I know it’s them in my dream, my mother and sister, but only because I recognise their voices. We paint our cheeks pink, wear flowery dresses, go out into the garden. The sky is pale grey, the sun hidden behind clouds. Maybe I should be cold. I am not. Mother goes round the house, opening all the windows, and when she comes back outside, she whispers, ‘We must welcome our Spring Goddess with respect, so go clean the floors, and wash the sheets. Then, while I prepare an apple pie with goat cheese, pick me each a snowdrop, and tonight I’ll press them in my diary.’
On our little altar, decorated with white candles and dolls woven from reeds, I place three glasses of warm milk my sister has put fresh cinnamon powder in. What happens next is all a fog; I have passed out, but my ears are alert, like a wolf’s, and I hear things. Are the stars out tonight? I don’t know. If she doesn’t come to us, death might. Then I cough until my lungs are afraid of air.
And I have lost my mother’s and sister’s voices.
And I am blind.
Now awake and out of my dream, it is winter—the stillness of the lake disturbed only by my heartbeat. Before they seal my eyes with silver coins and cast me into the water, I hope I can see my mother and sister one last time.