“It was at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia that I founded a member group for sci fi, fantasy and horror writers to meet and support each other. It’s a fantastic group and they helped motivate me to write, edit and submit this piece. Winter holidays are usually such a happy time, I wanted to try and do something seasonal that was a lot darker. I’ve always liked the pagan tradition of bringing in evergreens to give nature spirits a place to live during the cold weather and this story really came out of that idea- manifesting the rituals into something a lot more sinister and corporeal. I find the loss of control and fear that comes with this setting quite unsettling”
by L.M. Ball
It always starts when the leaves change colour. At first they’re yellow, then golden before fading to a russet brown. I like the red ones the best, even though you could say they are the most obvious sign of what’s to come. They give you a rake and they tell you to make piles of the leaves. Your parents I mean, not the leaves. Though that wouldn’t be all that strange, considering. Sometimes when they aren’t watching we play in them, making big piles and knocking them over. It should be fun and it is, when you can forget that winter’s coming.
I think they started it all off, with the weird traditions, cutting down trees and bringing them indoors. Decorating everything in red and green, something about berries. Didn’t they notice that blood’s red too? Mamma says she remembers a time when winter was exciting, decorating a tree with glitter and ornaments to make it pretty. We don’t decorate our tree. Before, people believed that bringing foliage indoors was to provide a home for nature spirits, now that’s its purpose. I guess if you believe in something strongly enough, you can make it manifest. When the ornaments started to fall off by themselves and shatter on the floor, when it happened more than once, people started to notice. That’s what Mamma says. She said it was hard not to feel nervous that something else was going on when your entire tree had thrown off its decorations like an unwanted layer of skin.