The sponsors of the YA Indie Carnival have a wonderful topic - GREAT HALLOWEEN MEMORIES - to post this week. There were many haunted house horrors, carnival capers, and scavenger hunts which I could have shared. Instead, I settled on a story where I was surrounded by my loving family yet frightened to the core.
The Halloween most ingrained in my memories was one celebrated with my cousins when I was seven years old. My father went to work in Colorado and had to leave my mother, brother, two sisters, and me while living in a haunted farmhouse deep within the woods of central Louisiana.
The house creaked and moaned all night long, making us believe the former, dead owner roamed the house nonstop. It was so far away from civilization that 'lights out' meant ink black darkness. We didn't just think there were wild animals slinking around the forest near our new (old) house. Instead, we knew it. We'd seen the dead carcasses of mountain lions and scared each other with giant snake skins. We'd even heard the local hunters bragging about the size of the bears they'd encountered in the woods surrounding our home.
On this particular Halloween, all the kids dressed in their vampire, zombie, Frankenstein, and ghosts costumes and piled into my grandmother's station wagon. We drove miles and miles until we made it to the nearest small town. The wonderful people of that community were eager to share their Halloween candy, caramel apples, and popcorn balls, and we were happy to take them.
I can still remember the flickering candles burning within the creatively carved pumpkins, mamma's complaints of an allergic reaction from the stacks of hay, and the pause we took when coming face-to-face with a life-sized scarecrow drenched in 'bloody clothes'. We may have hesitated, but we didn't let any of those props stop us. We trick-or-treated like it was a competitive sport and relished in the victory of having the most candy in our bags. We had a great time...one to be cherished for a lifetime.
When we got home, the only lights were those from within the house. All the kids were high from the thrill of the evening and bounced from the sugar spiking our bloodstreams. My mother, grandmother, and aunt led us from the gravel parking area, through the dark, and toward the house. When we reached the porch, my mother used the light streaming from the window to find the key, so she could unlock the door.
We complained impatiently while she fumbled because we couldn't wait to run inside, dump the candy out side-by-side, and crown one person the winner of the Most Candy Contest. Suddenly, and without any sort of warning, a man flailing around his arms and wearing a mask jumped from behind us, roaring loud and long. His growl sounded worse because of the concert of new high pitched screams instantly joining his.
Seconds later, we realized it was my uncle. The fact that our 'ghost' was my uncle and not a real threat did little to calm my sister who had been so frightened she erupted into tears and dropped her bucket of candy. Of course, my uncle felt horrible after he realized how badly he'd terrified all of us (including the adults), but I can honestly say his lack of good sense gave me a story worth sharing.