Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Goddess Bless Us, Everyone!

Celia Jefferson was dead to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that. As her daughter April sat by her resettled grave, surrounded by flowers that seemed to shine in the sheen of winter’s frost, the girl could only sigh. Old Celia was dead as a door-nail, and now, The Garden of The Free Children was her responsibility. It had been for several months, but April had never felt truly ready to step into her mother’s shoes, and longed, with great fondness for her carefree days as the Garden’s treasured daughter.

She hadn’t a head for figures, and her responsibilities as leader weighed heavy on her as the days went by. She found herself relying on and delegating much of the day to day work of leader to Father Andre, who was doing his best to manage his own duties as a recruiter with all the things April didn’t feel like doing, such as leading prayers, preparing the other children of the Garden for their journey to the Higher Garden or managing the finances for the organisation.

While she didn’t like to look at the numbers, April certainly liked to spend the spoils of the Garden, and lived in luxury, with her own wing of the house and fine furs to keep her warm as winter came. Her mother was gone, but April was still taken care of, by the worshippers who called her their leader, but unbeknownst to April, they had grown tired of pampering the Princess of the Garden.

An icy wind swept through the compound as the worshippers of Invierno shivered around a fire. It was Christmas Eve, their cheeks, artificially rosy with the whistling, whipping winds of the late winter.

It had been a tough year for the people of the Garden. They were still recovering from the heavy losses they had suffered during the long foretold Grey Death that had spread across the Earth, and had used a lot of resources setting up a new Garden after being run out of Inverness when the townspeople realised that a cult (their words, not the children’s) was hiding in plain sight in their neighbourhood.

It had cost almost everything that they had to start over, but the Children were happy to do it, in pursuit of their dream to build the perfect Garden on Earth, in preparation for the battle with the darkness and the rebirth of their treasured Goddess Invierno, just as April had prophesied, and Celia had before her too.

Every member of the Garden had tightened their belts and gone without to aid in the relocation to Glasgow, after April saw their new home in a dream, and as soon as they arrived, the Children took to the streets, recruiting and fundraising to help the Garden recover, but as hard as they tried to avoid it, they were beginning to resent how little April was contributing, and how much she was taking.

As they sat by the fire, looking up at the hill where their former leader lay, they couldn’t help but miss the firm and often selfless guiding hand of Celia, and loathe what her daughter had allowed the Garden of the Free Children to become.

“Cheer up my brothers and sisters, and follow me.” April called, descending from the hill and snapping her fingers with a bright smile. The crowd rose from around the fire and followed April to the meeting room, without a word, watching as she motioned to the chairs before her and stood upon the stage at the front of the room with a grin. “It’s time to talk about the Christmas fundraiser.”

The others looked around at each other, shuffling nervously in their seats. They had spent every day in the build up to Christmas wandering the high street with buckets, and going door to door to spread the good word of Invierno while shaking their buckets to raise money for the Garden. They came back with a good haul every day, but it never seemed to be enough to satisfy April.

“There is a cost of living crisis, April.” Andre interrupted, smiling reassuringly at the congregation. “The children are gathering all that they can, but people don’t have much to give.” A few of the members nodded in agreement, but April’s face was thunder.

“Those pigs are spending small fortunes on presents, trees and turkeys, so they can afford to donate.” She snarled, stepping down from the stage and into the crowd. The gathered worshippers cowered, their eyes falling to the floor as April wandered through her flock, setting her eyes on the back of the room. “We have responsibilities to each other, my friends.” She pushed past the crowd until she reached the back of the room, where Andre’s wife Gillian sat, cradling her infant son, Tim.

Andre had been blessed by Invierno with a wife, and a beautiful child, but the child was sick. April had forbidden use of the local hospital, in accordance with their beliefs, but the Garden’s medical centre lacked the supplies to care for the boy, and his health had been the primary motivator for the fundraiser. As grateful as he was for the kindness of his friends in the Garden, he was well aware of how much of the money they’d worked hard to raise was going to April’s pocket, and was once again having a crisis of faith.

“Tiny Tim.” April cooed, reaching out her arms and wrapping them around the small boy. Andre winced, watching her lift him into her embrace with a wicked smile. “We are so lucky to have you, my little flower.” She gently rocked the child, staring at Andre intently from across the room in a way that made him uneasy. He watched her circle the crowd with his son in her arms and with each passing moment, he felt more and more unsettled by the scene. “We must make enough to care for our beautiful blessing.” Tim began to fuss, a little cough escaping his small chest, growing bigger as the coughs continued, and Andre felt his chest tighten, rushing to his son’s side and snatching him from April’s arms, with an apologetic look that he didn’t really mean.

Tim was sick, but he was a very lucky child. It was the way of the Garden to send baby boys along with their brothers in the garden to satisfy the hunger of Invierno, but a combination of being born to April’s right hand man, and being the only baby born to the Garden that year had saved his life.

“We’ll work harder for Tim.” Came a cry from the crowd. April smiled, gesturing for Joanna to come forward. Joanna had been part of the Garden since its inception, standing side by side with Celia as they built their road to paradise together, and were it not for the friends she had made, and her belief that Invierno would one day return and rescue their membership, she would have left a long time ago. Deep down, April knew this to be true, and she knew that Joanna was not alone, but as long as they still believed her to be their prophet, she had decided that they could not do much harm to her.

“Yes, we’ll do it for Tim!” Another voice joined her, this time from Leigh, another daughter that was faithful, but hanging on by a thread due to April’s antics. Soon, the room was filled with promises of devotion to the cause, in the name of the small boy who wriggled in his father’s arms.

“I’m so happy to hear that!” April cried, taking to the stage again with a flourish. “So, you’ll get started at 6AM tomorrow.” The crowd fell silent, staring up at her in disbelief. There were a few uncomfortable gasps, but nobody dared to speak until Andre stepped forward, clearing his throat and raising his eyes to meet April.

“While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I do think it’s important for morale that our brothers and sisters are able to celebrate Christmas with each other tomorrow.”

April rounded on him, her face flashing with rage. Andre stumbled back, struggling to keep the child securely in his arms.

“Christmas?” She bellowed. “What about my money?” The anger fell from her face for a moment as she remembered the ruse, and then returned in an instant, as she glared at the cult members, pointing over at the small boy in Andre’s arms who was peacefully snoozing, his little hands clasped tightly around a small teddy bear. “I mean… Tim’s money!”

There was silence from the others, but each of them nodded, defeated once again by April’s demanding nature. The crowd began to file out from the room, none brave enough to argue back, but all muttering under their breath as they walked to their quarters.

Everybody shared accommodation, with the exception of April, and as the members of her flock settled in for a cold Christmas Eve, away from April’s prying eyes, they shared a small, but satisfying dinner without her.

-x-

April spent her Christmas Eve in solitude. She enjoyed a long bubble bath before retiring to bed with her scriptures, and her tapes. The Garden had a long tradition of utilising strange recordings with subliminal messages to unlock their minds and their connection to their treasured Goddess Invierno, and as she had ascended to leadership, April had found herself less and less able to reach their treasured Goddess.

Too embarrassed to ask for help, she locked herself away instead, spending every evening in her room, lost in the sound of the tapes, and the hopes that she could find her way back to Invierno. As the clock struck twelve, April was already fast asleep. Had she been awake, she would have noticed the stereo suddenly fall silent, or perhaps she would have heard her window creak open slowly, maybe even have felt the air around her chill as wind whipped around the bedroom.

She was undisturbed by what was happening around her but her sleep was just shallow enough to be disturbed by soft fingertips that ran gently through her hair, with a tenderness that seemed so familiar.

“Merry Christmas April.” She jumped, shooting up from bed and looking around the room feverishly. There was almost silence throughout the room, but just behind April, back where she was afraid to look was a laboured, ragged breath. Slow and struggling. In and out.

“Who are you?” She already knew the answer, but she could not accept it. Despite the mysticism and far fetched ideas that she preached to the children of the Garden, the one thing April had never allowed herself to believe in was ghosts.

“You know who I am, April.” April had never allowed herself to believe in ghosts, and yet, just inches away, where she dreaded looking, was the one thing she could not believe in. “If you search within your heart, you know why I’m here.” April shuddered as a cold, clammy hand clamped down onto hers, but still, she would not look, closing her eyes tightly as the hand’s grip tightened. “She won’t come to you because of what she can see.” April didn’t want to believe, but she was surrounded by reminders of her mother, the strongest of which was the shallow, struggling breath just beyond view.

“Mother…” April watched her mother rise from the bed beside her, pacing the room, so impossible, but so clear to her eyes.

“She stopped appearing to me too towards the end.” Celia walked into the path of the moonlight and April gasped, clasping her hands across her mouth as she saw the true horror of her mother’s face. The flesh hung loosely, a canvas of blood, scratches and bite marks.

April had never been able to face her mother’s corpse after her death, and now, on a moonlit Christmas Eve, she was seeing it for the first time, horrified and disgusted. Her eyes traced along the stems of the roses that were wrapped around the spectre’s wrists and up her neck, the sharp thorns piercing what was left of her flesh. “She came to me one last time as I lay dying at the Highland compound.” Celia leant against the window sill, drumming her fingers slowly on the ledge, the moonlight dancing across her gaunt face. “She told me that our children would be safe with you…”

April turned away, her throat tight as her mother continued, knowing that nothing good could come from the unwelcome visitor..

“You’ll meet a sticky end if you don’t keep the children safe.” She shrank, her mother towering over her as an icy wind whipped around the room.

“I’m trying, but…” Her mother glared in her direction and April fell silent, fear fluttering in the pit of her stomach.

“She’ll show you the way…” Celia whispered, wistfully watching the snow fall outside across the moonlit sky. “You’ll see.” April followed her mother’s gaze out to the snow swept garden, unsure how to respond to her mother’s warning, but as she turned back to where her mother had stood, she was astounded to see that she was alone.

Chilled to the bone, April glanced around the room in a panic, trying to make sense of what had occurred. Her mother was long dead, and her Goddess had abandoned her, but April had a feeling that both of them had more to say to her, on that fateful, forlorn Christmas Eve.

The girl was uneasy, but she was also incredibly tired, so as she lay back against her pillows, it wasn’t long before sleep overpowered her and she was lost in lonely dreams.

-x-

Her slumber was short, interrupted as the clock struck one and the snow continued to softly fall from the dark sky. She bolted awake, the air around her was frosty, her alarmed, hurried breath clouding in front of her as arms wrapped tightly around her. Her cries filled the room, but April’s isolation from the rest of her flock meant that none of them would ever hear her.

She struggled against the arms, but there was no escape, and after a moment, her panic faded, and there was a warmth that felt familiar, welcome, even.

“Daddy?” The arms around her squeezed gently, and she slowly opened her eyes, turning behind her to see yet another impossible sight on that Christmas Eve, her long dead father. Their eyes had not met since she was seven years old, and now, an equal to the man who once towered over her, her eyes filled with tears as she fell into his embrace once again.

“We don’t have much time, Princess.” The man was just as she remembered him. She had been spared the sight of his face at the funeral, the gaunt skin, cuts, bruises and violence of her mother, so he came to her in a calming vision, just as she remembered him, and just as she needed him to be. “There is so much for you to see.” He stood from the bed, pulling her to her feet with him, and strode towards the window, April pulling back as he pushed it opened and the freezing air of the night flew at her face.

“Daddy, I’ll fall!” Her father chuckled, placing a kiss on her forehead as he captured her in his strong arms once again, and leapt, carrying both of them from the window. April scrunched her eyes tightly shut and let out another scream that was destined to be heard by nobody but the two of them, as the wind whipped quickly around them.

April fell against the soft snow, her father rushing her to her feet as sunlight poured from the sky. April surveyed the scene, the old front garden that she’d spent so much of her childhood in spread out before her. The street was lit up with bright and beautiful lights, and on the lawn before the place she had called home for much of her life was a small girl.

The child was alone, sitting in the snow, surrounded by dolls. Her dark hair was plaited on each side of her head, and her young face was filled with a sadness far beyond her years.

“You should go inside, kid…” April knelt before the girl, her heart heavy as she watched the girl play in solitude. The girl didn’t seem to notice, and April snapped her fingers in front of the child’s face, trying feverishly to get her attention.

“Nobody can see or hear you, Princess.” Her father whispered, pulling her back from the isolated child. “This was the first Christmas where you were truly alone.” April recognised herself, and she recognised the loneliness that surrounded her. After her father had died, her mother was wrapped up in doing Invierno’s bidding, so April was all alone, for the first time.

“Everyone had a tough childhood Daddy, it’s no big deal.” Her father frowned, taking her hand once again as they walked together into a bright curtain of light, emerging on the other side in another familiar setting.

“Back then, you lost the Christmas spirit, but here’s where you found it again.” Her father gestured to the small living room that surrounded them, and April couldn’t help but smile at the memories it conjured. In the corner was a small Christmas tree, with a few neatly wrapped presents beneath it, and across the room was April, cradling a small child in her arms with a glimmering smile on her face. “I never got the chance to meet my Grandson.” There was a hint of sadness in her father’s voice as he spoke, but April didn’t respond, enchanted by the sight of her son, reaching up with his tiny little arms towards her smiling face.

“It’s just you and me, Adam.” April watched her younger self doting on her only child, and her stomach dropped. She knew the boy’s fate, and that she would never forgive herself for her part in it, but there was nothing to be done, for she found herself in a memory, with no way to change what had already come to pass.

“Don’t you see, April?” Her father chimed, pulling her away from the happy scene. “Christmas is best when you have someone to share the season with.” April was silent, storming away from her father, only to be pulled back into his arms a moment later. The man looked down at her with a smile. “I just wish I’d got to share more with you.” April returned his smile, silently wishing the same.

Far from where they stood, April could hear the distant din of bells. Her father glanced down with a glimmer of sadness in his eyes, and April watched as the man broke from her embrace and began to walk away. The room faded and they were surrounded by snow and the weakened sun, desperately trying to reach them.

The bells began to fill the air and the snow grew heavier all around her, her legs seeming to be even heavier as she trudged through the snow after her father.

“Daddy, don’t leave me.” The wind whistled in her ear as she chased after the man, blinded by the flurry of snow, but he was going somewhere that she could not follow, and there was someone else who would greet her, just moments later.

-x-

“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.

-x-

The lights began to flicker above her as the chilly air nipped at her skin once again, and as she wandered the empty hallway, further into the growing darkness, April felt fear forming inside of her once again. She had been afraid many times that night, but as she descended into the darkness and a hand gripped her own, she was beside herself.

“Who are you, spirit?” Her voice shook as much as her hands, but the spirit remained silent, leading her forwards as a dim light up ahead cut through the darkness and overwhelmed her anxious eyes.

“We’ll eat well at Christmas for once!” April rubbed her eyes, the meeting room of the Garden once again coming into view. “That spoiled cow is finally good for something…” Joanna crowed, and the crowd collapsed into gleeful laughter.

The room was full of her followers, all gathered in a circle at the centre of the room. April stepped forward, trying to see what had their attention, but the spirit pulled her back. She fell back in shock, seeing the spirit in full for the first time as it loomed over her. Its black cloak billowed behind it, a single, skeletal hand peeking from the fabric that gripped tightly around her own. Beneath his hood was an almost endless darkness, with nothing but icy, blue eyes that seemed familiar, yet unsettling.

“Spirit, what are they looking at?” April could not hide the apprehension in her voice, but the phantom was not moved, yanking her hand and pulling her away from the crowd towards the living quarters, ignoring her protests. “Spirit, tell me what’s going on.” April’s pleas fell on deaf ears, as they reached the small room that Father Andre, Gillian and Tim called home.

There was a nagging sense of dread burrowing into her stomach as the spirit threw the door open, and though she tried to look away, knowing somehow what she’d see, the spirit was insistent, pulling her head towards the room and forcing her to look.

“Don’t cry my angel, perhaps our Goddess will bless us again some day.” Andre wrapped his arms tightly around his wife as she wept, Tiny Tim’s tiny teddy bear clutched close to her chest.

“Where is Tim?” Truly, April knew the answer, but she asked all the same, hoping for some relief from the horrific realisations that were slowly beginning to surround her. The spirit would not speak, but he did not need to. Tim, like so many that had entered April’s life, was dead.

Tears burned at the corners of her eyes, as the spirit pulled her away and they fell back into darkness again. She had no time to cry, but did all the same as the spirit dragged her down the hallway and out the back door towards her mother’s grave.

The spirit sped her past her mother’s headstone, dragging her further up the garden, where another stone lay before her. It was covered in weeds, the stone cracked and dishevelled.

“I can change, Spirit, just give me a chance.” The spirit shook its head, pointing at the gravestone without a word, but April wouldn’t look. “Please Spirit, tell me that these things are not set in stone.” She sobbed as the spirit shoved her onto her knees beside the grave, pushing her face towards the lettering. Through her tears, she could just about make it out.

“April Jane Jefferson – Good Fucking Riddance.”

April wailed, falling against the stone as the snow fell around her. All the things she had collected, all the wealth, the furs, fine food and jewellery truly meant nothing, because April had nothing that mattered. Once again, she was alone, and this time, she had nobody to blame but herself. The weight of her guilt and regret cascaded around her, sinking deep like the heavy snow that littered the soft grass.

“Merry Christmas Mummy.” The spirit finally spoke, its voice, barely a whisper behind her as the icy wind stabbed at them. April turned to the spirit, peering into its hood, her heart pounding as its eyes, softening, a sweet, sapphire, met with her own.

“Adam…” The spirit lifted its hood, and while the skeletal frame that stood before her did not resemble him, the eyes that lay within the skull, all that was left of him when Invierno had finished with him, told her all that she needed to know. “Adam, my baby boy…” He did not speak, only looking down at her with disgust as she wept hysterically, clinging to what remained of the boy who never got to become a man, her only son, and the only person she had ever truly loved.

She broke down all at once. She couldn’t help it. If this was to be the future, then she would give up anything in the present, and forever regret the past to avoid it. Thrown from her spectral son’s side, she fell down towards the ground, crying out in pain and devastation, as the sky grew dark and dismal once more, with not a star to be seen.

Her eyes were tightly closed, and the air around her, tepid and cruel, but around her body, she could no longer feel the snow, only the softness of her bed sheets.

“Merry Christmas, April.” Her eyes snapped open as she recognised a voice that had eluded her for months as she had descended into selfishness. Over by the window, atop the window sill was a potted rose, blooming and beautiful. April rushed towards it, clutching the pot close to her heart with a grin, knowing that her treasured Goddess Invierno once again deemed her worthy of attention.

She pulled her dressing gown around her body and grabbed the rose, bolting down the hallway to the other half of the house where her followers resided. Bursting into the girl’s bedroom, she leapt onto the bed shared by Joanna and Leigh, jumping for joy as the two women woke with a grumble, glaring up at her.

“Invierno sent us a sign!” She screamed, collapsing between them with a bright smile, pushing the rose towards them. “Oh, my sisters, we must celebrate!” She turned to the others, standing from the bed and dancing between the beds, displaying the rose proudly.

“We don’t have time, if we’re going to hit the streets, April…” Joanna interjected meekly, a little confused by April’s sudden shift in mood. “We need the money for Tim’s medicine.” April shook her head, offering a hand to a reluctant Joanna and pulling her out of bed, back towards her own room, followed by the rest of the women of the Garden.

“Take this and go to the pharmacy on the high street.” April cried, shoving a large pile of money into Joanna’s hands. The woman looked back at her in shock. “Look, I know it was wrong for me to keep it for myself, so… get yourself something nice too while you’re there.” Joanna frowned, but Leigh shook her head at her lover, taking her hand and leading her from the room as the other women crowded around April. “In fact, tomorrow, we’re all going shopping, because you guys deserve some gifts.” The surrounding crowd let out a cheer as April motioned for them to follow her down to the kitchen.

Christmas cheer filled the house as the daughters of the Garden of The Free Children watched April unlock her personal refrigerator and begin passing out Christmas treats to prepare a feast. She left her sisters to begin preparing the food, running up the stairs towards Andre and Gillian’s room with a gleeful grin.

“Andre!” She bellowed, banging her fists wildly against the door as the men of the Garden descended from their room to see what the commotion was. “Get out here right now!” She shrieked, pounding against the door and almost falling through as a tired Andre opened the door with a frown.

“It isn’t even 6AM yet.” Gillian screamed into her pillow as Tim began to wail and Andre looked up apologetically at April.

“Downstairs! Now!” April barked, grabbing his hand and marching the helpless man down the stairs. Andre tried to offer up a response, stammering nervously under April’s glare, but there were no more words spoken between them before she pushed him into the kitchen and watched his face light up at what was unfolding before him. “Tim’s medicine will be here soon, and you won’t be working until he’s better.” Andre was speechless, which April didn’t mind. While she was changing and growing to embrace the spirit of Christmas, she was still a little too obsessed with the sound of her own voice.

“Goddess bless us.” Andre whispered, taking April’s hand in his own and squeezing it gently. “Goddess bless us, everyone.”

April truly was changing, and it lasted long beyond Christmas. She was true to her word on all of her promises, sharing her Christmas feast with her followers, and spoiling them with gifts the next day in the sales. She opened up her wing of the house so that the children of the Garden could have their own bedrooms and dedicated her life to caring for Tim, as well as all the children left in her care by the treasured Goddess Invierno, both young and old alike.

She had no further visits with spirits and phantoms, and it was always said of her that April knew how to keep Christmas well, if anyone possessed the knowledge. The Garden remained isolated from the outside world, but inside of it, the children were surrounded by warmth and always grateful for their leader.

And so, as Tiny Tim’s father observed, Goddess bless us, everyone!

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