Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Halloween Memory For the Telling

Here is my Halloween gift to you... a memory of my childhood...and this special season of surprises.

 "I grew up in the small community of Wellington in southern Kansas where Halloween was always a time of wonder and excitement.  Leaves that glowed liked candle flames sparkled against skies of azure blue during the days of October and at night their fallen comrades danced in the streets with a rattle and swirl up the dark streets.

In  town there was a house - there is always a certain "house" in small towns - and for every third grader this house was a sacred rite of passage.  Empty since before I was born, its elegant fading beauty spanned a corner and two stories. Through its hazy front window and door with sidelights glimpses of its past glory - a winding sweep of stairs, the glow of old oak, and the light from color glass could be seen.

It was the custom that once a child reached their 3rd year in school they were dared to go up to the door on Halloween and knock on the door. Once they had done that, they dashed back to the safety of the street and up  the block accompanied by many shrill screams and laughter. They had done it!! They lived to tell the tale!

One this particular Halloween I was roaming the streets with my friends with our bags, costumes and daring sense of adventure.  I was in 3rd grade.  We had just survived going to a house where the teenage daughter had frightened us by opening the door in the most horrid manner imaginable: her hair stood up on her head  in huge orange juice can curlers and a shiny green muddy mask was lathered on her face. "Kids! Why make me open the door Mom? You know it is my beauty night!!!"

We ran screaming into the night from the ghastly sight. Not, however, without first filling our bags with her treats.

Running away took us straight to that corner...to that one house.  Our steps slowed. Our breathing under our plastic face masks grew rapid. 

I knew what I had to do.

I slowly marched up the walk. I slowly, fearfully, climbed the steps.  I crossed the wide wooden porch and stood in front of the old wooden door. I leaned back to try and see through the sidelights and the huge front window. They were dusty and hazy but the street light and the moon revealed a hint of the curving wooden banister of the stairs, the fireplace and the fading roses on the wallpaper.

I gulped and reached out to knock. The sound echoed in the night.

I looked through the windows again and saw a white light creeping slowly down the sweep of the stairs....

Turning, my feet sprouting wings, I flew down the stairs, raced across the sidewalk and joined my friends as we raced up the street screaming and laughing.

I had lived!!

My brothers laughed at me later. "You probably just saw headlights reflected in the window. Goofball!"

I endured their laughter. I knew.

I had knocked on the door and someone, like the polite person who had no doubt lived in that lovely old house, was coming to open the door.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I had stayed around to meet them."

--Marilyn A. Hudson (c2014)

Professional Storyteller