Summer poked her head in and smiled at Spring, who was hanging his coat on the rack next to door.
“I get excited when it’s my turn,” she said. He looked at her pie and shook his head with a smile.
“Will you put it down, so I can give you a proper hug. And turn off the damn oven, you’re the only one who likes it this hot,” he said.
Summer slid the pie onto a cooling rack near a window, and pushed the button on the oven. When she re-entered the living room, she flipped the switch for the ceiling fan and then Spring had caught her up in a hug. He spun her around and she laughed.
“Well, you look wonderful, woman,” he said setting her down and patting her cheek.
“Aw, thanks,” she said, her cheeks turning pink. And despite the fan, the temperature in the room rose at least five degrees.
“Stop it, or I stop complimenting you,” he said, but he smiled. “I would have thought I’d have been last. Where’re Winter and Autumn?”
“Beer run. Sorry, bud – you’re always late,” she said. “Hey, try the goat cheese spread. I got it at that farmer’s market you told me about.”
The door burst open and Winter, her arms laden with paper bags that clinked as she moved. A sharp breeze followed her into the house.
“Spring finally made it!” she cried over her shoulder.
“Ha! I knew he’d show up when we went for the beer. It’s the only way to get him to show up,” said a deep voice from behind Winter.
They put the bags down and hugs were doled out and backs were slapped. Winter gave spring a gentle kiss on the cheek and she smiled as warmly as she was able.
“Summer, that place is amazing. If I lived here, I’d be broke. Did you know they had Balvenie 21?” Autumn asked, holding up the bottle.
Summer had grabbed a platter with some tumblers, ice cubes and spritz.
“You like it neat,” she said and Autumn nodded and did a small little jig. Which was impressive for a man of his size. “I brought you some dates from when I visited Spain. To die for!”
Everyone picked up a small plate and filled them with snacks. Cups were filled with beers and wine and scotch. Finally each one plopped into an oversize chair. Stories were punctuated by explosions of laughter, at one point Spring was clutching his stomach trying to recover from the story Autumn had told about cows on a farm that had somehow managed to start one of the combines and started a stampede.
Summer rested her head on Winter’s shoulder while Spring and Autumn went to get the deck of cards.
“It’s been forever,” said Winter, running her fingers through Summer’s hair, that would shimmer gold or green or wildflowers.
“We all get so busy,” said Summer, enjoying the sensation of cool fingers playing with her hair.
Plates were filled and emptied and filled again. Eventually the pie was sliced and handed out.
Autumn took the first bite and rolled his eyes up and sighed.
“Summer, dear, wars will be fought over your Peach Pie,” he said and Summer giggled.
They played cards and everyone got quite drunk. And the hour grew late and then early again and Summer could feel it when it was time to end it and had to dab her eyes on her apron.
“I know, honey. I hate it when it’s time to go,” said Spring and even his eyes seemed overbright. She hugged him too hard, but he didn’t mind, patting her back and pretended not to hear her little hiccough sobs.
He put on his cloudy coat, clasped Autumn’s arm, gave Winter a quick kiss and slipped out.I love it when it’s your turn, my dear.”
Autumn took her hand and kissed it. “
His coat seemed to catch on fire as he donned it, and he waved over his shoulder as he left.
“It will be my turn next,” said Winter. Summer hugged her.
“I can’t wait,” she said.
Autumn took her hand and kissed it. “