Eternity

K C

K C

Third Place Winner; Age 13-17 Category. San José Public Library | Fall into Fiction Contest, 2022

Past the migrating geese and through the falling red leaves, the wind whispers in the ear of a little girl standing beneath the swaying branches of a willow, guiding her down a well-worn path. As the little girl roams through a copse of trees, her eyes snag on the scattered leaves. An idea sparks within her and she collects the leaves to build a giant pile before taking a few steps back.
One.
Two.
Three!
The little girl dashes forward and leaps as high as she can. Red and orange and yellow cloud her vision as she sinks to the ground. Then she jumps up and shakes her head, grinning from ear to ear as leaves tumble from her hair and shoulders. "Again!" she says to no one in particular before forming another pile. 
Before the little girl realizes, the leaf piles vanish and the world is covered in a blanket of white. She sticks a tentative finger into the snow and gasps at the freezing temperature. Undaunted, she gathers a large pile of snow. But when she jumps in, she is only met with shivers.
The little girl wishes fervently for the red leaves to come back as she absent-mindedly toys with the snow. But when three giant snowballs stand before her, she snaps out of her daze.
Up the second ball goes onto the first. And then the third onto the second, creating a snow sculpture. The little girl gathers pebbles and presses them in to create a face, then branches for arms, and stones for shoes.
"Hello! What's your name?"
The sculpture introduces herself as Madam Snowknight, captain of the Snow Guard. She is on a journey to defeat the evil dragon terrorizing her kingdom and invites the little girl to join her.
As the two venture into the cold, they make many memories traversing the freezing terrain and braving dreadful blizzards before finally arriving at the dragon's lair.
The dragon emerges from his cave to confront the valiant knight, and the two fight bravely. The little girl watches in awe as the snow melts from the dragon's fire and Madam Snowknight pushes on to defend her kingdom.
Bright embers cloud her vision, and when the little girl blinks, she is met with a field of flowers. She brushes her fingertips over the delicate petals, smelling the purples and pinks, then lays supine atop the flowers, twirling a bright red bloom in between her fingers. As she wonders how to bring winter and Madam Snowknight back, a voice jerks her back to the present.
"Hello! Who are you?"
"Hello. My name is Blue. What's your name?"
"I'm Red. Would you like to be my friend?"
"Sure!"
The two play hide-and-seek and make flower crowns together. When they have exhausted all their energy, they collapse in the meadow and watch the passing clouds, pointing out the jellyfish and lightning bolts and clocks.
And when night finally falls, Red bids the little girl farewell.
"I must return home now. Will I see you tomorrow?"
The little girl nods and watches Red's back as he vanishes into the dying sunlight. After some time, drowsiness fills her body and her eyes slip closed.
Bright rays of sunlight blind the little girl as she stirs awake, and she covers her eyes with a hand. When she takes in her surroundings, she notes that the meadow of flowers has been replaced with an endless stretch of blackened plants and ashes. The little girl coughs up the dust gathering in her lungs and waits for Red.
When the little girl realizes her friend is long gone, she stands and surveys the area. She feels hot and sticky, and desperately wants to cannonball into a pool of cool water, but there is none in sight. She takes a few steps in one direction, then the other, when she spots a glittering oasis in the distance.
After hours of walking toward paradise and no water in sight, the little girl is about to give up when she catches a flash of movement in her peripheral vision.
"Red?" she calls, before scrambling after the figure.
She ignores her aching muscles and burning lungs, desperate to catch up with her friend.
But when she comes close, his familiar features morph into the unfamiliar ones of her own.
"Only fools turn their backs on fate," her reflection states before wavering and crumbling to dust.
Soon enough, the seasons change once more and the little girl feels...lost. She wails into the night sky, unleashing her sorrows and anger at the loss of autumn and winter and spring and summer.
And past the migrating geese, through the falling red leaves, the wind whispers in the ear of a grinning girl who resolves to face her story's end, for she knows there is no such thing as eternity.

Third Place Winner; Age 13-17 Category. San José Public Library | Fall into Fiction Contest, 2022

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