“Come on, Ben. At least tell me you’ll think about it,” Katherine said. She recognized the unpleasant note to her tone, the wheedling quality she found distasteful in children and intolerable in adults. If she was going to have a meaningful, adult conversation with her husband, she was going to have to adjust both tone and her argument. “You’re behaving like a jerk,” she said.
Ben’s jaw dropped open.
“I want to go, and I want you to join me,” Katherine said. “End of discussion.”
“No,” Ben countered. “End of discussion.”
“You are assuming you wouldn’t enjoy the experience,” Katherine said.
“I don’t have to assume I wouldn’t enjoy spending Halloween in the cemetery,” Ben
said, “I can say, with certainty that I have no interest in doing so.”
“When is the last time you spent the holiday in the graveyard?” she challenged.
“You know I do not consider Halloween a holiday,” Ben said, forming air quotes to
“You know that I do,” Katherine said. “I adore holidays, and you know I always loved Halloween. I’m asking for a few hours of your time, Ben. Why are you insisting on being difficult?
“You are not naive, Katherine, but this is an area in which you lack experience. You do not understand how chaotic All Hallows Eve can be out there. Your attempt to compare All Hallows Eve to the childish celebration of Halloween demonstrates your gullibility. October thirty-first is not only about treats and harmless pranks,” he said.
“I’m not sure you understand how important this is to me,” Katherine argued. “And, by extension, how much it would mean to me if you agreed to do this with me.”
“You are impetuous, darling. I have no desire to see you suffer for your impulses. Trust me when I tell you it would be a mistake to participate in the chaos. Think what you will about me, but I promise you will thank me for my dissent.”
“You are being completely unreasonable,” Katherine said. “I am asking you to step outside of your comfort zone for one evening, Ben. Just one evening.”
“Asked and answered,” Ben said. “End of discussion.”
“You are being controlling, Ben. You know it doesn’t sit well with me when you
behave that way.”
“I am saving you from yourself.”
“When you care, or even pretend to care about things that are important to me, I feel loved and understood,” Katherine said.
Ben grimaced and said, “Poppycock, Katherine. You know the surest way to shut down a conversation with me is to fling flap-trap from your self-help gurus.”
Katherine crossed her arms and said. “I am, trying to communicate with you,
Benjamin. Why are you so resistant to an evening out?”
“Are you interpreting my unwillingness to feign interest in an inane and potentially regrettable activity an indication that I lack affection for you?” Ben countered.
Katherine executed a mental foot stomp. Ben was being a snot, and he was winning the argument through sheer logic. It irritated her when he did that. It irritated her more when he remained even tempered and unemotional while she, in the heat of an argument, wanted to throw herself to the ground kicking and screaming.
Could he not see that she was aching for a little innocent fun? She wanted to say “Don’t be an old fuddy-duddy. Ben,” which, of course, would be the wrong tact to
take. Name calling was childish and hurtful and because she knew, knew that irritating someone into giving you what you wanted only worked if both you and your opponent are under the age of 8 and hell-bent on wearing one another down. So, when she heard herself say, “Don’t be an old fuddy-duddy,” her jaw
to dropped open.
At another time, the look of astonishment on Ben’s face would have made her laugh.
At another time Ben, the peacemaker, would have heard the slight note of hysteria in her voice and, out of love he would have relented. He would have sighed, given her a hurt, puppy dog look and opened his arms to her so she could fall into them, shaking her head and apologizing for her unreasonable behavior.
But he resisting and she was desperate for Ben to appreciate her need to go
somewhere and do something. She was desperate to recapture, even only briefly, the freedom, the absolute abandon they enjoyed in their youth and beyond and she wanted him to want the same.
“Spending All Hallows Eve in the cemetery is not a declaration of my affection for you,” Ben said in the ‘let’s be reasonable tone’ that sometimes worked with her, but more often just made her head hurt and lead to pouting.
“But doing something just to make me happy would speak volumes about your love for me,” Katherine said.
“Why this?” Ben asked.
Katherine shrugged, frustrated by her inability to articulate, even to herself, why this thing which should have sounded too childish and pedestrian to consider felt like a linchpin in the framework of her future contentment.
She raised her hands, palms up, fingers spread. “When did we lose our sense of adventure, my love? Where are the free-spirited youngsters who would have done this without a second thought?
“We grew up, and we grew old, Ben said. “We spent our youth, Kat. There is no shame in the graceful acceptance of the aging process that has brought us here.”
“I’m not ready, Ben,” Katherine choked. “I’m just not ready to give it all up the way you have. Halloween is a chance to get out of here…to network with the others. You understand why that would appeal to me, don’t you? You understand why I want this?”
Ben opened his arms and Katherine fell into them, grateful for his company and even more grateful that he understood her as no one ever had. “You will come with me, on Halloween, right? We’ll spend a couple of hours in the cemetery, tip over a few
headstones, scare a couple of kids…”
Ben kissed the top of her head and whispered into her hair, “No, my darling.”
Katherine pulled away, stunned by Ben's continued resistance. “Why?” she
asked. “It’s one night. Not even a whole night. We would only be out there for a few hours. Why won’t you do this one thing for me?”
“Because, my dear Kat, this will not make you happy. You believe it will, but you’ve only been here a short time. You haven’t fully adjusted to your new circumstance
yet. When you do, you will realize that acceptance is the only path to peace.”
“Tomorrow night is the only chance we’ll have all year to step out of this place, Ben,” Katherine argued. She raised an arm and swept it through the stale air of the
space. “You can’t blame me for wanting to taste freedom. Even if only for a short time.”
“I don’t blame you,” Ben said, giving her a reassuring squeeze. “Trust me, darling, when I tell you that surrendering to temptation will only lead to greater pain.”
“You don’t know that,” she said.
“I do know," Ben said sadly. "I’ve been here for sixteen years. You have been here for six weeks.”
“And your point is?” she asked, bristling, again, at the suggestion that he knew better than she what was best.
“Acceptance is the path to peace, Kathrine. Going out there, even for a short time, will disrupt the assimilation process. Trust me darling, the sooner you accept your new circumstance, the easier this transition will become."
Katherine drifted over to the mausoleum window and stared out at the sweeping green lawns, at the trees bright with autumn crimsons and golds, and at the rows and rows of granite headstones. “I just want a night out,” she said softly.
“I know,” Ben said gently. “I know.”