I had so much fun plunging back in the world of Oh. My. Gods. and especially coming up with a modern version of an ancient Greek holiday.
The festival of Haloa honored Demeter, Dionysus, and Poseidon to celebrate the harvest. Some sources claim it was predominantly (if not exclusively) a women’s festival, which I thought would be perfect for the story I wanted to tell.
Adara Spencer isn’t having the best year ever, and the prospect of a snowy, lonely Haloa isn’t about to make it any better.
Adara hadn’t bothered to set an alarm.
It still seemed early when she woke up. The sunlight filtering in through her dorm window seemed hazy, as if it were passing through a fog.
Then again, it was the heart of winter. Mornings began later and days ended sooner.
A quick check of her clock revealed that it was later than she thought.
She lay on her bed for a long time staring at the ceiling. She had lived in the same dorm room for the last four years, ever since she moved into the upper school dorm. It was more her home than any she had ever occupied at her parents’ house. She knew every crack and stain and texture in the ceiling by heart.
Recently, she had spent even more time staring at the plaster ceiling.
After a few minutes of mentally debating whether to roll over and go back to sleep, Adara sat up in bed. She was surprised to realize that she actually felt a little better. Like maybe, for the first time in a very long time, she was looking forward to the day.
She was not so naive as to believe that anything in her life had changed. There were no signs that the goddess had visited her in the night. The countdown app on her phone still read twenty-four years, five months, nineteen days. Her mother was still gone, and Adara was still alone.
The change was entirely on the inside. An attitude shift. The time for moping was over. It was time to start living again.
Adara climbed out of bed and went down the hall to the bathroom. A few minutes later she returned, with her face washed, her teeth brushed, and ready to take on the day.
She didn’t have a plan. She only knew that she would start with a centering yoga practice. Then she would figure it out.
She changed into her yoga clothes and then crossed over to the window. The room could use a little more light.
But as she drew open the curtains, her heart sank.
The view from her window looked out over the campus quad. Where yesterday there had been a field of green grass, today all traces of green were gone. The entire campus was covered in a dusting of white powder.
Serfopoula never got snow. Not in the dozen years that she had been attending school here. Not, as far as she knew, in the entire fifteen-hundred-year inhabited history of the island. And yet, despite centuries of precedent, a thin layer a fluffy white covered every surface that she could see.
That shouldn’t have made her sad, but it did.
Others might rejoice at the promise of a white holiday. Christmas was over, but the Haloa festival of Poseidon was still in full swing. She was sure that many on the island would romanticize the snow. For Adara, it only made her think of last year’s winter break. When her world began to fall apart.
Her parents had surprised her with a skiing holiday. Two weeks spent in the Swiss Alps, racing down the slopes all day and sipping hot cocoa in front of the massive fireplace at night.
Everything had been perfect. It was the most blissful vacation of her life.
Then, after they got home, her mother announced her plans to become a handmaiden to Apollo. It was as if the entire vacation had been a lie. A bribe to make the horrible truth strike a softer blow.
Now the sight of snow made her think of that time. Not of the blissful mountain holiday, but of the life-changing announcement that came after.
Will Adara find some joy in the holiday season? Or is she destined to spend Haloa locked in her room, hiding from her friends and her grief? Go on Adara’s journey with her (and that of characters from the Forgive My Fins, Sweet Venom, and Darkly Fae worlds in other stories) in Myths and Mistletoe!