Every year on the day before Christmas, Aunt Vivian knocks merrily on the door. When asked where she’s been all year, she insists she never left. Time is just a dimension, Vivian says. Christmastime can be forever, if you want it to be. The children gather around her to hear stories, and she tells them that this dimension is the second-best she’s ever been to. The best one, she leans in and whispers, has way more coconuts in it. The children call her the time-travelling aunt. The grown-ups just call her the travelling aunt, and a quirky coconut.
Bernard hasn’t slept in years, so he has a lot of time on his hands, and he spends it cooking and reading conspiracy theories. He believes the Earth is flat. (Because so are pancakes.) He believes the ruling class are lizard people. (That’s why we don’t eat lizard, stupid.) The moon is a hologram. (Why else would it look like cheese?) And the recipe for perfect mocca muffins predict the end of the world. (Obviously!) Bernard is a bit intense, but he’s a sweet man, and he’s the best chef you’ll ever meet. His secret ingredient is coffee, he adds it to everything. Coffee is the only real cure for insomnia, (but they don’t want you to know that.).
Annabelle lives alone in an old house with an enormous berry garden. Some say, she’s lonely. In summer the village kids come after school and stuff themselves with berries. Some say, the kids steal from the weird lady’s garden. In winter, the mothers often visit for a cup of tea, and Annabelle always insists on giving them a jar of homemade jam. Some say, it is exploiding Annabelle’s generosity. People are fascinatingly different. Annabelle, for example, is a real sweetheart. And some; some are just cynics.
Bianca’s great-great grandfather was a hardworking man. He founded vanilla plantations, and had rich and lazy children. Her family has been rich and lazy ever since, but Bianca is industrious. She is only 23 and has 7 businesses. She owns a high-end clothing boutique called Bianca’s Closet (and that’s pretty much what it is). She also has a dog grooming salon and a sky bar. Bianca’s great with people and bad with numbers. Luckily, her accountant handles the latter. He calls her Vanilla Girl and says, she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Lloyd loves to talk about himself, but no one knows the first thing about him. He never tells the same story twice. He grew up poor. He grew up rich. An orphan. In a huge family. His father was a farmer. A financier. And growing up in the ghetto, he learned the life of a criminal. Or to be a virtuous man. He’s a man of pure mystery, so being a private eye is the most natural thing in the world for Lloyd. The only thing he doesn’t hide is his love of licorice. Everything else is in the dark.
Penny-Joan grew up with her mother. Her father was never mentioned, so she made him up. An unacknowledged painter. And as French as can be. She daydreamt of finding him. He would know, how much she loved caramel, because so did he. She moved to Paris to study arts, and maybe in search of her father. He wasn’t to be found, but she found a man just like him. An unsung artist who often went missing, and smooth-talked her when he returned. He never remembered where he had been, but he always remembered to bring back caramel.