Please note: This is fiction!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve visited the woods behind my parents’ old house every Halloween. It’s not that I wanted to, somehow, I was drawn there by something, by someone. Now, it’s 4:30 PM on Halloween and I am rushing through the downtown traffic or trying to at a speed of 5 miles-per-hour.
“Ugh, come on, people, move it!” I pound the steering wheel. I don’t know what my hurry is. I never do but more so on Halloween.
After 90 minutes of nearly stop-and-go traffic, I enter my parents’ old neighborhood at last. It looks the same as the last time I visited a year before. My parents no longer live here. They moved into a RV three years ago and went caravanning across the country.
To avoid attention, I am parking the car a block away. Then, with my backpack fastened and secured to my body and a flashlight in my hand, I head for the woods.
No less than 5 minutes after entering the woods, all the noises disappear. There’s no sound of nearby children trick-or-treating, no car driving by, and no planes whizzing by overhead. Just silence and the crunching of branches beneath my feet. I’ve been in these woods plenty of times over the years but never have I felt such eeriness and chills.
Busting open a pack of hand warmers, I continue forward.
Another 10 minutes later, I arrive at a clearing. I stop for a moment to listen for any kind of noise – owl hooting, bird chirping, anything to take the edge off of this eeriness.
Then out of nowhere comes this white light in the distance. What is that? Before I can wonder further, I am walking toward it. Each step become mechanical and involuntary as my eyes become fixed at the light to the point of not blinking. At the same time, a part of my body and mind is fighting the compulsion. “Stop,” it screams. STOP!
After dragging my feet for what feels like an eternity, I arrive at another clearing and it’s there I stop walking. Around me are ghostly figures, apparitions? my mind wonders as the conscious part of me watch them float above me in a circle. They’re whispering in all kinds of accents – Irish, Welsh, Scottish, 70’s Jersey?
“Oh, what’s the use?” One says, “She won’t remember this after the stroke of midnight.”
“We can always try.” Another says.
“Try try try, that’s all you ever say and how many years have we been doing this now? A millennia!”
“Who knows? Maybe this one’s different.”
“Stop talking!” A familiar voice trumps over all the others and instantaneously, I recognize that voice.
“Mother?” My parents walks toward me, holding hands like I’ve never seen them hold hands before, like a pair of teenagers after a dance. The closer they step toward me, a sudden realization dawns on me – they are teenagers, even younger than I ever remember them to be. What the heck is happening? “W-what happened to you guys?”
It takes them a moment to notice the concern on my face before they laugh, “Oh, we’re fine, if that’s what you’re worrying about. This is what we do on Halloween each year.” I frown. This is what they do? Since when? “Don’t you know? It’s our tradition. This is the day when the portals between the worlds is visible. It’s the only day of the year when we can separate ourselves from our spirits and join our ancestors.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all those years before?”
“Because honey, even if we told you, you wouldn’t believe us. You’re ever the realist.” My mother says as a few of the ghosts snicker. “Besides, you’ll forget all about this at the stroke of midnight.”
I take my phone from my pocket. It’s already 11. “So in an hour, my memory will be wiped clean of this?”
“‘fraid so, honey.” One of the ghosts answers.
“And I will be drawn back here next year and experience the same thing next year?” Are you kidding me with this?
“I’m sorry, honey.” Mother gives me a sympathetic smile. “Happy Halloween?”