The field of grass, kept trimmed and clear by generations of children, was covered in daisies. The flowers slowly opened their heads as the sunlight touched them, blotting out the green and replacing it with their purple-tinged white. Bushes grew all around the field, and tunnels though them showed where the field’s caretakers came and went. Behind the bushes, the city rose up, buildings rising far above the ground. Yet, in the field of grass and daisies, none of it showed.
The bushes were tended, just the same as the grass, and they were encouraged to grow high and strong. Myncies clambered up the bushes, Xweetoks and Usuls following behind, while the winged children called out from around them, telling them where the bushes needed tending. In the field itself, children of all sizes and ages played together, forming groups to act out the Meridell wars, the battles against Dr. Sloth, or anything else that caught their fancy.
Each day, a different group of children came. They all knew each other, as each had been introduced to the field by a friend or an older sibling as soon as they were old enough to keep it secret from adults. Adults, themselves having tended the field in their time, simply let the children believe that their field was secret. They had gone through the same process of slow realization that the adults had to have known and tended the field, after all.
In summer, when school was out and few children had anything of importance to do, they gathered in greater numbers. The daisies, as if in response, grew thicker as well. For all that the children plucked the daisies and wove them into chains, decorating the bushes and each other, there were always more of the flowers. The children made up stories as to why the daisies grew so thick in this one field, while any flowers in the city soon withered away.
One of those stories, the story of Summer Snow, is passed down the generations, lovingly told and retold, kept almost exactly the same with each telling. Perhaps the gender of a character or two changes, or the exact wording of what those characters say, but the meaning behind the story has never changed.
This is that story. The story of Summer Snow.
A red Lutari, one of the oldest still allowed in the field, sat in a corner, young children of all species and colors sitting around him. Some sat in the bushes, others picked and wove the daisies, but all of them were focused on him and him alone.
“It happened in this field,” the red Lutari said, looking at the youngsters clustered around him. “How long ago? I don’t know. Nobody does, not anymore, anyway. But it happened here. Nobody believes that it could’ve happened anywhere else.”
“What happened?” a little blue Pteri asked, her voice peeping out.
The Lutari smiled at her. “Summer Snow happened. You see, in the time of this story, it would snow in Central.” He laughed as the children gasped. “I know it’s hard to believe. I didn’t believe it myself, when I first heard about it. Then I researched it, looked in the old books. Not the computers Sloth has decreed we use. Books made of paper and written on with ink. It took me a long time to find a library, a place where those books are kept. When I found it, I looked up this story. I still don’t know whether or not it’s true, but it did snow here, a long time ago. That gives this story a fair chance of being true.”
Before any of the children could ask him to tell the story, the Lutari raised his hands. “Yes, yes, I’m going to tell you the story. Why else would I be here?” He pointed at a little yellow Kougra who was opening his mouth. “Don’t answer that. Anyway,” he said, continuing over the laughter, “this story happened not long after Sloth came.”
One of the youngest children, a Faerie Xweetok, looked up from her daisies. “How long ago was that?”
The Lutari hesitated. “A hundred years, I think. There are only a few people who remember a time before Sloth, and there are no books or files that talk about when the transition was. The books I found were dated differently than the system we now use, which makes it even harder.”
“The story?” the blue Pteri asked again.
“If you stop asking questions, I’ll get to the story sooner.” The Lutari ruffled the Pteri’s feathers, still talking. “So, Sloth had just taken over Central. The city was in revolt, and the robots and mutants were enforcing their laws without mercy. One of those laws was to get rid of public gathering spaces not controlled by Sloth.” The Lutari paused, ears flipping back. “They burned the parks. The fields like this one. Even the gardens that people used to plant in front of their houses. They burned it all.
“One of those spaces he burned, an oval park in the middle of the shops, was beloved by all children. They would gather there and play, much as we do now, as their parents shopped or talked. It held nothing but grass, flowers, and a few bushes and trees.”
“Trees?” A young rainbow Mynci looked down from the bushes. “They let us have trees back then?”
“Yes.” The red Lutari sighed. “Trees grew everywhere in Central, and people would rest in the shade they provided, climb them, tie rope to them for swings, build forts in them. But that’s not part of the story I’m telling. The story goes like this.” He leaned forward, meeting the children’s eyes. “They burned that park at night. The next day, a young Xweetok made of nothing but snow went there, only to find nothing but ashes and charred pieces of wood.”
“How can you be made of snow?” a pink Bori asked, crossing his arms. “It melts.”
“Magic,” the Lutari said simply. “The same magic that, back then, allowed there to be people made of chocolate or ice, or those who looked and felt like plushies, or Chias shaped like fruits or vegetables. That magic is gone now, and the remnants of it are what give us Faerie wings—” he nodded at the young Faerie Xweetok “—Werelupes, Maraquans, and so many other things. But this young Xweetok was made of snow, and her name was Summer.”
The Lutari paused for a moment before continuing. “When Summer saw the devastated field, she couldn’t take her eyes off of it. Her mother pulled at her, trying to get her to leave, but Summer didn’t budge. Instead, she spoke. ‘Mother. Bring the rest of them here.’
“Her mother didn’t argue, so the story goes, and soon the other children were gathered around Summer. All colors and species were represented, just as they are now.” The Lutari gestured at the children around him as he continued. “Summer spoke to the children. ‘Gather grass seeds, flower seeds, anything that will make this green again,’ she said. ‘How can we live without this park to play in?’
“The children scattered, and their parents followed behind. All of them left, except for one. That one, a young spotted Lupe, asked Summer a question: ‘How are you going to make sure it lives?’ he asked, looking over the park.
“Summer didn’t turn away from the ashes. ‘The earth still lives,’ she said. ‘We just need to remind it of its life. I’m going to tend to it as it grows back.’
“‘And if the robots come back?’ the Lupe asked.
“‘Then I will replant it, again and again, until they know not to forbid us this park.’ Summer turned to look at the Lupe then. ‘If we all care for it, they cannot deny us all.’
“The Lupe said nothing in reply, but sped off to collect seed for Summer.” The red Lutari smiled, leaning against the bush behind him. “It took years for the robots to give up on destroying the park. Summer worked on the park continuously, even sleeping there. The other children rallied around her, and when at last grass grew upon the ground, thick enough so that they wouldn’t rip it out by running, the children began to play.
“At first it was simple games of tag, just a release of pent-up energy and an expression of their joy at having grass to run on once more. Then the games grew more complex, and they found ways to plant bushes all around the grass, creating a barrier that others couldn’t get through. Over time, the bushes grew. Over time, daisies sprouted in their field. Over time, Summer’s park became this.” The Lutari spread his arms to encompass the field they sat in. “Our field. And it’s all because of Summer Snow.”
The spellbound children didn’t speak at first, and when they did, it was all at once. The barrage of questions and the Lutari’s attempts to answer them all drew smiles from those nearby. They had all heard the story once. They all knew what it was to be given a reason for their field, and to be given questions about what the world was like before Sloth came.
The daisies bloomed. Some were crushed under running feet, others were plucked for decoration. But the daisies bloomed, white as snow on the green grass. Summer’s field. Summer’s snow.