How I Remember Halloween

By Barbara Robinson

Now it is October, and I am sitting at my desk looking out the window at the tire swing hung from the ancient oak growing at the edge of our yard. There are at least four other trees in the yard beside the oak, there is a willow tree; two elms, whose limbs will occasionally scrape against the screen of my room at night; and my favorite a pecan tree that gives us delicious nuts. We have the only home on a dead-end street so Halloween is just a lot of fun.

My family is preparing for Halloween which is only a few nights away with candied and toffee apples made and cooling on wax paper on cookie sheets awaiting eager lipsticked painted childrens’ mouths.

This year I am foregoing “Trick or Treat” after all I am thirteen and just way too mature for that kind of stuff. However I did not forgo the past two weekend horror movies featured at our local “Will Rogers Theater.” It just took a quarter to spend an entire afternoon at the theater being scared to death between mouths of popcorn or “Mary Janes.” Last Friday we were allowed to stay up late and watch a very frightening thriller, I think it was called “First Man Into Space.” I do know that the monster in this movie always hid under the bed and would wait and listen. It was when you swung your feet out to run to the bathroom or close the window that he would grab your legs and get you. Therefore, prudently I would ritually shine a flashlight under my bed before I climbed in, just in case. However, what would I do if there was a monster there?

I know I have an active imagination. I also know that we are indeed trying to put people in space; that there is a country that used to be called Transylvania and is now part of Romania; and there are people who claim to see unidentified flying things in the sky. I am also very aware the only roof access in our home is in the ceiling of my closet and that the only access to our home’s crawlspace was through my closet’s floor. Needless to say my closet was a no man’s land for me and for my Mom (Mom was a very well ordered person and my closet was not). I avoided entering the closet after dusk and kept it littered with shoe boxes and forgotten clothing as protection against the things that might live under my closet floor and try to creep through the crawlspace portal. I would sometimes even ponder ways of cluttering the closet ceiling with balloons, but I knew Dad would put his foot down as this was also the access to our precious attic fan. (Working attic fans were a real necessity during the Oklahoma summers)

The wind was picking up and the late afternoon sky was fading to evening darkness when after dinner Mom popped her head in my room, “You’re Dad and I are going to a meeting at church and won’t be home till after dark. Your brother and Jimmy are playing outside. The church number is by the phone.”

“Okay Mom,” I waved from my desk while contemplating my algebra homework and wondering what my brother’s Halloween Costume would be this year and whether he would share his Halloween loot with me?

I finished algebra and lay down on my bed to read. I jumped as I heard the distant crack of thunder and thought now might be a good time to do my under-bed check and make sure my closet door was secure. These nightly duties completed I started to the bathroom to brush my teeth and check that my brother and friend were safe inside the house as I heard the rain beating a brisk staccato on our roof. No worry, I heard the two boys laughing and yelling from inside my brother’s room. Hmm, I thought, wonder what those two will be doing for Halloween? I know they will be going “Trick or Treating” together, wonder if they will share any of their candies? Probably not. I haven’t seen my brother’s costume yet, it’s probably dorky.

I walk back to my room and flick the light off on my way to bed and notice the rain has stopped but the wind is still blowing and the elm tree right outside my window is restlessly scrapping on the screen. I think to myself very self-righteously how much trouble my brother and his friend will be in when my folks get home and find both boys still up.

Soon I drift off reassuring myself one more time that my closet door is closed. Suddenly I am awake again as a flash of lightning and terrific crash of thunder shakes my bed. Yes, in Oklahoma we have thunder that loud!

I pull the covers up and wonder how long I have been asleep and whether Mom and Dad are home yet? I listen for the rain, but it seems nothing is moving outside. Are the tornado sirens starting? I jump out of my bed and head toward my room door. Suddenly I hear, not sirens, but a strange banging outside one of my windows. It does not resemble the scrapping of tree branches but, as if someone is pounding on the glass! Then there is a slow mournful howling and again the glass resounds with a loud pounding.

Wait, if the window is being pounded what happened to the screen? Is my window locked? I’m not sure. In a panic I tear open the blinds and curtains trying to reach the window lock. Suddenly I’m looking through the window pane into the luminescent face of a green monster. Long dropping jowls with a face in a menacing grin! What can I do? I pull at the curtains and blinds as I back away from the window screaming.

I hear uproarious laughter coming from the outside of my window and Mom and Dad both in pajamas run into my room. We all turn to the window where we witness the green monster suddenly disappear in a clamor of hysterical hooting as my brother and friend drop the green Frankenstein mask and flashlight. They take off running but too late as my Dad had already turned on the yard light and we caught the culprits. Mom and I survey the torn blinds and curtains. Halloween was somewhat subdued that year, although I did get some of my brother’s candy.

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