Winter Solstice

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Winter Solstice

Death and rebirth is one of the most notable themes in Bone Island. A way to honor this theme, the town of Weeping Hollow experiences a string of days that only last for six hours. A never-ending Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year and a celebration of the sun's rebirth. For the witches of Weeping Hollow, it is a time for transformation, new beginnings, and creativity. But with short days comes long spells of darkness. 

We are choking if not re-inventing ourselves.

Making mistakes, learning, taking risks, and growing is breathing. It is moving forward and breaking the chains of what is safe, stagnant, and still. Just like a tree, our roots will continue to grow, even if we've been plucked at, broken in half, cut down to the stump. Though, just like a tree, if we lose energy, passion, and momentum—if our roots stop growing—we will eventually wither away and become a shell of ourselves. 

It is not a coincidence the shortest day comes at the tail end of one year before the start of another. We are not alone in this new cycle as the earth, the sun, and the moon are moving along with us. It is our purpose to become better versions of ourselves. To look our past selves in the mirror without feeling guilt, apology, or shame.

All in all, December is the time to shed our old habits and reinvent ourselves into the kind of person we strive to be. And most importantly, surround ourselves with others who are doing the same. 

To celebrate Winter Solstice, below is a scene of Stone & Adora from Bone Island. This is perhaps one of my favorite scenes because it's the first time they had a meaningful conversation after a week of Stone being too scared to speak. The hesitation and caution on both ends is tangible but it doesn't stop them from opening up to each other.

There is something to be said about opening yourself up to a stranger with the assumption you'll never see them again.  







She was breathing hard, too, and I couldn’t help but watch how her breasts moved each time she took a breath. I wanted to know what it would feel like with her chest beneath my palm, the way her lungs caved and when they would fill again; other memories I would see of the girl I’d drawn so many times before. The wild that was her heart. 

Her ill-tempered eyes sailed to mine.

For a second, it was like staring at one of my drawings again.

I kept finding myself paralyzed by her, unsure how much time was passing.

My attention returned to the lighthouse as I tried to avoid eye contact with her, but it was impossible. Each time she was here, she surrounded me. Her eyes were bewitching, drawing me in until I had no choice but to see them. A presence that inhaled all the air around me until I had no choice but to breathe her in.

“People say creatures here don’t act as they should,” she said, her melodic voice speaking to me in a way that left me no choice but to listen. “In the books I’ve read, spiders don’t trust humans, and ravens don’t squawk at night. It’s different here.”

I cleared my throat. “Like how the days are shorter?”

She slung me a curious glance as she fed the fire. “It’s winter.” 

“Light appears at nine and dies at three. It doesn’t set but dies as though snuffed out by night. Even in winter, I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

The lady glanced away, refusing to acknowledge my claim.

Flames jumped to the top of the cave, and she turned toward me. 

“I brought you warm clothes.” She set the bag beside me, and it angered me that I was in this position to need clothes at all. 

“The clothes should fit just fine,” she continued. “There’s a coat and boots in the bag, too. And some socks. They’re my dad’s, but you need them more than he does. He has plenty.” She crouched down before me, stealing my gaze. The length of her dress pooled in the sand around her feet. “You don’t have to eat my food, but at least wear the clothes. You’ll get sick if you don’t.” 

I spared a moment, letting myself take her in.

She was beautiful, a porcelain ocean, with silver hoops crawling up the shells of her ears and jewelry lining her agile wrists. I lowered my eyes, following the gentle curve of her neck, collarbone, and chest, where a chain hung between her round breasts. The prongs held nothing in the setting.

There was a strangeness in seeing the face my mind had always turned to.

I was always intimate with the way she looked back at me.

Like how she was looking at me this very moment. 

She smoothed her dress around her bent knees, and her long golden hair fell around her shoulders and arms as she reached out her hand. “How’s it healing? Let me take a look.” 

At this, Mother’s haunting laugh shivered through me. A grating sound.

I pulled away. The lady was only trying to help, and I was retreating.

She sighed when she said, “Do you think that maybe we could start over?”

My gaze found hers again. 

“I’m Circe.” Two light jade eyes shifted between mine, and she lowered them with a nudge, hinting at the bandage wrapped around my waist. She offered a smile. There was a desire within me to keep her here. 

I wanted to continue hearing her voice.

I wanted to continue looking at her.

“Like in the story,” I said, afraid of saying anything more that would easily offend her. 

But Circe smiled. “You’ve been listening.” She glanced sideways at the leather book poking out of the bag she’d brought. “My mother wrote the book,” she explained, sadness soaking her voice. “I hadn’t had the courage to read it until I found you.”

I studied her profile while I had the chance. “Daughter of the sun.”

She faced me again. “Hm?”

“Circe means daughter of the sun,” I repeated. 

The corner of her mouth jumped with quickness. “Well, I promise not to pull a knife on you today unless, of course, you give me a reason to do so. And if that’s the case, I know how to do it correctly this time.”

Leaning back, I allowed her to examine my tattered bandage that was still damp with blood.

“May I?” she asked, and I nodded.

When Circe unwrapped it, she darted a nervous glance up at me. “It’s been almost a week, and it’s still bleeding. I don’t get it.” She shook her head, her mind benumbed. “For some reason, you’re not healing.”

Circe’s fingers lingered across the sensitive, bruised skin on my side, tracing the colors of my stomach, and I couldn’t speak. Her touch was delicate, light, and intense for a man who’d hardly been touched at all.

I closed my eyes, trying to control myself from reacting.
Then Circe pulled her hand away and shuffled to her bag.
I stayed quiet, watching her return to my side with a small jar and a metal box.

“I’ll need to stitch you up to stop the bleeding. It won’t feel pleasant,” Circe said, soft and careful. “I wish I had something to numb the pain.”

“Why do you choose to help me?” My voice sounded like it didn’t belong to me. It sounded confused. Perhaps at the lengths she’d taken for me when I’d done nothing to deserve her assistance.

Circe bit into her bottom lip in deep thought, the jar twisting in her hands. She was nervous as was I. Then finally—“Just because a ship is inside a glass bottle does not mean it is safer than a ship at sea. Anyone could pluck it right out. Not all at once, though. It will be piece by piece until there is nothing left.” She paused and sucked in a breath as though she’d taken a blow to the chest. “At least the ship at sea has a chance to sail away.” Her fingers stopped when her eyes met mine, and she lifted a shoulder. “You’re my sailing away.”

A long bout of silence stretched. It had taken longer than it should to process Circe’s words, and it occurred to me that she’d revealed more than I’d expected and more than she may have wanted. But there was a sameness between us— something I had never had with anyone else. We had both been trapped in places where we couldn’t come up for air.

“What are you sailing away from?”

Circe opened the jar and dipped her finger inside, unwilling to answer.

I remained quiet with her refusal, trying to steady my breath and the jagged rise of my stomach as she spread the ointment across my skin. Her touch was gentle but also felt like she was flaying me open. I glanced down, and at the ends of her lilac half-moon-shaped fingernails, there was a silver star. They were odd—a decoration on fingers I’d never seen before. And when she held the needle over the fire, I caught sight of four small stab-like wounds on the inside of her palm. Perhaps she was trying to sail away from herself.

Circe’s fingers shook, and the needle dropped into the sand. She leaned over, swiping hair from her eyes, and plucked the needle from the ground. 

“Sorry,” she hesitated. “I’ve sewn over a hundred dresses but never sutured a wound. This is a first for me.”

She was endearing when disconcerted. “You must clean the sand off your hands,” I instructed. “And now the needle, too.”

“Right, of course.” She grabbed a bottle and doused her hands and the needle in water. Afterward, she brought the needle to the fire again and threaded another string.

Then she settled herself between my spread thighs, and her eyes met mine. We gazed at each other candidly, openly. Time was strangely suspended. Nothing had prepared me for this moment, for someone to feel safe enough to be this close to me. Nothing had prepared me to be face-to-face with a woman who made my heart beat out of my chest. It was easy to allow myself to be penetrated by her when my entire body locked up under her gaze, and to penetrate her because she wasn’t pulling away.

When she lowered her eyes, I dropped my head back, freeing a breath.

“I’ve gotten my ears pierced four times now,” she said, and I flinched when she laid a warm hand on my side. “It’s easier when you’re touched first by a hand than by a needle. It’s not as shocking when the needle comes.”

I swallowed and kept my head back, looking at the roof of the cave as the pad of her thumb stroked the other side of my stomach. She didn't know I was more familiar with the feeling of something sharp than soft. I was more prone to a needle than a finger.

Her palm dragged across toward the wound, and when the needle pierced my flesh, I felt Circe’s eyes on my face. “Did you not feel that?”

“The needle piercing through my skin? Yes, I felt that.”

A soft laugh escaped her, and I lowered my head to see it. I hadn’t meant my words to be amusing, but she’d laughed all the same.

“Okay, Mr. Tough Guy,” she said, continuing to stitch the wound.

Then it was quiet between us. Though I could feel every sharp piercing of the needle driving into my flesh, all I could think of was Circe being entirely too close. While she concentrated on stitching my wound, I admired all her details. All the ones I’d gotten wrong in my drawings. The tiny baby hairs curled along her hairline, the freckle on her chest, the shape of her brows. As she moved around my torso, my skin thinned, causing everything to be more sensitive.

The next burn came, more painful this time, and I clenched my jaw.

She dared a glance at my face, and I should have looked away but couldn’t.

“I need you to talk to me,” I confessed through an exhale.

“Talk to you?”

“Yes, talk to me. You have a nice voice, so anything will do,” I admitted.

Circe’s mouth parted, but nothing came out. A small smile curved her lips, and she lowered her gaze and continued stitching.

I scanned her face. “Will you tell me why there are cries in the night?”

Her hand stopped briefly, but she didn’t look up at me this time before resuming. “Cries?” She shook her head, her hair like lazy ribbons of blonde silk falling around her striking features. “Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It must be the wind. Sometimes, the wind is so strong at night that it sounds like it’s screaming at the cliffs.” She smiled a small smile that was only hers and meant for no one else. “Maybe it wants to get out, too.” 

“You don’t like it here,” I said, more of an observation than a question.

“I didn’t say that. This is my home.”

“You said—”

“There are many ways one can feel imprisoned, Stone.”

My heart raced when she said my name.

I’d never met anyone like her, with a vault as a mind, everyone else an outsider. Between her lines were hidden meanings—none meant for me, but meanings I still somehow understood. She spoke with a tongue shaped like a secret, and I wondered if anyone had, or ever would have, the key to unlock them. Would I know her long enough to find out?

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