Halloween and its Beauty

Story #9 in the I-Alice series.

While I was organizing the kitchen of our new home in the city, I plugged in the radio and soon the familiar radio announcer’s voice crowded out all the other foreign sounds. His voice comforted me in these unfamiliar surroundings.

“What did he say?” I asked the kitchen cupboards.

“Today is Halloween. Drive with care,” his bored voice droned on and on.

“Halloween!” I shrieked at the new-to-me walls and my voice immediately bounced back to mock me. How could I possibly cope with Halloween?  It was only yesterday that we moved here, only yesterday that I admitted my husband to the hospital leaving me here all alone. It was momentous for us to move from our isolated farm to the city. It wasn’t often that I’d driven in the city; Edwin usually did the driving. Would I be able to remember how to get to the hospital, and would I find my way back home?  All the streets around here had the name of Ross; he must have been some famous person around here. Everything was new and so many challenges were being hurled at me all too fast and now those dreaded spooks and goblins would be coming to my door. I’m expected to hand out Halloween treats to total strangers?

We never had costumed trick-or-treat people come to our farm. What could I hand out? There wasn’t a single treat in any of the boxes that were still sitting around partly unpacked. What would I give the scary witches and goblins when they come to my door tonight? Would they bring harm if I told them to scat, I have nothing?

The phone rang, another new sound that startled me. It was Dr. Laing. “Can you come to the hospital?” he said with a friendly voice. “Come by the desk. I want to show you the big stone I removed from your husband’s kidney.” His familiar voice comforted me.

I almost pleaded with him to stay on the line. As long as we were talking I wouldn’t have to back the car out of the garage. Never before had I done that. Then I recalled that the old farm truck loaded with furniture was parked on the driveway. Would it block my vision?

Finally I convinced myself that I had no choice but to go. I took a pad and pencil, and as I turned at each stop sign, I marked my trail. I’d need to get back before darkness fell.

I arrived at the hospital to find Dr. Laing still making his rounds. “Come with me,” he said proudly. “I want to show you the stone that caused all the pain.”

I followed him into Edwin’s room. Into the palm of my hand he placed a little stone. It was dark in color and to me it was anything but large. (I knew about stones and picking them on the fields at the farm.)

“You mean that’s all there was?”

The ghastly look on the doctor’s face immediately told me I had chosen the wrong words. My remark was not at all appreciated. I had undoubtedly crushed his ego when this should have been a time for triumph and praise, not ridicule.

I did find my way back to that ‘new’ house of ours and was feeling rather smug that I had managed. Then I pressed the button on the visor to open the automatic garage door. This was something I had only read about in magazines. It had pleased me that there was a store on the way home, (I wasn’t used to having one so close by), so I purchased a bag of 36 small chocolate bars. Smacking my lips, I hoped several would be left for me to devour after the tricksters had made their rounds. Then I realized I was feeling hungry in this spotless kitchen that was bigger than the one on the farm, but had no food in it.

Darkness settled in, the street lights came on. The night was different here. At the farm, when it was night, it was dark.

“Ding Dong! Ding Dong!

That’s the doorbell. I wondered which door the monsters were at. I froze in fear. I couldn’t bring myself to unlock it.

It rang again. I remembered the peep hole but saw no one. (The children were too short to be visible.) Cautiously I opened the door. The hinges needed to be oiled, more eery unfamiliar sounds.

Shaking I looked down and there in the enclosure stood two little girls dressed identically as Snow Whites, their toothless grins giggling with excitement.

“Oh,” I said even my voice sounding strange. “You look so —innocent—I mean cute—are you twins?”

“That’s what we are,” their laughter ringing in the foyer. “Trick or treat,” the two little voices rang out merrily. “Give us something to eat.”

I got caught up in the Halloween excitement as six more came, two came and then many more. Within an hour all my treats were gone but I was filled with the joy of giving.

Again the doorbell ran. I grabbed my piggy bank from the top of the fridge and spilled out the quarters I had saved over the years. “No more treats,” I sang out to the last groups. “Will a quarter each do?”

“Yahoo,” the youngsters yelled in appreciation as they jumped off the step and ran to the next house. Before half an hour had passed, I was minus a handful of quarters. As I looked more closely at the last of the tricksters, I realized that the four wrangling cowboys standing on my doorstep had been here before. Oh well. Quietly I bolted the doors and put out all the lights.

Now here I am so many years later. I’ve seen it all: the short and the tall, wicked witches, angels, singers, gigglers. Each year the drama unfolds on my doorstep; the beautiful and the ugly all play out their own make-believe character. Halloween’s much too short. I realize how each one warms my heart as I recall that dreaded night so long ago when my fear was unfounded and instead it became a magical night, and how it taught me the joy of giving.

“It’s finished,” I said to my elderly husband as I put my tired feet up on the footstool We began adding how many had come out tonight.

“Just a minute,” my husband mused. “Do I hear the front doorbell?”

It was almost 10:00 pm and my peaceful moment was disturbed. “Forget it,” I wanted to call out. “Don’t you know what time it is?”

But instead I once again rose from my comfortable chair and opened the door. It was my delight to see a young mother all aglow to show off her little one’s first Halloween costume. Such pride radiated from her young face as she held up her little pink bunny for me to see. Hours of work must have been spent on her child’s costume and here they were for my enjoyment. Little Bunny’s beet red nose was running but her eyes sparkled and her arms waved with excitement.

“Would the little bunny give this old granny a big hug?” I asked.

She flung open her fluffy fur-covered arms and squeezed me ever so lovingly. Her much-too-long bunny ears were flopping in my face. Joy again warmed my heart. Momentarily I too became a character, her granny. Maybe the little bundle’s grandma lived far away. The young mother’s face glowed with happiness.

“Your little one is so beautiful,” I gushed as I dropped the last of my Halloween treats into their empty bag.

The young mother sprinted away from our doorstep taking her own happy Halloween moments with her.

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