by Amber Kizer
Juliet has lived at Dunklebarger (DG) since she was around six years old The “family home” houses the dying elderly and the young kids that don’t have anywhere else to go. Both are abused and used for government funding. When the kids turn 16, they are shipped off to boarding school for job training. Juliet feels alone as her supposed 16th birthday approaches.
Meridian and Tens have been on the road for over a month. They have been searching every nursing home in Indiana for the girl that has been nicknamed “Grim Reaper,” and her cat, hoping she is another Fenestra. Meridian makes Tens pull over because she is sick of constantly riding in the truck. They start arguing, but the tension is quickly alleviated. They go into a homey tea shop for lunch and are seated on a porch with glass globes hanging over them. The waitress points out that they are glowing and the couple wonders if it is because of Meridian. She shops around while waiting for food. when she returns to the table, Tens informs her that she is causing the glow.
Juliet is cooking in the kitchen when Bodie, a younger boy, comes to tell her the cat, Mini, is at Mrs. Mahoney’s bed. She makes an excuse to visit the old, dying woman. While sitting by her daydreaming, Mrs Mahoney passes on. Nicole comes along and asks what Juliet will cook for them, as she tends to do this every time someone dies.
When Meridian and Tens finish their meals, they go to pay at the register. The owner, Joi, offers them temporary jobs and a place to stay while they are in town. Meridian says they will stay a little while and Joi leads them out to the guest cottage. Tens wants to nap, but knows Meridian won’t be able to sleep. They go out to walk around town. She gets a bead feeling about statues that are all over town. They end up at the glassblower’s studio (where the globes were made). Meridian has a feeling just before they hear an ambulance. She is suddenly on the eiffel Tower with an old man. She tells him to look around for anyone he knows. meridian hears someone call her name.
When Meridian looks down, she sees Auntie trying to tell her something, but she can’t hear what. There is a girl with her that looks deformed. Meridian can’t get a good view before she is back in Tens’ arms trying to explain. She wants to go to a hospital to help a dying person pass so that she can see if Auntie is there again. They decide to visit the glass blower, Rumi, first. As soon as they walk in, he knows what they are. He explains his history and how he came to learn about the “soul stones” from his family. Some say they ward off demons (Aternocti) and some say the call the Fenestras to them. The light indicates a Fenestra is near. If they go dark, it implies the Aternocti are coming.
Juliet goes through the rest of her day trying to make things better for the other children. They all have “rooms” but are forced to sleep together in the attic. People have inquired about their situation, but they all know better than to tell the truth. Juliet is expected to wake up an hour early to make up for the time she lost sitting with Mrs. Mahoney. she crawls in a closet under the stairs to sleep while Nicole looks after the others. Mini is waiting for her and comforts her in her sleep.
Rumi understands that they don’t trust him enough to answer all of his questions. He offers to discreetly ask around for the girl and her cat that predict death. He gives them directions to the nearest hospital. Tens talks to the receptionist and finds out where the cancer ward is. They sneak up and souls start passing through Meridian. She sees Auntie, who tells her to ask Custos where to find Father Anthony. Meridian notices the hurt girl with her again. the next thing she knows, Tens is driving her back to the cottage behind the tea shop, Helios. He is upset that she keeps pushing herself too hard and is worried. She goes to sleep frustrated about her responsibilities and Tens’ lack of physical interest in her.
Tens violently thrashes in his sleep from a nightmare Meridian is able to wake him up and he explains that he saw a young couple. He watched them with his mom until his grandfather showed up, followed by the Aternocti. He decides to go for a run. In the morning, they both start working for Joi. Meridian cleans the upstairs rooms full of merchandise. She is particularly interested in the scrapbook room and puts together a page without thinking. She later realizes that is a possibility for how she deals with the souls going through her, but later realizes it doesn’t quite fit.
They talk over the possibilities of Meridian finding her “thing” and then get back to work. Joi notices that Meridian looks ill at the end of the day from pushing herself too hard and tells her to take the next day off. After a nap, she and Tens have dinner. He tells her about his run with Custos. The wolf kept tripping him and pinned him down until he noticed a gated estate.. he then noticed a large cat that made Custos calm down. They decide to check it out. tens goes on to tell her that she is not yet strong enough to work full time. He lied to Joi and said they are on a mission to find her birth parents to find out what is wrong with her.
Ms. Asura, the social worker, comes in for her semi-monthly visit to check on the children. Nicole warns Juliet that Ms. Asura is bad news. Just as Juliet is about to be truthful about what is going on, Mini appears behind the social worker’s head, seeming to tell Juliet not to trust the woman. Juliet pretends that everything is fine, saying that her physical ailments and the dead insects and animals have ceased. Ms. Asura gives Juliet a postcard from Kirian, a former fellow inmate that left DG three years ago. Juliet leaves the room and sends the kids that are moving on to a foster home to Ms. Asura.
Tens takes Meridian and Custos to the place where he saw the estate and the cat. They are wondering how to go about getting information when Bodie announces his presence from a tree. He asks why they are spying on them. Tens tells him that they are looking for a girl, but not to tell anyone. He agrees and tells them about the demon headmistress and to watch out for the mean ivy before he runs to Nicole’s call. They wonder if the headmistress is Aternocti.
Bodie comes to sleep in the closet with Juliet. He asks about her mother, but she doesn’t have any answers to give him. He tells her about his new friends and their wolf before falling asleep. The next morning, Nicole tries to convince Juliet to have some faith and hope. The most recent addition, Mr. Taylor has breathing issues. Juliet goes into his room to find Mistress upset that he is dying before “she” arrives. Juliet offers to take over and lets his misery end when Mistress leaves. Rumi comes to the door while Mistress is out. He invites the staff to his studio. Juliet burns the flyers after he leaves so she doesn’t get in trouble.
Rumi comes to the cottage to tell Meridian and Tens about Juliet. He invites them to a small gathering of people that can be trusted and offers them some of his nain’s (mom’s) paintings to look at after he leaves; the paintings are of soul’s windows. Before leaving, Rumi states his determination to help Juliet. Meridian and Tens return to where they found Bodie, but only find Minerva (Mini) the cat. When Tens touches her, she sends him information. She and Custos are from the Creator to help them. The creator also has someone helping Juliet, but a powerful Aternocti comes and goes as well. They need to meet back there early in the morning.
Meridian goes shopping while Tens recovers from his experience with Mini. They get dressed up and go to Rumi’s dinner party to meet Gus, Faye, Sidika, and Nelli. Gus tells Tens about the origins of his name (Tenskwatawa Valdes). Sidika tells them the story behind the Feast of Fireflies. When America was being settled, winters were very difficult. A boy went missing and a native american friend came to the father saying the fireflies will lead them to him. They do and he is surrounded by sources of food with his foot stuck in the ground. They free him and load up their sled with food. When they return back home, they invite everyone (including the Native Americans) to share the food. It lasted until the end of winter. The boy grew up to be a politician that advocated equality for all. Meridian thinks they should go t the festival.
Juliet is outside when Bodie runs out to tell her that Mistress returned early. She caught them with Ravioli and demands Juliet to beat them all with the cheese grater. She refuses and takes the beating from Mistress herself. Bodie apologizes several times and Juliet tries to assure him that he didn’t do anything wrong. He tells her Mr. Daniels needs her and she goes. She dreams of him telling her things and hearing her name until Nicole wakes her up. Mr. Daniels is dead. That night, she dreams of a blond woman that seems to love her and a tiny girl beckoning and reaching out to her.
Meridian wants to go meet Juliet without Tens, afraid that a crowd will be too much for the girl. Tens refuses and they get into a fight. They go back to the creek and Meridian gets a strange feeling. She knows Juliet is the one outside by the creek. They call out, trying to explain that they want to help her, but she runs away.
When Meridian and Tens get home, Joi is overly excited and scares Meridian. She has news about Father Anthony. She sends Tens to help Meridian, who looks ill. She starts asking him questions to see if their connection is two way. He explains that he has had visions of her since she was born. When a little girl, Becky, got seriously hurt at Meridian’s sixth birthday party, Tens told his mom about it. She sent him to live with her parents, who she also that were crazy.
Juliet is freaked out about seeing the tiny girl from her dream in person. She is not quite ready to tell Nicole about it. Mistress calls her to her office to let her know they will have three new guests. She has Juliet call Ms. Asura, who invites her out for coffee. It has already been arranged by Mistress, so she doesn’t have much of a choice. Nicole has a bad feeling about it, but Juliet thinks it is just about her placement when she turns 16 in a few days.
Meridian and Tens go to see Rumi to ask him about the writing on his mom’s drawings. he starts translating, but they get caught up on the mention of Fenestras being born on the summer solstice rather than winter. They ask Rumi if a lot of his family was born around then. He pulls out the family book and they count seven. He also shows them a smaller book, the diary of his uncle that no one seemed to know about. The man was twisted and they wonder if he is related to Fenestras or Aternocti.
Frustrated about the entire situation, Meridian finally gets up the courage to tell Tens how she feels. She explains hat he doesn’t seem to want her sexually. He tells her that he had sex with a woman to try gaining control over his visions, but it didn’t work and she stole everything from him. They agree that they don’t want to mess up their relationship and will wait until they are both ready. Custos brings them a note they had decided to ignore while talking. Joi found (former) Father Anthony, who now gives tours in Indianapolis. They decide to go see him.
They make it up to the museum and Father Anthony (Tony) recognizes Tens instantly. He tells them about how he me Tyee during the Vietnam war. When he returned to the states, he helped at an orphanage. When other priests were abusing children, he put a stop to it. He was asked to retire and has been helping people ever since. Meridian and Tens leave Tony with the promise to return. They get home, but Meridian feels odd when Tens cleans his guns and knives. She says they need to check on Juliet right away. On the way, she opens her window willing souls to her.
While Mistress is out gambling, Juliet starts looking for her file. Nicole helps and is able to complete a copy before Mistress returns. The old lady is distracted by meridian and Tens asking to use the phone, saying their car broke down at the boat camp. Nicole points out how sick Meridian looks and how Tens carries her away once they are back outside. Nicole gives Juliet a copy of her file.
Meridian convinces Tens that she is okay, but the souls she helped transition were not all old. Some where kids and teenagers. Bodie and Mini come running up to tell them to come back. He sneaks them into Juliet’s closet bedroom where she pictures the window. As souls cross, Auntie tells her to be patient and get Juliet to Tony. There is an Aternocti group nearby, so they need to be careful. Meridian wants to know why kids are crossing and Auntie mentions sacrifice and converting before she is gone. Meridian and Tens are stuck in the closet until Nicole comes to get them out. She tells them to avoid the poison ivy they went through to get in.
Nicole gives Juliet clothes that fit for her coffee date with Ms. Asura. She is picked up and they sit in a coffee shop discussing what Juliet wants to do with her life. She gets up the courage and admits that Mistress beats her, but Ms. Asura convinces her to retract the statement.
Joi and Rumi both offer assistance with Meridian and Tens’ rashes. Tony arrives and tells them more about how Tyee seemed to have a sixth sense about things before they happened. Josiah appeared to him from an alter with lotion for their rashes and a drawing from Sammy with a phone number.
Tens takes Meridian out to a field and teaches her how to shoot the smallest gun he has. when they get back home, Meridian is anxious. She starts working, but the feeling gets worse as the day goes on. She feels the need to go to Rumi’s studio open house. Tens has a bad feeling and they agree to use the back door. Gus is waiting there for them. Rumi told him to warn them that Meridian’s yin is inside.
They realize that Rumi means an Aternocti is inside. They wait awhile before going in. Rumi asks them to stay after everyone leaves so he can tell them about it. The soul stones darkened when a woman and teenage boy came in. She approached Rumi and told him to stay away from Juliet. Meridian tells him the truth about her and Tens. He knows it is dangerous, but he still wants to help them save Juliet. Back at the house, things start getting serious between meridian and Tens. Custos barks outside and Tens goes to check it out, saying he is going out for a run. Meridian hears their truck and goes to the window to see Tens driving away.
Juliet can’t sleep and goes down to the creek to read her file in a tree. Tens is there with Custos, which scares Juliet, making her drop her file in the creek. He tells her Meridian’s story up until present. Juliet is skeptical. Tens tells her that Bodie wants pancakes (which she knows he doesn’t like) and Nicole tells her that Bodie requested them. She gets an idea from the one page of file she was able to read. Nicole finds a polaroid camera, but Juliet is over exposed in every picture. Bodie is blurry. Nicole asks her what is going on.
When Tens returns, Custos has one of the pages from Juliet’s file that she dropped. Meridian is jealous that he left her to go see another girl in the middle of the night. They go to the festival to help Rumi set up as they promised. Tens finds other people to help while Meridian is with Rumi. She tells him about their fight and he shares about his mom. She asks to go with him when he says he is going to her grave. She tells Tens without giving him the chance to argue and leaves him behind.
Rumi shows Meridian gravestones with his parents’ artwork of windows. There are several other gravestones that look like windows. He shows her his parents’ elaborate gravestones and tells her how they appeared when he just ordered plain rectangular ones. meridian rushes home to tell Tens, but he isn’t there. Joi asks Meridian to come meet her friend who is turning 101. The old lady dies and joins her sons and husband who have been dead for 40 years. Auntie is there with the disfigured lady, who holds a sign. She is Juliet’s mother, who loves her and tried to protect her.
Meridian gets into the truck and heads to DG. Mini is waiting for her and leads her to a spot to hide. Ms Asura is scolding Kirian for coming to see Juliet. He has to convince her to leave with him. Ms. Asura promises that two of them will run away together after that. it will all start at the feast. They leave and Bodie comes along. Meridian gives him a message to Juliet about her mom. She goes home and calls her family, but only gets voicemail. Tens comes home and they forget why they are fighting. Meridian tells him everything.
Juliet is exhausted and taking care of the new elderly twins. She falls asleep on the toilet and Bodie wakes her up. he gives her the message from Meridian. Mistress finds her and leaves her in charge while she goes to the feast. Nicole hands Juliet a pioneer costume and tells her to go get answers from Meridian and Tens.
Juliet hitches a ride to the festival and finds Rumi. He gives her directions to Meridian and money for food. Meridian starts to explain, but Juliet thinks she is crazy. She runs and they follow. She evades them. In the crowd, there is a group dressed like priests. One looks like Kirian and one like Ms. Asura. Juliet thoughts are interrupted by explosions. People run away from them, but the group dressed as priests head toward them.
Meridian lets the souls that come to her through the window. When she wakes up, it is seven hours later and they are at Rumi’s studio. his table collapsed on him and Tens had to dig him out. Gus and Faye arrive to take him to the hospital. No one Knows if Juliet survived. Tens takes meridian home and they shower together in their clothes. Eventually they shed most of their clothing and share a moment.
Juliet hitches a ride close to DG and bathes in the creek. she is ready to float away when the other kids find her and bring her in. She gets dressed in her closet as Mistress arrives, complaining about Ms. Asura. In a mood, Mistress goes up to the elderly twins’ room. She gives pills to Enid, who is awake, and coma-like Glee is pumped full of morphine. When Mistress leaves, Enid spits out the pills. She, Nicole, and Juliet wait for Glee to die.
Meridian finally gets up the nerve to call her family. Her mom answers the phone and tries to apologize and explain. She is not ready to forgive her mom. She briefly talks to her dad before he puts Sammy on. Her little brother mentions that they are moving and getting new names. Her dad gets back on to explain that Josiah is setting this up. Sammy won’t remember her until he sees her again. Meridian realizes how to help Juliet.
Ms. Asura arrives to talk to Mistress. She tells Juliet that Kirian is waiting for her outside. She goes to meet him and he has a picnic set up for them. He acts differently and avoids her questions. He leaves and Nicole has news.
A storm starts up as Meridian and Tens wait for Tony to arrive. when he does, she shows him the journal. She says it is about Juliet, whom he happens to know. Meridian explains that he will bring back her memories. Joi comes in to tell them there is a tornado near and they have to get to the storm cellar.
Nicole thinks Ms. Asura did something to Mistress. When they check on her, she is dead. They decide to make a feast and let the night nurse handle it. They try to get Enid downstairs, but she isn’t mobile enough. THey notice Brodie and Sema are missing. Nicole goes out into the storm to look for them while Juliet tries to carry Enid to the storm cellar. Part of the roof is ripped off. A dark man appears.
Tens is ready to brave the storm to check on Juliet. Meridian points out that he is her protector, not Juliet’s. Tony talks to Tens and eventually, he comes over and tells her his story. He knows what it is like to be completely alone and in foster care. He knows Meridian is strong, but Juliet needs help. Meridian admits her jealousy. He points out that he can’t sense Juliet. The storm ends and the four of them go to find Juliet.
The man gets Juliet and Enid to the closet under the stairs. People are calling Juliet and Enid sends her out for help. Meridian runs up to her and the rest of the group follows. Juliet sees Tony and remembers her past before she faints.
Joi calls 9-1-1 for help while Meridian and Tens look for the other DG residence. Rumi arrives with a note from Ms. Asura. She wants to exchange Bodie and Sema for Juliet. They want to start planning, but Juliet and Tony need to be filled in on what is happening.
Tony tells Juliet her history. Her mother, Roshana, came to his church at a very young age. Tony waited for her to trust him and started helping her. After a while, he realized she was pregnant. Juliet was born on the spring equinox, but Roshana begged him to list a different date on her birth certificate. Roshana left Juliet behind and asked Tony to watch over her. He did and when Roshana returned, she asked him to find her a family or raise Juliet himself. She gave him a book of sonnets and a disc for her before her 16th birthday. He put them in a safe deposit box. A woman matching Ms. Asura’s description drives away, forcefully taking Roshana with her. Tony started raising Juliet and looking for a family. He was ready to leave the church and adopt her. He left her with a nun friend while he had to go to New York for a weekend. When he returned, the nun had died of a heart attack. A woman, again fitting Ms. Asura’s description, took Juliet. He kept looking for her. Juliet remembers and is happy to have Tony back in her life. As they start to discuss next steps, Kirian calls asking for Juliet.
Kirian asks Juliet to meet him alone. The kids will be set free and they can be together. He hangs up. They realize that Ms. Asura and Kirian still don’t know her actual birthday and start planning. Meridian takes Juliet to the bathroom. She starts telling Meridian about her relationship with Kirian and how he has to love her. Meridian tells her she heard Ms. Asura and Kirian talking about him “being Romeo.” Juliet explains that she lost her virginity to Kirian just before her left the DG. Meridian promises Juliet that she is not alone.
Rumi plays the song “Juliet” by the B-52s. THey listen a few times, dancing and relaxing. Juliet asks about the plan.
Juliet goes to the meeting with everyone hidden. Kirian runs to greet her and tells her to run when he tells her to. Ms. Asura comes along and the Ivy seems to start strangling him by itself. Ms. Asura tries to get Juliet to join her side. Juliet is joined by her friends, who are wearing soul stones. Nicole also arrives. Meridian and Juliet are in Meridian’s room with the window. Kirian tells Juliet he loved her before he crosses. Ms. Asura is hurt by their combined light and runs away. Fireflies lead them to Bodie and Sema.
Juliet and Tony move to town. She and Meridian will work to make sure Juliet survives her birthday. Bodie, Sema, and Enid were taking in by Joi (who knows the whole story). Nelli has been helping to uncover four generations of missing children. Meridian and Tens have their work cut out for them.