I have the most bizarre family in the world. My mother is one of the hostesses of heaven. She deals with spirits who are in shock about being dead; these are the new arrivals. I suppose you could call my mother an angel. My father works at the sky gate; he controls the entry into heaven and creates documents about each spirit, to explain why they are in heaven and not on trial with the Devil. I am their child, an angel in training. One day I am meant to replace one of my parents.

The thing you need to know about me is that I did not choose this path in life. If I’d had the option, I would be a normal girl, on earth. All my life I had been with dead spirits, and I felt that there was a lot of pressure placed on me. I started rebelling; but nobody knew what I’d done. I knew if they ever found out, I would be exiled from my family and the only home I’d ever known. Or worse, they could send me to work with the Devil. What I did became an addiction. I didn’t want to do it, but for some reason I kept on. When everyone was asleep, when the moon showed us its smiling face, I stole the souls of spirits. They would wait to enter Heaven’s gates, with these innocent and confused faces. As an angel in training, I’d been taught how to catch evil spirits, when they escaped from hell. We’re supposed to bottle them and that’s exactly what I did with the new arrivals. When everyone was asleep, I went to the place of the waiting spirits and then trapped them. I had my collection in my room. In each bottle there were about 20 spirits, and I had almost five full bottles. Maybe I was a little crazy, but if you were in my situation, you’d probably do something weird too.

It was about December, but I couldn’t be sure because we didn’t have dates or seasons yet. I woke up to feel a nip in the air, chilly but comfortable enough. For some reason that morning everything was quiet. Normally there were a lot of noisy spirits who needed help and my parents would speak loudly while they got ready for another day in heaven. I remained in my bed without moving for a few minutes, until I heard the Minister of Laws in Heaven and one of the Ministers of the new spirits. Both were in the council of heaven, with my parents.

I tiptoed down the hall to spy on my parents and council.

“But a thief of spirits! Who would do something like that!”

“And without our attention for four years! The poor spirits have probably been erased …”

“We have to find the thief. They’re going to be exiled for sure, it’s the worst crime possible!”

“Oh my goodness, what have I done …” I whispered before I prepared to go down the stairs to the kitchen, where the adults were talking.

“Good Morning!” I said loudly enough for them to notice me.

“Oh Hello Jessamine. Ella we’re going to leave now. Be careful and stay safe.”

“We need to get to the bottom of this!” my mother exclaimed.

“Why did they come here?” I asked as innocently as I could, once the council members had left.

“Oh nothing you need to worry about, go with your father now,” my mother replied.

I got ready for another day of what I thought was worse than hell.

My father just let me do what I wanted all day, he could see that I was deep in thought. The evening came too soon and I knew the clock was ticking too fast.

“I could sell them to the black market,” I thought to myself. “I could throw them into another house and then call the council.”

I paced my room for about thirty minutes to try to find a solution, until my mother called me for supper.

When everyone finished their meal, we disappeared into our rooms. I waited for my parents to fall asleep; laying in bed and look at my ceiling, covered in stars. I knew then how I would free my captured spirits.

I took a deep breath, grabbed the bottles and then I left quickly and silently. I walked for a long time, up to Heaven’s limit. It was the most magnificent view in the world, you could see all of earth below us, the plains of clouds we lived on and all the stars that throughout the years had become our friends. It’s amazing that this beautiful place came with my horrible feelings. I was so caught up by the beauty of the border that I did not notice the voices that approached behind me.

“There! The thief is there!” a loud voice shouted.

“Yes, I see her too!” another voice cried.

I turned to the voices and I saw all the council and the other spirits that had come to imprison me.

“It’s now or never,” I muttered to myself.

I dropped all five bottles. The moment was a blur. The council were approaching quickly and I prepared for them to take me.

My parents wept when they saw it was me, but I did not pay any attention to them. Instead, I stared in amazement at the spectacle of lights that appeared before me. As the bottles fell, they exploded into shards of shattered glass. The spirits were released; their reaction was the most beautiful moment in Heaven’s history. Oranges like fire, gold that resemble the sun, violet like flowers in spring, magenta like a sunset and turquoise as the ocean on a day where the sun reflects at the perfect point. They exploded like fireworks all around the sky. One after the other they burst. I was captivated and could not move. But reality woke me up when the council dragged me away in handcuffs. Then, everyone stopped. Slowly, everyone’s heads lifted up to look at the sky. Small white flecks started to fall, and trickled down slowly on us. It was the calm after the storm. The air had become much colder and everyone seemed to be confused. It was the ashes of the dead spirits. They fell little by little, but it was even more beautiful than the spectacle of lights. We had never seen anything like that before. But the dream had to come to an end. They dragged me away…

Down on earth, small children played in these white specks. The streets were filled with people, admiring this white glory that had covered their land. It was a beautiful sight; a wonderland.

From that day on, every year during the time that people call winter, the council release the elder spirits into this new found wonder called snow.