Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Good to be Afraid-- 26, October


Here, now, the leafless trees swayed in the sun on a cool autumn day. The boy paid it no mind. He wished he knew how to summon Dullahan the way the scarecrow had. His friends were all holed up in Ms. Borsala's for the day. William had slipped out.

He had to know.

William turned the corner toward home and was greeted by a changed sight. The entire corn field had been harvested. The farm house, which normally would have been hidden by the golden rows, was a bleak shape at the top of a hill. A cool wind came up and rippled the grass around it.

William pressed onward. He became apprehensive as he crossed the field. The scarecrow had warned him that he could become trapped here. He had to shake the feeling off, though. If he didn't find out now, the fear would eat away at his sanity.

He went directly to a side window and peered into the kitchen. Nobody was around. Hesitantly, William moved to the back door and let his hand rest on the handle. Was he still allowed to do this? Now that he had left, would the bond of the family keep him out like the other creatures of the night?

As he pondered this, the door unlatched and swung inwards. He hadn't even turned the door handle.
This door opened into a pantry. To the left was the door to the kitchen. It was usually locked if nobody was home, but it opened before William just as easily as the exterior door had. He followed the open path around to the refrigerator, then stood before it.

He didn't even need to open it. This time, even the white box of the refrigerator could not prevent him from feeling the call of his old bones. Somewhere inside were boxes of stew containing his former flesh.
As he concentrated, William saw the handle of the fridge depress, and then the door swung wide. Sitting on the top shelf was the familiar white tupperware box, yellowed by the hideous contents inside. Concentrating still, he managed to make the box slide outward inch by inch, making the tiniest scraping sound on the metal shelf.

It was accompanied by a low squeal from somewhere behind. William looked over his shoulder and saw his sister. She had been sitting at the kitchen table the entire time, and he never noticed her. She had been coloring. Now she was staring at a fridge that had opened itself and a white box moving of its own volition. A tiny squeal was coming from her throat. She was too panic stricken to cry.

Then it came.
“MOOOOOOOOM!” she creamed. “The ghost, the ghost, the ghost!”

The words damned him over and over. William covered his ears, but they did no good. It was true. He was a ghost, and he was haunting his old home.

His mother came charging in from one door. His grandfather appeared almost simultaneously from the living room. They both stared at the fridge.

“There's no ghost, honey,” mom said, denying the truth in front of her.

William continued urging the container forward. They had to know. He knew it was scaring them, but the alternative was unbearable. He was still staring at his mother when there was a sloshing bang, and he knew the container had dropped to the floor. It didn't spill open.

He forced himself to look down at it. There was still a seal wrapped around it-- a brown fall ribbon reading “Good Treats for Eats.” Good news. His family hadn't eaten him yet.

Grandfather rushed over and retrieved the box from the floor.
“Where did you get this?” he asked.
“At the festival, dad,” his mom responded.
“Do you know who this is from?”

His mother ignored the question and tried to distract William's sister with the picture she had been coloring.
“It's from that witch!” grandfather continued on his own. “That old hag that lives on Schaffner Street. She's been peddling shady stuff since I was your kids' age.”

“Dad. . . Witches and ghosts. Halloween is really getting to you guys.”

Grandfather tossed the container into the trash.

“Dad!” Mother went to retrieve it.

As the two argued, William moved around to see what his sister had been coloring. It wasn't a picture from a coloring book like usual. It seemed she had drawn this one on her own. The bottom was a huge square of brown that must have been the ground. In the center was a line of green trees. Cut off midsection in the left margin was half a grave stone. In the middle of it all was a crudely drawn horse and buggy. Atop it was a boy with his arms thrust to the sky.

William looked closer. The coachman clearly had no head.

“I'm sorry I scared you,” William told his sister. “I'm watching out for you guys now. Can you tell them I'm okay?”

His sister stopped coloring and stared off into space. She didn't look at William, exactly, but she didn't look at anything else, either.

“I'll see all of you again, sometime, in a long time.”

William's mother had the white container, and she was carrying it across the room. “We're at least going to dispose of it properly,” she was telling grandfather. She broke the seal on the container, then dumped the contents into the sink. William watched as his remains swirled away down the garbage disposal.
“Tell them everything's alright,” he requested of his sister.

She didn't respond, but she made a final finishing touch on the drawing of the boy. She added two eyes and a smiling mouth.

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