Angel of the Winter Solstice (TaeNy 1727)

November 20, 2013 in One-shot! by itsakyo

Hail rained upon the land, destroying nature and property alike, discriminating against neither. To the ignorant beings that roamed the land, it was a natural disaster. It was a case of freak weather. They blamed the corporations, they blamed the pollution, they blamed one another, but none were at fault, really. It was Taeyeon. All Taeyeon.

Taeyeon was normally a calm character; her name bearing the meaning of ‘calm’ in itself. Her expression when she did not smile was cool, cold and unreadable. To those who did not know her well, that would be what they saw. But to those who were closer to her, they saw in her something else. Haunting loneliness.

Being responsible for the weather of winter did not make things easier for her. Winter, full of snow, was chilly and freezing and the cold made her feel empty inside. There was many a time when she would curl up on her bed and try to sleep but fail to. And in the dead silence of the household, devoid of her sisters’ merry and cheer, she would feel even more alone.

She longed to be summer sometimes. Summer was Sunny, her cheerful, bubbly sister whose smile brought warmth to the hearts of many. Or even autumn, her quiet, shy and kind sister, Jessica. Or spring, her vibrant, lively sister, Yoona, who brought life and hope with her presence. In essence, she longed to be anything but winter.

She didn’t always long to be another season, however. Once upon a time, she used to like being winter. But she saw how cruel winter could be, one day, and that changed everything.

*

She was younger and more reckless when she ventured down to Earth one day, despite the rules that stated that she was not allowed to. It was there on the pavement of a quiet street that she met Tiffany. Tiffany was a young girl who had a beautiful smile. Her smile was so enchanting and kind that Taeyeon was infatuated instantly. And she was the first person Taeyeon spoke to while on Earth.

*

“Hi, how much are your candles?” Taeyeon asked the pretty girl who had caught her eye with her dazzling smile.

“It’s a dollar for one.” Tiffany’s eyes sparkled under the sun although her skin seemed paler than the people on the streets.

Taeyeon flashed a smile of her own. “They’re very nice. What’s your name, by the way?”

“It’s Tiffany.”

“It’s nice to meet you Tiffany, I’m Taeyeon.”

“It’s nice to meet you too, Taeyeon.”

Their eyes met and life flowed between them as a curious sense of warmth crept into her heart. Taeyeon tucked her golden-brown wavy hair behind her ear and squatted to take a good look at the candles that were laid out on the ground.

She was impressed by the decoration of patterned leaves on one of them. “Wow, this candle is really pretty! Did you make it?” she asked.

Tiffany nodded with a delightful smile. “I made it. I made them all.”

Taeyeon raised an eyebrow when Tiffany turned to the wall and coughed suddenly. “Are you alright? Are you ill?”

Tiffany’s dazzling smile returned after her coughing episode and she shook her head. “I’ve been coughing like this since forever. Don’t worry about it.”

Taeyeon was a little doubtful about that for the cough sounded really deep and hollow but she did not pursue the matter. If she said she was fine, then she was fine, Taeyeon thought so she waved goodbye to Tiffany and took one more look at her before setting off to explore more of Earth.

There were many sights and sounds to experience and Taeyeon was amused by the snowmen that children were making in a field of snow. She stopped to look and laughed when a child began throwing snowballs at other children, thus triggering a snow fight. The snowmen were the biggest casualties of the fight, being knocked down by children who ran about in all directions, not caring where or what they ran into. The sight brought a smile to Taeyeon’s face. She was glad that the children found joy in the snow that she brought to their world.

And as she walked away, she thought about Tiffany. Tiffany, with her worn out jacket that didn’t seem warm enough for this cold, cold, winter. Tiffany, with her welcoming smile that made it seem like everything would be okay. Tiffany, selling her pretty candles on the pavement. A sudden pang struck her heart and she winced from the squeeze. Thinking about Tiffany made her feel happy and sad at once. Why?

*

The next day, she found herself on the same street. She had not planned to but ended up here again, somehow. And it was the same girl whom she met yesterday, who was out selling candles again. It was colder today and Tiffany seemed even paler than yesterday.

“Hi, Tiffany,” Taeyeon greeted her.

“Hi, Taeyeon,” Tiffany greeted in return and smiled.

Tiffany’s smile had not lost its warmth despite the colder temperature and a jolt of life zapped through Taeyeon from head to toe. It was a feeling she knew not of. Certainly not in the hundreds of years that she had existed as winter. Why were these wonderful feelings withheld from them all this time? Taeyeon was sure that her sisters would love to experience such wonderful feelings as well and made up her mind to tell them all about it when she returned.

Taeyeon looked at the candles. There were fewer of them but the ones that remained were the same ones from yesterday. Tiffany had not managed to sell many of her candles. Taeyeon understood that in this world, one had to work for their keep and this was obviously Tiffany’s way of earning hers but it didn’t seem to be sufficient. This worried her.

“I’m back for another candle,” said Taeyeon, deciding there and then that she would try to help Tiffany as much as she could.

“Take your pick,” replied Tiffany with cheer and Taeyeon couldn’t help but smile in return.

She chose another pretty candle and paid Tiffany for it.

“Have a nice day,” Tiffany said merrily to her. Then, she waved goodbye just like the day before and walked away. Only this time, she didn’t set off to explore the world. Instead, she entered a coffee shop and sat down to watch over Tiffany. She didn’t know why but she knew she had to.

All day long, Tiffany gave passers-by her brightest smile and warmest greetings despite her worsening cough. But none of her candles were sold, until a little girl stopped by her makeshift stall. Taeyeon’s heart leapt, thinking that Tiffany would finally sell a candle but she was stunned when Tiffany gave the little girl a candle without receiving any payment for it. The little girl wore the happiest smile as she skipped away with a pretty little candle in her hand and Tiffany looked just as happy but Taeyeon didn’t know what to think. Only one word came to mind. Angel. Tiffany was an angel.

*

Day after day, Taeyeon found herself visiting Tiffany’s makeshift stall again and again. Each time, she would buy a candle and it was during those short visits that she began to learn a little more about Tiffany.

*

“Pardon me for asking but why are you selling candles on the street? You look pretty young, shouldn’t you be home with your parents?” Taeyeon asked.

A glimpse of pain flashed through Tiffany’s eyes and her smile dropped a little as she replied, “My parents aren’t in this world anymore.”

Taeyeon’s heart clenched upon hearing that. Tiffany was an orphan. Yet, she could never have guessed from that beautiful smile. How strong was Tiffany to keep up her spirit in this cold, cold season?

She learnt that Tiffany’s mother had left the world when she was nine and her father, a year later. Now, she was alone. All by herself at the tender age of eleven. Eleven, she was only eleven. Taeyeon held back a rush of emotions as she continued their conversation.

She also learnt that Tiffany sold candles because candles brought light and warmth to her during winter and it was all she could find to sell from the trash that she rummaged through.

Taeyeon could barely hold her tears back that day. With every little bit that Taeyeon found out about Tiffany, a little part of her died also. And for the very first time, winter herself felt the cold.

*

With each passing day, Tiffany seemed to grow colder and weaker each time Taeyeon met her. And her cough was beginning to sound like death.

So after buying her ninth candle from Tiffany on the ninth day of meeting her, she was determined to do more for this kind girl. She waited till dusk had fallen upon the land, casting Earth in whispery shadows before making her move. She didn’t want to be seen. Not while doing something she wasn’t supposed to do. She was going to give Tiffany a portion of her essence to cure the cough that had gone from bad to horrible over the past nine days. She had to. She had to do it before the winter’s cold worsened the cough and took Tiffany’s life. But just as she was about to move, a hand clapped over her shoulder and stopped her.

Twirling around, her eyes desperate, she tried to wrench her shoulder from the grip but froze when she saw who it was.

“Don’t.”

It was a single word but it was enough to stop Taeyeon instantly for the wisdom in that word could be felt even in her bones.

“Mother…” Taeyeon’s voice trembled. She couldn’t bear to watch as Tiffany curled up on the pavement with her candles. The few candles that remained were lit, for winter’s cold was merciless and cruel to the ill-protected. Yet, the little flames of the candles did not cast enough warmth for Tiffany. Her teeth were visibly chattering and not a single soul was out on the streets on this dark, cold night to help her.

Mother Nature patted Taeyeon’s shoulder comfortingly and said, “There’s a purpose in everything just as there’s a reason for this.”

But Taeyeon couldn’t see the purpose and didn’t understand the reason. And the life that had been breathed into her heart by an angel’s smile flickered out as she witnessed the last candle burn out and heard the last cough and breath of a young girl called Tiffany.

It was only then that she finally understood why she and her sisters were not allowed to visit Earth. The reason was simple. Their governors did not want them to know that weather could be such a b*tch.

*

There was little her sisters could do to help her. Upon her return, she shunned them all and hid deep within herself. Even their mother couldn’t talk her out of it. She hated being winter and she hated the cold, for it was winter’s fault for taking the life of a beautiful, innocent girl who gave so much warmth to others yet received nothing but coldness in return. Thus, woe befell the beings on Earth as they endeavoured to endure one of the most brutal winters in history while Taeyeon, the bereaved, fumed at herself.

But after one particularly hazardous hailstorm wreaked absolute havoc on Earth and sent humans into a state of panic, Mother Nature decided that she couldn’t allow her daughter to withdraw from the light any longer. She would bend the rules to save the poor mortals who were at the mercy of her daughter’s never-ending raging depression.

*

“Taeyeon,” Mother Nature called her daughter gently. She found her daughter standing by the window, looking listlessly at the clouds that floated by. “Taeyeon, there’s a special visitor to see you…”

“I’m not seeing anyone, Mother.” Taeyeon did not even turn around to face her mother.

“Are you sure you don’t want to welcome this visitor?”

Something in her mother’s voice made her turn to look.

Gasp.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. Was she hallucinating? Was this her fantasy come true? Or was this…

Mother Nature spoke just then, as though she had heard Taeyeon’s thoughts. “She’s real, Taeyeon. This is Tiffany, angel of the winter solstice.”

Taeyeon was speechless. Her jaw moved but words failed her as she tried to come to terms with the reality of seeing Tiffany standing before her very eyes. There were magnificent pink, fluffy wings flapping gently behind her and Taeyeon thought she looked absolutely beautiful with them. Their eyes met and it was familiar yet foreign at the same time, for she could see the change in them. Tiffany was no longer an eleven year old girl even though her eyes still twinkled like how Taeyeon remembered them.

But what really took her breath away was Tiffany’s smile. Tiffany’s timeless, classic smile. It was the same smile that had infused life into her heart that day on Earth, and as she stared, the same warmth crept into her heart, warming it up all over again.

And for the first time after one too many seasons past, Taeyeon smiled.

Tiffany stepped forward, her arms wide open and engulfed Taeyeon in a warm embrace.

“You bought nine candles from me during the last nine days of my life. Those were also the nine warmest days of my life, Taeyeon.”

Taeyeon found her eyes brimming with tears and the emptiness of her heart lifted in that instant.

Tiffany then smiled, laid her hand over Taeyeon’s heart and said, “I chose to be the winter solstice angel because of you, Taeyeon. You made me love winter all over again.”

And she leaned forward, pressing her lips softly to Taeyeon’s before taking a step back. “So, be the winter that you are, remember the joys of winter and the fun that snow brings.”

And Mother Nature smiled right then, for down below, the hail had stopped and the softest, gentlest, most beautiful snowflakes made their first appearance for that winter.

*

by itsakyo