The Summer of Discontent

This is a Summer story and it turned out a little… um.  Not quite dark, but with dark-adjacent bits. While nobody in the story is either depressed nor suicidal, there’s frank discussion of both in the story.

Summer is Autumn’s middle sister; Bishop and Melinda are her partners.  Add first appears here. This story is contemporary with Graduation… or Not

“Summer’s sitting on the roof again.”

Add barely looked up from their homework. Med school was a bitch, and it left them impatient with dramatics of any sort.

“House roof or Bolsch Hall roof?” The house roof was lower but steeper and slicker, being the slate-shingled roof of an old Victorian in Collegetown.

“Bear Hall roof.” Melinda didn’t really have any more time than Add did, or than her partner Bishop did — he was at the library right now — or their other roommate, Carney. But it was her girlfriend, their girlfriend (but Bishop was busy) and something had gone weird with Summer in the last couple semesters.

“Shit.” Add looked at their phone and frowned. “I can spare you… forty-five minutes. I’m sorry, but I’ve got an exam day after tomorrow.”

“Thank you.” Melinda sagged in relief. “Thank you so much. I’ll help you study tomorrow, if you want. I’ll definitely take your turn doing the dishes.”

“Tell you what, Summer ought to take my turn.” Add grabbed their coat. “Come on, let’s go. Shit, Bear Hall. That’s new.”

The Bear Hall had a donor name, but the thing was, it also had bears — a giant bear statue out front, a mural of black bears on one side of the entry hall and brown on the other side, and so on. A recent donation for renovation had stipulated 4% must go to new bears, and so the Arts building was currently housing a large exhibition on bears, including a scientific display neatly tucked off to one side.

What Bear Hall also had was roofs even slicker and pointier than their house, and taller than Bolsch Hall — or any of the other halls, for that matter. The Arts department always had attracted good donors, even if the amount had gone up since Summer began her eternal studenthood, back when she and Melinda and Bishop had all been freshman, 1000 ( seven) years ago.

And on the highest peak, a blonde figure was perched against the setting sun, her lemon-yellow trenchcoat looking oddly cheerful against her pensive pose.

Oddly — oddly if you didn’t know Summer, at least — nobody else had looked up.

“She’s not depressed,” Add mused, while the two of them navigated the endless slick stone stairs upwards. “She’s definitely not suicidal.”

“She’s not having trouble with classes,” Melinda added to the differential diagnosis. “Well, okay, she’s bored in a couple, but they’ve started letting her take grad-level work just… because.”

“Not troubles with you or Bishop, right?”

“If there are, she hasn’t said anything, and I don’t think so. She didn’t fight with you or Carney recently?”

“Not in months — years, really. Last night we were playing Medical Flashcards Against Humanity, and she seemed fine. Family? Mother, brother, sisters?”

“Autumn sent her a card — it’s on the ‘fridge, so no dark secrets there. Winter’s got a ferret; she giggled about that for a week. Spring is… Spring.”

After this much time together, that was all Melinda needed to say.  Summer’s little sister was… herself, which was generally different from minute to minute

“Someone else got the part?  It’s Greek this year, right? She likes Greek.”

“Someone else always gets the part.”

“Always?” Add peered at her. “Every time?”

“Every. Time.”

They popped carefully out of the hatch.  Summer was staring at the moon, but she glanced their way.  

“I would’ve been fine, guys,” she protested, scooting their way slowly.  “I promise. I would’ve.”

“And yet,” Add pointed out dryly, “here you are, on the most dramatic roof on campus.  Brooding.”

“Not brooding…!  Well, okay. A little brooding.”  Summer sighed. “I used magic on Lyra Potter.”

“And?”  Add peered at her.  

Mellie sighed.  “Summer, you’re the one that told me there’s no rule against, uh, malicious magic.  Not in small doses.”

“It wasn’t malicious.”  Summer’s voice was tiny.  “It was a charm, a helping jolt.”  She sighed and ducked her head. “You really didn’t have to come up here.”

“Oh, and should we have let the freshmen find you instead?” Add countered, although they all knew a freshman would likely only find Summer if she allowed it. “We’re your friends — well, your friend and your partner.”

“I’m sorry.  This is, well, it’s a little ridiculous.”

Melinda patted her shoulder.  “It’s okay, Summer. Growing up happens to the best of us.”  She leaned in and whispered dramatically. “I won’t tell anyone.”

As they climbed down from the roof, giggling now, Melinda decided she was going to have to talk with Bishop.  They had to find their partner a project.

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