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Kei Villacruz | First Place

Description: "Change is beautiful and difficult."

Summer stopped in her tracks. Summer breathed, taking in the sun diving for the horizon. For her, the sun reigned gloriously in the sky for hours and hours relentlessly. Her rays had furiously beamed at the ground, warming up the rich soil for the plants to grow. Summer exhaled, watching a chill breeze push around fallen, red leaves. For her, those leaves were a lush green, adoringly reaching for the sun. Summer noted these striking changes and stood in place, patiently waiting.

Autumn blew in with another gust of wind, leaves falling before her path in a carpet of apple reds and latte browns. With Autumn’s appearance, Summer began to breathe inhales full of crisp, sharp air. Gone was the heat of the sun luring people out to sandy beaches. Instead, people would bundle themselves in coats and scarves, in gloves and knit socks. Gone was the need to have fans spinning all day and all night. Instead, every door and every window will remain sealed shut in a greedy attempt to keep out the dry, cold air. Gone was the preference for ice cubes in glasses of water. Instead, the water will be poured from a hot, whistling kettle over a tea bag of delicious spices.

Summer’s control over the season waned quickly. Soon, she would leave letting Autumn take her place. She supposed bitterness could fill her heart. Maybe she’d selfishly cling for an endless summer. Summer dreamed about becoming eternal: more people to visit the ocean and leave behind sandcastles; more children’s laughter as they played to their heart’s content, finally outside of school; more festivals serving up smoky BBQ and fruity ice desserts; more fireworks to accompany wistful yet energetic pop songs; and so many memories would pile up, day by day.

Autumn approached, crunching the leaves under her feet and whistling gales sending her greeting far and wide. She offered a reassuring hand to Summer, and she promised more memories would still be made during autumn, too. Though the plants will wither, hearths and homes will soon almost burst with fullness. Animals and humans alike will return, eager to organize their harvest and distribute their bounty. Decorations would be plastered to the walls, sat in nooks and at the dinner table as food would lovingly stew away on the stove. The absence of the sun’s light could be easily remedied with smaller cozy candles, scented with pumpkins or a pleasant, smoky wood.

Do not worry, Autumn reminded, the people will not grow lonely. Celebration is forever, after all. Every town, big and small, would host more festivals. There would be enough food to go around, made to keep bellies hot and tongues satisfied. People would still cheer for fireworks dancing in the dark sky. They would stay close as their hearts beat to nostalgic ballads, written yesterday and today. People would gather for stories to be told with a warm drink held in hand. Together, they would share their troubles. Together, they would talk of trade and swap advice. Together, they would offer up confessions and reconciliations. People will be drawn together by their hopes and their yearning. Together, together, together.

The change of seasons will always usher in something new. A new goal to be set, a new love to earn. A new joke to tell, a new dance to learn. When there is change, there could be much loss. But, Summer reflected, there also could be much to gain. Rather, there were many paths revealing themselves to her, thus she need only pick one. She will do so gladly, moving forward and trusting Time to bring summer back.

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