"Winter's Home" was for a cover contest. I was given a word and told to come up with a title that contained it, a story to fit the title, and an amazing cover to top it off. I entered the contest because the girl running it looked lonely. I was sure I wouldn't win.
Wouldn't ya know, I got third place. I think it mostly had to do with the fact that my word was "Home" and the way I used it was very much not the usual thing you think of when you hear that word. The only reason it occurred to me was the fact that I wanted to use one of my own pictures - and a surprising number of my pictures were of snow-laden trees ... Apparently, I like taking pictures of snow ...
Hey! I have an excuse - we don't get snow very often where I live, so when we do, it's a big deal!
Anyways, I'll show you the award-winning cover, and then you can read the story. "Winter's Home" may or may not worm it's way into Jessica's Summer. I'll have to see.
Spring's home is a flowery pavilion. Butterflies flit here and there.
Summer's home is on the beach, with sand, sun, and fun!
Autumn's home is in the forest, where she can always have food to gather to protect against want.
But Winter is cold. She has no home. She has an icy fortress to which she'll retreat, but it is not a home.
Winter stalked up and down the halls of her fortress. It was Summer beyond her domains, and her power was at its weakest. She was always the most restless at this time. Finally, she got tired of inactivity.
She had her sleigh readied, then got in and took the reigns.
It took only a few minutes for her to reach the edge of her territory. Good ... good ... the snow wasn't melting. Still ...
She got out of the sleigh and surveyed the area on foot. There was something off here ... something that didn't belong here. She wrinkled her nose as she pulled back an evergreen branch. Evergreens were such nuisances, being so colorful and all. Yet, she put up with them ...
Then she let out an annoyed growl.
There, laying on the ground was a small child, a girl, maybe three years old. Such was not an unusual thing during her own reign. During her own reign, the portals to her land were open. People, especially children, wandered here frequently.
It was no matter, however. Winter bent over to kiss the child, a kiss that would pour her cold into the miserable creature, and end its miserable life.
Yet something stopped her. She held back. What was the child doing in her lands?
For some time she just stood there, eyes fixed on the child. If she had been Spring, Summer, or even Autumn, she would have taken the child in, and made attempts at returning the child to its parents.
But she was Winter. Cold-hearted. Cruel.
She bent over and scooped the child up. She almost balked when she felt its wamth. The child was nearly blue, yet was still warm compared to Winter herself.
She carried the child over to the sleigh and climbed in. She would have to talk to her sisters about the child. For it to have wandered in during Summer's reign, that meant something was up.
Once in her fortress, she handed the child to one of her few warm-blooded servants. Even though Winter could stand cold - no, thrived on it - those puny humans, especially children, could not. She handed the child to her servant ... and forgot about it. She had more pressing issues to attend to.
A few days later, a curious sound awakened her. Was that ... laughter? A child's laughter? Here? In her fortress?
Then she remembered the child she had rescued. Frowning, she went to investigate.
She discovered the child playing in the snow. Playing ... and laughing.
The faintest smile touched the corners of Winter's mouth. The edges of her frozen heart melted ever so slightly. The child could stay, she decided.
And that was how Winter's fortress became Winter's home.