Confessions of a Halloween-aholic . . .
It started with a simple carved pumpkin and a wobbly stroller along crowded and sometimes scary sidewalks when too young to make that dash to the doorway.
I LOVE Halloween! It’s been my favorite holiday since spreading that treasure trove of candy across the rug in search of that ONE piece we could have after trudging the usually rainy evening streets of our neighborhood in homemade costumes. The scent of crisp autumn air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the ding-dong of anticipation, the rustling of that caloric bounty hitting the bottom of the pillowcase – delightful!
In later years, (when told we were “too old” to participate) the door bell ringing, the cries of “Trick-or-Treat!” and greedy bags thrust out in front of ghoulish or cartoonish faces brought back that rush of excitement. Then, when I became a home dweller with my own front porch, everything changed. I became a . . . Halloween-aholic.
The symptoms weren’t easy to spot at first. Just a string of pumpkin lights along a railing and a ceramic Jack-o-lantern’s flashing light for year one. In year two (thanks to Son working at a Halloween store with an employee discount!) came the first three buildings of Halloween Town (I should have known better after my addiction to my Christmas Village!) and a huge gauze-trailing Pumpkin Head stretching across the ceiling. The third and fourth year, my addiction ran wild.
Suddenly every available space in our street-facing dining room was covered with the macabre! Even huge faux spiders (my all-consuming phobia!) climbed the porch rails and window sills while eerie wails and moans from my now massive village filled the air! Every available space screamed of All Hollow’s Eve, from my workplace to the pets, and even my nails! I was out of control!
When did I start storing more orange tubs than red and green in the basement?
This year should be epic! When prices dropped at son’s place of employment, three carts full of horrific delights followed me home but never got displayed because – sigh, Michigan. Cold, bitter wind and rain ruined 2019. So, 2020, with or without Trick-or-Treaters, will begin with a groan and end in a howl from our front lawn graveyard, complete with tombstones, gates, and fog. It’s going to be Spooktacular!
I’d better get more orange tubs!
Max hadn’t visited that dark portion of his past for a very long time. Why now? Because of the life his mate carried? Or were the dangerous shadows of unfinished business reaching out from a swampy grave, a reminder of things he’d rather forget?
A rocking chair’s familiar creak. He tensed and twisted anxiously in the throes of his dream. Icy fingers of caution and loss clutched his chest as eyes darted behind closed lids. Unable to deny his desire to look again upon the worn elegance of his mother’s features, he faced his dread the way he’d addressed his life, with a cautious, reluctant need to know the truth . . . of who and what he was.
Shadows, like those long-ago secrets, hung thick, revealing little of the dark head bent over the child Marie Savoie held in arms both protective and comforting. Max wished she’d look up to feed time-starved memories, craving the gentle curve of her smile and loving warmth in her gaze. He settled for the steadying croon of a voice from the past.
“What is it, Max? Another bad dream? They can’t harm you.”
As much as he loved her, then and now, he’d never quite believed that assurance. Bad things existed beyond the rusty gate imprisoning his youthful curiosity within their overgrown yard for the first five years of his life. He knew because he was one of them, a child of the unnatural world. All he’d wanted was to find his place within it. But his mother had hidden that knowledge from him, just as she’d kept the outside away for as long as she could
“Mama, what’s wrong with me?” that small voice sobbed.
The rocker continued to complain as she stroked the child’s black hair. Her tender gesture failed to calm either boy or the man he’d become.
“Nothing’s wrong with you, Max. You’re perfect. They just don’t understand, so they fear you. That’s why you must be careful to never let them see the truth.”
“What truth?” he’d pleaded. “Mama, tell me!”
Low and soft, Max repeated from where he watched, decades away, “Mama, tell me.”
She brushed a kiss across the top of the child’s flushed brow then slowly straightened, turning toward Max Savoie, a surreal voyeur from the future she’d never see. Her gaze swam with tears like liquid silver before flaring bright, then hot.
“Max,” she crooned, “you’re just like me.”