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In the Still of the Night

by Regina Phelps

I long for summer. Well, I really long for spring right now. Anything but winter. The dog died this past winter. It felt like a person died. A sad winter, so I'm glad it's over.

I long for the birth of spring and the playfulness of summer. March dragged. Yesterday a cold drizzle drenched my hair and chilled me to the bone.

I welcome spring. In my mind I see her as a young woman extending her hands to welcome me. All dressed in white - not sheer white, spring still needs warmth. I see her standing just to the left of the stage smiling, a slight breeze moving her dress. She's holding something in her hands. She sprinkles a silvery dust and the grass turns green. Crystals of shiny ice still twinkle in her hair, slowly melting as the air around her warms.

The change of seasons is magic. I long for summer's magic. Old Man Winter, his winds howling, his coldness holding on, weakens in front of such beauty and must let go to spring. He fades and spring becomes stronger, teasing us with her almost warm temperatures that hold the promise of summer, occasionally slipping backwards with a cold windswept rain.

April calls me. It whispers a promise - not a loud promise. The buds push up through the ground. I walk outside with a sweater on. "Breathe deep," I say to no one. Feel the air, feel the sun. I miss the dog, but like the winter, the memory is starting to fade.

It's not warm enough yet. I long for May, its fragrant lilacs filling the late spring air. Early summer with its robins and birds filling nests in the trees. I love the calmness of early summer, the warmth without the heat. I long to walk barefoot in the grass, to watch as it turns a lush green.

June, and the young woman is older. Still young but more beautiful now, her dress is sheer. It moves with her as she walks. In July she is mature, her face, warmed by the sun, glows. I long for the sun on my face. Winter waits in the wings impatiently, but still far off. The July heat wilts the flowers and long cool drinks of ice tea don't quench your thirst. You sit on the beach, the water lapping your feet, its coolness welcome.

The days become longer and hotter, sometimes oppressive. The woman of the seasons is still on stage, her beauty peaking. Summer: She is perfection, her roses full and fragrant. She wears a crown of flowers. She has grown from the spring princess into the summer queen. She holds on, moving silently through the fields, a perfect balance of woman. Her dress, now a mere wisp, barely covers her. It clings to her in the hot August heat. She revels in the summer's beauty, in its sounds.

Crickets, locusts all are with her. And in the still of the night the older woman she has become starts to hear a weak voice offstage calling. It's a young man's voice. She hears the sound of autumn, of crisp cool leaves crunching, and she shivers, knowing. But for now she moves grandly through her season, through her life. Summer's music and warmth healing her and me.

Regina Phelps started writing seriously in the twilight of her life. She loves it with a passion and wishes she had started earlier. She has been published in small presses such as The Fiction Primer, Dogwood Tales, Happy, Satire and others. Recently she gave a second fiction reading in Manhattan. She lives on Long Island in New York and is a wife to a lobsterman, a mother of two and a grandmother of four. She has just finished her first novel and is working on another.

Email: reginap@earthlink.net



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