13 comments

Fiction Holiday Drama

I could barely remember the last time Beverly and I celebrated Halloween. Between churches frowning on pagan traditions, and rumors of poisoned candy and razor blades, we started skipping the holiday over the years, and just focused on Thanksgiving instead. The last time I asked my wife about giving out candy for the kids, she refused, explaining she could never look at costumes of witches and devils after she heard horror stories of children kidnapped for ritual abuse. She was afraid of attracting evil spirits. I never asked again.


The most my wife let me do was help our church set up the pumpkin smashing contest for the kids the weekend after Halloween. It was the pastor's idea, to gather leftover pumpkins from around the neighborhood, and let the children destroy them with wooden bats to create compost for the community garden. Of course, a lot of the pumpkins had to be cut up in advance, as we found out the first year we tried this with small children.


This year, Beverly surprised me when we met with our church group the Sunday before Halloween to plan the festivities the weekend after. Following tradition, the women's ministry had baked gingerbread and pumpkin cookies to give out as treats. Normally, Beverly would help with the baking but would never take any home to give away. This time, she asked me if she could.


"Rob, I know we don't usually do this. I want to make sure I have your blessing. But there is a man who just moved into the neighborhood. He recently went through a bitter divorce. And he has one little girl and some boys he's trying to raise by himself."


"No need to explain, my dear," I assured my wife. I knew she didn't believe in Halloween, and divorce was even more upsetting to her.


"The pastor tried to reach out to Mr. Brandon," she continued, "but he wouldn't respond or talk about it. I'm just worried about that poor girl! I can only imagine how much she misses her mother. If he takes them Trick-or-Treating, I want to have something nice to give those kids."


"That's fine, Bev. We can give out cookies this year. Like the other families."


I smiled and hugged Beverly, and promised I would help her. We held hands and prayed. She had her heart and mind set on making the Brandon family feel welcomed. I could only thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful wife, who always thought of other people.


* * * * *


On Halloween night, poor Beverly was nervous. It had been too many years since we last did this, and she was afraid to say the wrong thing.


"Honey, just let the kids say 'Trick or Treat.' Then you offer them cookies. You don't have to say anything about their costumes. Just say hello to their dad."


"That's what I'm afraid of. Please, Rob. Make sure you don't say anything about church, unless he says something first. The pastor said he didn't want to preached at. Okay?"


"You worry too much, dear. I won't say anything. I'll shake the man's hand and you let the kids grab some cookies. Are you sure they're coming?"


"Yes, Diane down the street helped the kids dress up. Only cute costumes, nothing spooky or creepy." Beverly arranged the cookies on a plate and placed them by the door.


An hour later, we finally heard knocks and shouts of "Trick-or-Treat!" Bev and I opened the door to find a tiny ballerina, a baseball player and a pirate on our front porch, escorted by Mr. Brandon and an embarrassed, sulking teenaged boy who obviously resented being there.


The same way Beverly just melted for the little ballerina, I immediately felt compassion for the oldest son. Divorce was always hard for boys at that age, and too many fathers ignored it, to avoid confrontation. I remembered my promise to Beverly I would be tactful.


Bev bent down to offer the plate of cookies to the little troopers. "What a beautiful ballerina! Here, would you like a pumpkin cookie? Or gingerbread?" The little girl smiled shyly, while her brothers quickly snatched up the treats.


"Wow! I see we also have an All-Star World Series champ. And a mighty pirate!" I added, smiling at them. I reached out my hand to Mr. Brandon, but he was too busy wrestling with his sons.


"Stop grabbing, Kevin, that's rude!" He looked at me, exasperated, "Sorry, the boys, they're -- Stop it, Justin! Or I'll whoop you when we get home! I'm sorry!"


"Don't apologize. It's Halloween. The costumes, the candy. Kids go a little crazy." I turned to Mr. Brandon, struggling to find the right words. "That's nice of you to bring your kids around. I know it's always more trouble than you plan for. I respect you taking the time."


The teenager hiding behind them was secretly poking Justin the pirate, teasing and scaring him.


"Stop screaming!" their father yelled.


"Hey, young man!" I said, trying my best to keep things pleasant. "Since we've got a baseball player here. Would you like to join us in smashing pumpkins this weekend?" Beverly shook her head a little and nudged me, but I kept going. "Each year, we let the neighborhood kids take turns bashing leftover pumpkins with bats. It makes a big mess, but we recycle everything for the local garden. Would you like to join us?"


Mr. Brandon asked, "This isn't with your church is it?"


"Well, that's one location where the Pumpkin Patch drops off their donations. But if you're not comfortable around that crowd, we can smash some on the corner lot, by the garden. It's all going to the same place anyway."


"Sure, I'll think about it," said Mr. Brandon, eager to herd the kids back home.


As they walked away, I watched his teenaged son lingering behind, keeping his distance.


"The kids will love it! Even your oldest son." I called out to Mr. Brandon. "Teenagers are welcome. He's invited, too!"


Mr. Brandon stopped dead in his tracks, turned around and glared at me.


"What did you say?"


"Uh, I was just saying this isn't only for the young children. The parents join in the fun. And the high school volunteers who set up the pumpkins and manage the bats. Your older son is welcome to come if he wants."


"How dare you!" Mr. Brandon came charging at me and landed a hard punch that almost broke my jaw.


The last thing I remember was slamming my head against the gate, where I passed out to the sound of Beverly screaming and kids crying.


* * * * *


I awoke in the hospital room, barely able to see out of my left eye.

Beverly and her church friends had formed a prayer circle at the foot of my bed. They all looked relieved.


"Sweetheart, it's going to be okay. You didn't know."


"Where -- What happened?" I had a pounding headache and felt dizzy.


"The pastor explained that Mr. Brandon's wife fled the state with their oldest son. She lost control on a bridge, and her car dove into the river." Bev held my hand. "The mother survived, but their teenage boy drowned. I'm sorry, honey, I told you not to say anything!"


"But I saw him! I saw his son standing there. He was --"


Beverly became flustered, and ushered the church women out of the room. "I'm sorry, Robert's still a bit delirious. He's babbling the same nonsense. Let me get the nurse."


The crowd parted, leaving behind a young man, lurking in the corner.


I felt my face turn white as a ghost, before I lost consciousness again.

October 22, 2020 05:46

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

13 comments

9 P🎈
16:37 Jul 27, 2021

Woah..........great story, I really didn't expect anything like that at the end but that was amazing, drove the entire story to another direction, and the storyline was also very interesting, especially the involvement of church and the way you kept everything based on Halloween...............awesome. I really enjoyed it :D super great work Emily👍 Would you like to read my stories? :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
03:36 Apr 28, 2021

I am a nightingale; I read and sing your stories in the flowering garden and all birds, firefly, fairy and flowers are smiling and very thankful to you for writing such an excellent story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Steve Stigler
16:44 Nov 01, 2020

This would be a great story to tell around a campfire late at night! I thoroughly enjoyed it- thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Roger Meachem
15:02 Oct 28, 2020

It's a well-written story; easy to read through, no spoilers, and a cracking good tale. I've a few queries: In the first para. Beverly is afraid of attracting evil spirits if she looks at witches' costumes and such? I didn't get the sense of why looking at or seeing the costumes might attract evil spirits. In the second para you write: 'Of course, a lot of the pumpkins had to be cut up in advance, as we found out the first year we tried this with small children.' I wondered if this might be better shown rather than told? And even more fun....

Reply

Emily Nghiem
06:05 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you for reading in depth and sharing such insightful comments and questions. (1) For those very sensitive about being obedient and faithful, even mentally tolerating the references, expression, and relationships with any such "dark energy" practices is opening the door for bad spirits or influences. Some people are tolerant while understanding not to mix the dark energy with the positive prayer and healing energy. But some feel it is their duty to proactively renounce and teach others to avoid interacting with anything relating to or c...

Reply

Roger Meachem
09:46 Oct 30, 2020

There's a lot more to this than I realised; I had a simplistic view of Beverley's mind-set. As always I'm reminded that a good story needs the author to do his/her homework - which you clearly have done. No, I don't think you need to set the context - I should have picked up on that for myself - I'm always suggesting show not tell - and that's what you are doing. All the best.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Princemark Okibe
14:57 Oct 28, 2020

Is Mr Beverly seeing ghosts or did he just assume the boy was Brandon's son.

Reply

Emily Nghiem
06:18 Oct 30, 2020

Both. He thought the teenager in the background was a bored older son sulking about having to tag along with the younger siblings. But when he heard that the son had died and could not possibly have been there, he realized he had seen a ghost. And worse, it had followed him to the hospital, and no one else saw it or believed it. So he was alone in that glitch in reality, unable to explain or get others to understand, who all thought he was rambling deliriously. That to me is the most frightening experience, to feel trapped with something fro...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
14:55 Oct 28, 2020

This was a really good Halloween story! The acknowledgement of how Halloween can be bad was a good way to start it and offer a unique set of main characters. The twist at the end was both a surprise and entirely believable with how you set up the story. Very well done!

Reply

Emily Nghiem
06:25 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you, Isabel. This is one of those stories that came to me and told itself. So it caught me equally off guard, and still does. When I read it, I step into the shoes of the husband talking innocently about his wife, with that awful feeling of "trying too hard" to avoid sensitive issues nobody dares to bring up. I don't see the ending coming. It still gives me the spooks, for my mind to go through the motions of backtracking, and realizing in hindsight that the teenager wasn't real. And by the time it hits you, it's too late. Your mind ha...

Reply

15:14 Oct 30, 2020

Yes, it really was a trick and a treat! The ending gives me a feeling fo dread for what comes next for the husband (of course no one will believe him). Happy Halloween!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Dalyane Deblois
17:47 Oct 22, 2020

I really enjoyed reading this story! Great job! I was glad to read a Halloween story. There is dark twist which disturbed me a little, but in a good way! It was very entertaining and well described. Keep writing!:)

Reply

Show 0 replies
11:26 Nov 10, 2020

Hii, Emily Sorry to intervene, in this brutal manner, I have a request for you would be kind to give a single glance over the vehicle which my team had been working over months. https://www.instagram.com/p/CHX5VUPBJOp/?igshid=5f72nb3cgg30 Sorry to take your time and If possible like the post.Because this would help team to win

Reply

Show 0 replies