You offer hellebore for the dead, lilies for the newly dead, and tulips for the Maiden of the Second Skin. But only on the blood moon. Is it not right and just? I will tell you how.

First: they must have lasted the whole winter long, buried under the ground closest to permafrost. Nothing less will do. The flower is not risen from the tuber: the petals have not unfurled. No, nothing but the potential will do: but it must be there. The slumber of winter given way to the birth of spring.

Is not the Maiden of the Second Skin herself cast out of the growing and waiting? Listen. I will tell you how.

There are white baskets, yes? We carry the offerings in them, for the second skin was white. They will tell you white as snow. She laid in the ditch long enough for that.

We do not burn them, no. We bleach them, until they are tatters, and then we light the festal fire with them. Yes. Is it not right that like should burn with like? A basket is of great value, and we repair these with rags of cotton and silk. Until the handles go.

Yes, birch, peeling like the Maiden.

They left her there. Of course, there are hundreds of the unwanted left on hills the world over. Thousands. It is no different here. It is everything different here.

See now? We are almost to the fire. Remember, cup the bulb tenderly: oh so tenderly. You may give one a year, in the gaze of the Maiden. Listen, I will tell you how.

Let it slip gently into the flames. Yes, it will hurt. For a moment. Watch, I will show you how.

The difference, you see, is that she got up.

When you offer the tulips unflowered to the Maiden of the Second Skin, you must meet those dark caverns that are her eyes. Listen, I will tell you how. Unblinking.

They didn't leave anyone else in that ditch.

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