“Please don’t go.” She sobbed, falling to her knees in the snow as her father disappeared, and once again, she was alone. Her arms outstretched, she clung to the air where he had once stood, falling against the cold ground and collapsing under her renewed grief and guilt.
She did not have long to grieve, as a shadow began to fill the snow, and her tear filled eyes followed it, meeting another familiar gaze that pulled a gasp from her lips.
His eyes were kind but lonely, and he smiled softly, reaching a hand down towards her.
“Damien?” April gasped, taking his hand and standing from her hiding place. He didn’t speak, simply leading her, with a smile, away into the snowy night. “Where are we going?” Damien motioned to his throat, with a glum attempt at a smile and her eyes followed his finger. She gasped at the deep gash that stretched across his whole neck, falling back in shock. “You cut too deep…” The ghostly figure nodded, and April felt a stab of guilt, remembering her part in persuading the man down the path he’d taken. Damien shrugged with a solemn smile and continued to lead April into a bright light up ahead.
April blinked and hid her eyes from the blistering luminance, but soon, it faded, and she found herself once again in familiar surroundings. It was the meeting room at the Garden, and it was filled with warmth and laughter. Crude paper decorations filled the walls and a small but scrumptious seasonal feast was spread across a table at the side of the room. There was no music, but the merriment of her flock was apparent in the way they embraced and smiled at one another.
“These bitches are having a party without me?” April spat, her jaw hanging open as she took in the joyful celebration around her and noticed her own absence from the proceedings. Damien shrugged, rolling his eyes a little as she turned back to the party, seemingly realising that helping April see the error of her ways might be a little harder than he’d thought.
“How about a toast to absent friends?” Joanna, one of the more faithful daughters of the Garden called out. The party goers huddled together, pouring out drinks for each other as she raised her own glass.
“Aww, they do miss me!” April said with a smile, leaning back against the wall and watching the last of the flock pour their drinks.
“To our former leader, Celia.” The gathered members raised their glasses and nodded with sad smiles as Joanna continued. “And our dearest brothers Ricky and Damien.” Damien blushed at the mention of his name, glared at by April who was waiting for her followers to remember her.
“Any moment now…” She hissed, her fingernails digging into the palm of her ghostly companion.
“And most importantly…” April gritted her teeth, scowling at the crowd as Joanna hushed the crowd and prepared to finish her toast. “Most importantly, here’s to our treasured Goddess Invierno.” The crowd nodded, their glasses clinking as they drank to the ones they loved most, and ignored the one they couldn’t stand.
“May she return to us soon and save us from April!” Came a call from the crowd and the room erupted in laughter. Deep inside of her, April was bubbling with rage at their lack of adoration, but somewhere even deeper, she was beginning to wonder if perhaps, she deserved their scorn.
Pulled from her pity, Damien beckoned her back towards the light that lay behind them, and after a brief step forward into the brightness, the light began to fade, and she saw a small but tidy room that again, seemed familiar.
“Andre, are you sure you don’t want to go to the party?” Gillian called out to her husband as he gently placed their son into his cot and turned to face her. He nodded, taking her into his arms and sweeping her into a passionate kiss. “Well, I suppose all we need to celebrate Christmas is right here…”
It was April’s turn to roll her eyes, but Damien stared over at the couple with affection and slight envy.
“Can we go? I’m tired.” April whined as the couple surrounded their child, looking down at the infant with affection. Damien nodded with a defeated sigh, taking April’s hand and leading her from the room.
They walked down the hallway, through the quiet, cold house and while April was primarily feeling sorry for herself, she had begun to wonder if perhaps, those who followed her were right to resent her. Shaking off the feeling, she turned to Damien, but was shocked to find herself alone, once again.
It had been a strange night, and April had a lot to consider, but there was still one more visitor that she’d yet to meet, and perhaps, the third spirit would be the key to her salvation.