Sunday, October 18, 2015


     Their house was always draped in shadows from the bushy black trees huddled around it, and when a blustery wind or breeze swirled past, it sounded like the wails of howling ghosts. They’d always shunned visitors of any kind, but this night was different, the sacred ritual called Hallows Eve, when they’d finally unlock their bolted front door.
     They’d been dreaming about it all year, a nocturnal reverie that was finally here. A blood red sun had just died outside, and a shimmering full moon was carving its way into the sky. Their front yard was mostly craggy black dirt, but tonight that was the look people preferred. Pumpkins glowed with fiery eyes and skeletons dangled from all the trees. Gravestones were scattered about, crooked and crumbling, smelling of death.
     Every year, for far longer than it was safe to admit, they’d made their home a Halloween house. They’d moved around a lot, but it was the one constant they’d clung to wherever they’d lived, a creepy calling card to summon visitors on this sacred night.
     Outside, giggling voices could already be heard, tiny ghouls and goblins clutching bags that would soon be filled with sugary treats. This was always a part of their dreams too, the excited flurry of padding feet, the chorus of high pitched laughter and squeals, all of it coming their
way. They hobbled down the stairs in their candle-lit house, holding wrinkled old hands, their ancient hearts thumping. They hadn’t talked about it, but they both knew this might be their last Halloween, and their shared sadness was darker than anything else. Their memories were all they had left of the way it used to be, way back in the forgotten past when fear and horror were real.
     There had always been monsters, but they’d had the good sense to stay where they belonged, hiding in the darkness and shadows until it was time to strike. But when you spend so much time hiding, you eventually lose your claim to be real, and that’s when all the myths and legends about their existence came into being. Make-believe stories replaced the terrifying reality of what was really there.  And now this was all they had left, just a single October eve when giggling children mimicked them for sugary treats.
     They’d spent the last hour putting on their costumes too, the bland and boring human disguises they wore only when absolutely necessary. Covering up their true form was a shameful process, but the world had become a very different place, and that’s what hurt most of all.
     The world had forgotten what a glorious creation a real monster was, a crusty and wicked apparition with misbegotten parts. A real monster had blood red eyes and spewed hot billows of ashen black smoke.
     But at least for tonight, they could imagine a different world that existed only in the howling nightscape of their dreams. They could pretend they didn’t have to hide anymore and were free to roam the human world as they pleased.
     And that’s what they did, as the giggling make-believe monsters banged their fists on their grimy front door. When they peered outside into the night, there were more scary creatures than horrible humans, and that warmed their black hearts.
     They looked like a tired old couple who should have stayed in bed on this Halloween night. Their hair was grey and stringy, their clothes dirty and drab, smelling faintly like smoke. But they handed out candy with their wrinkled old hands, because they didn’t want to miss the best part of the night. If this was going to be their last Halloween, they wanted it to be extra special. They waited until the very end, when there were just a few children left padding up to their door without any parents.
     Because the best part of Halloween was always when they squeaked the door open and showed one of the giggling make-believe monsters what a real monster was.

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