The old house, grey and broken, hunched like a frail old spinster in its bramble, weeds, and grasses. The sky, a violent shade of black, had long ago given way to the full moon dusted by shadowy wisps of clouds. Each step I took towards the front door left me breathless. What awaited inside? Who awaited inside? I admit it. I was scared.
A slight glow of yellow came from a lower floor window and calmed my nerves a bit. Light meant life in my mind, and not the unknown devils and demons who preferred the inky depths of closets that creaked and leaned unbidden into my imagination.
I was perhaps eight years old and going to my very first church-hosted Halloween party. I donâ€™t remember my costume, but I do remember the excitement of that night. In some ways I felt nearly grown up…most of the guests were in their teens…and I was trying to act like I could handle the creepiness. It was a tough sell as I knew the others saw me as a child who should be home, tucked in bed, instead of joining their night of mock-terror.
The woman chaperoning the event had gone out of her way to inspire maximum tingles and minimum cheesiness. The games were challenging and involved textures, smells, and tastes. Everything was red or mucus yellow, cold, slimy, sticky. Some games called for a visit to the upstairs area…but fortunately I opted out of those. The screams that came from above left me shivering for many nights to follow. My imagination was too alive and wired in those days.
I suppose if I were to re-live that night now, as an adult, it would seem ridiculously tame and innocent. But after all these intervening years that Halloween night remains as one of the most vivid and exciting of my youth. I still received candy, I still wore a costume, I still allowed the ghosts to touch my soul, but on that night was the first itty-bitty peek into the teenage years waiting in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps that was the scariest part of all.
If you have any favorite Halloween memories, please share!