Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints
by Rachael K. Jones
My grandmother would have disapproved of a Tinker in a Father Christmas suit, my customary dress in the children’s hospital each December. She believed no good could come of frivolity in our profession, when a routine procedure could end in tragedy. I saw her point when I found myself delivering bad news in costume to a 7-year-old and her sick friend on Christmas Eve.
Maria wasn’t supposed to be in Lia’s hospital room to begin with. She should have been in the Puppet Ward with her little brother Enzo, who was infected with puppetism. Instead, the two young girls curled up cross-legged on the hospital bed, divvying up sweets I knew Lia shouldn’t eat in her condition. Congenital heart failure didn’t require abstention from sugar, but with her transfer imminent, the Coromancers advised against heavy food, as it could interfere with medical magic.
I didn’t know how she’d smuggled in the contraband, but that was Maria. It wasn’t easy for siblings of sick children, stuck in a hospital for days on end. Maria coped by slipping into all sorts of places she shouldn’t go. But on Christmas Eve, we all tended to look the other way.