Boreas Winter wakes just before daybreak every morning with a five-minute stretch, followed by his ablutions. Within fifteen minutes of waking he selects a crisp, starched white shirt which has folds that could slice the skin and is wrapped in tissue paper. His suit – as black as treacle – is double-breasted and fits him like a second skin. He pauses to recall the day of the week. His gaze travels along the seven ties which create a rainbow of colours, one for every day of the week. Today is Wednesday. Yellow it is. The soft silk glides through his fingers, forming the perfect Windsor knot. Boreas Winter steps back and admires his form. He checks his watch; his coffee will be perfectly brewed. The curtains, set by the same timer as the coffee pot and the lights, peel apart revealing a purple bruised sky reflected on an enormous expanse of glass.
A loud, impatient knock interrupts his journey to the kitchen, and he looks at the door. This is not a scheduled visit. How annoying. He opens the door and Summer breezes in. Barefooted, bronzed and breathy.
‘Hey, Winter, you running late?’
‘I never run late, as you know.’ His jaw clenches as she drops onto his cream leather sofa without invitation.
She inhales deeply. ‘Mmm, I’m ready for a caffeine hit, this is way too early for me.’ Stifling a yawn, she drops her head back. ‘But the others insisted.’
Boreas clasps his hands behind his back and peers at the clock. He should have been drinking his coffee thirty-seven seconds ago. ‘Others?’
‘Yes, they’ve got their knickers in a knot about you. Summer picks at her toenail and he watches in horror as flakes of red nail polish fluttered to the floor. ‘This stuff is rubbish, long lasting shine it said on the bottle!’
Boreas turns as another knock rapped at the door. Time to read the papers, thirteen minutes was usually suffice.
‘You want me to grab that, while you get the coffee?’ Summer jumps to her feet and as she passes by ruffles his hair. ‘You always look so neat.’ She smiles, that familiar smile, running her tongue between the small gap between her front teeth. Boreas frowns and glances at the door. ‘The others, remember? I’m here to mediate, so make it four cups.’
What was Summer up to? He was not only behind schedule for the papers, but he’d missed his diary planning. His entire day would be up in the air if he didn’t take control. He clenches his fists as two figures stepped through the door.
‘Now, look here.’ Boreas stops in his tracks. Euros Autumn and Zephyros Spring stand either side of Summer. He hasn’t seen them for three years, four months, two days and – he checks the clock- and two hours thirty-five minutes.
‘Now isn’t this nice?’ Summer beams. Autumn and Spring harrumph in unison. Their gaze fixed to the floor. ‘We thought it would be good to get together, to discuss, you know. How we share the year. Didn’t we, boys?’
Boreas folds his arms, his legs slightly apart. ‘This isn’t on my agenda for today and I’m already behind.’ He nods to the door, ’so if you don’t mind.’
‘See I told you,’ Autumn huffs, his voice throaty and deep. ‘I told you he wouldn’t listen. He just wants the lion’s share. Winter never gives in.’
Spring nods, his hair fashioned into plaits that resemble daisies wobble around his chin, and then bites at his bottom lip.
Summer steps towards Boreas and runs a finger down his cheek. He feels the heat from her skin, burning through his clothes. ‘Now, you wouldn’t want me and you to get too close, would you Boreas? And you have been very naughty, taking your time to come and go these past few years.’ A bead of sweat pops up on his forehead. ‘I’m sure you can see your way to give these two guys a break.’ She winks and leans into him to whisper in his ear. ‘You see, I know how to melt your icy heart, and that wouldn’t be pleasant.’ Her gaze hardened. ‘Would it?’