How does your garden grow?

Like clockwork, the woman would arrive in the orphanage to play.

There was something about her that lessened the burden on Winter’s heart. Not the physical one, always there. That burden was lessened by the terrible tasting medicine she took every day. The woman made Summer smile and suddenly it didn’t matter where all of the children had come from. It didn’t matter what they had run away from. She had that reaction on just about all of them.

There were a few who remained wary. A girl about Summer’s age, who froze whenever anyone neared her, watched the woman with a distant form of curiosity. She replied, quiet yet firm, when the woman spoke to her. She did as any of the adults asked. Summer wanted to play with her and Winter wasn’t sure, because the girl named Dahlia was guarded by an aspect that was probably created by whatever made her face slightly crooked.

Then there was the boy she had dragged to Castlehaven in the first place. He spoke to no one, glaring at all attempts at conversation or even a nice gesture. If he hadn’t been so hungry, Winter was certain he would have snubbed the food as well, for spite’s sake.

With everyone that had come, everyone who had survived up until this point… These children didn’t have anything but what the people here gave them.

And then this woman would come.

Too tired to

Eventually Winter had to pick Summer up, because Summer sat down and refused to move. It was hard, but it was either that or leave her there and that was no option at all.

Occasionally there would be some other refugee. Sometimes one would try to talk to them. Winter didn’t know what to do, so she ran away, tugging Summer after her. Because if she made the wrong decision with the wrong person…

Summer eventually quietened. At that time, Winter felt like crying.

Behind them came more survivors.

And then their lives changed

Summer wouldn’t stop crying.

Winter didn’t know what to do. She could only imagine what ailed her sister, but imagination didn’t help. She was probably scared. Tired. Hungry. That would be enough. The squeeze in Winter’s chest when she considered their options was not caused by any of those things. It was caused by whatever had happened to her at birth.

Their parents had taken care of these things. Winter’s chest. Summer’s crying. Winter didn’t know how to deal with it, but to force Summer to keep walking.

If Summer would only demand to go home, to eat, to sleep, to something… Then at least Winter could tell her no. They couldn’t stop, or they’d freeze. They couldn’t go home, there was nothing there. They couldn’t eat, because they had nothing. Hunger clawed at her insides too. It made her forget about the three year old who wailed beside her.

Summer wouldn’t stop crying and Winter didn’t know what to do.

This was what their life had become.

Copycat

Winter reached for her glass the same time as Summer. She didn’t think much about it, except when she put her glass down and noticed it was at the same time as well. Summer usually didn’t sip, she gulped. Then she would pause and gulp more. While it was good she was learning…

Well, Winter wasn’t sure about that.

She turned her head to get a better look at her sister and Summer looked away. Then, trying to be sneaky, Summer glanced back, only to return to the same position. Winter contemplated, then lifted a hand. When Summer noticed, she did the same.

“Is this what we’re doing today?”

Thankfully, Summer wasn’t going to start parroting her words too. Winter got up and walked out of the room, her little sister following. Time to see all what Summer was willing to try like this.