Forever Summer by Christopher Liew
A SABLE /Futureversity alumni student, Chris has consistently shown himself to be a young writer committed to developing his craft. I enjoy working with Chris; he knows how to produces the goods with his sensitive writing.
Christopher Liew is a Londoner with a little black book of quips and quirks that he has rescued, harvested or downright stolen from that beautiful affliction they call Life. Sometimes, his doodlings get lifted from obscurity to bloom into fully-fledged stories. If he has done his job well, people might choose to walk his worlds with him; this is the authorial equivalent of stroking a purring cat, and he enjoys it immensely. Other things that keep the doldrums at bay are a steaming cup of tea, a good book and the thought that, if all else fails, he can always run away with the Circus. His sensitively written lyrical prose is reminiscent of the fact that he is an equally sensitive poet.
Forever Summer by Christopher Liew (2012)
The heat spun, dancing across the meadow and tickling her olive skin. She could feel it, the friendly, feathery touch of a lifelong friend. The girl spun and danced with it; her short sun‑bleached hair playfully tousled by the fragrant wind. Smiling, she flopped down onto the grass, sighing a satisfied sigh. Glistening at her breast was a golden pocket watch, covered with delicate filigree and dangling from a fine chain. She twined it between her fingers, raising it to her face. It twisted gently in the breeze. The girl frowned, and the grass around her began to shrink away, slowly shrivelling to a crisp brown.
Time had come so soon.
It wasn’t fair. She loved this time of year. Hell, everybody loved this time of year. Why did Summer have to end? A tear welled up in the corner of one eye, the air thickening with it. She expertly flicked open the case of the watch and stared balefully at the hands steadily ticking around. Dark clouds blotted out the sky as her eyes screwed together, and her tears were the first of the raindrops to hit the ground.
She had seen the clock, and realised that Time, as always, was calling her again. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she cried; the rain ran down her body in slick, smooth waves. She tensed. Far-off flashes of lightning sparked between the clouds. She screamed out loud, somehow simultaneously the hurt cry of a young girl and the long, rattling boom of thunder.
A silhouette broached the crest of the nearest hill. Foolishly, they had their umbrella up, even though the lightning was burning dangerously close now; close enough to drag her out of the dusk. A woman with long, coppery hair: all reds and rust browns. Deep ochre eyes.
It was too soon! She tugged at the watch around her neck, trembling as again, she flipped open the casing. The sun began to slip behind the horizon, stealing the last of Summer’s warmth. A wet chill filled the air, and still her red‑headed sister stalked closer.
“Go away!” The girl shouted, the rain sputtering and dying. She shivered. “It’s not time…”
The woman calmly shook off her umbrella and shook out her hair. “Aesther, why must we go through this same charade every year?”
“All of us must take our turn.”
Aesther looked down at the watch in her palm. It returned her gaze solemnly, its face telling her all she didn’t want to know. She cried again, quieter this time and dew grew crystalline on the undersides of the dying grass. Her sister sat down beside her and held her close.
“They will enjoy the Summer even more when they have it to look forward to.” She whispered to her younger sibling. Aesther knew, deep inside, that she was right. She smiled, and returned the embrace. They sat together a little while, and the equinox passed quietly. It was the one time of year when they could enjoy each other’s company. Night passed, and morning came. Aesther blinked back more tears as sunbreak arrived.
In silence, she slid the warm chain from around her neck and held it before her, the watch turning gently in the gathering dawn.
“Take care of it.”
The woman smiled. Graciously, she took the precious timepiece from her and replied: “Of course. Give my regards to Father.”
The metal bronzed over as it changed hands, so subtly that it could have been merely a trick of the light. The girl and the woman stood. Between them, a single russet leaf fluttered to their feet. Aesther looked back over her shoulder as she walked away. She was leaving.
The woman with the autumnal hair stood and watched as her sister walked away. As her Midas touch spread, the last of Summer faded into memory. Leaves curled to gold and floated slowly down, gilding the ground. Small animals began to prepare for the coming Winter. The wind grew mischievous, kicking up the single leaf which had fallen between them.
Aesther was gone. She would not know the beauty of the Fall, with its rich spectrum of reds and golden browns. Likewise, the woman who stood in the world now would never know the allure of Winter, nor Spring. But she did know that there was not long for her to shape the world to her image of perfection. And so, she got to work.
Aesther had gone home. Her sister was right: she never did understand the attraction her siblings brought to the world. To her, Summer alone was perfection. She hugged her Father and sat with him in their garden. Around her knees, flowers blossomed and danced. Butterflies fluttered and swooped about her head. As they talked, she wondered what her sister was up to. She shuddered inwardly at the thought of the endless carpets of dead leaves, the bare trees, the chill air. She would never understand. But this was the way of things.
After all, for her, it was forever Summer.