All Hallows’ Eve

Orange and black image of house and twisty tree

It’s the night when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest…

Mike tried, but in the end, he couldn’t resist coming back to the house. The pull was simply too strong.

His wife had always loved Hallowe’en. Throughout the twelve years they were married, they had always held a party for their friends and family.

There’d be dunking for apples, carving pumpkin lanterns, over-the-top costumes and all kinds of silly games.

Now they were no longer together, he wondered if Elaine would have bothered to carry on with the tradition.

It soon became clear that she had. The outside of the house was draped with strings of orange lights, and a long line of hollowed-out pumpkins sat grinning on the window ledge.

As he drew closer, he could hear music coming from inside. It sounded as if the fun had already started.

Mike was unsure what to do. He couldn’t just barge in to the Hallowe’en party uninvited.

Just then, the back door opened and a woman stepped out. Even though she was wearing a Dracula mask, complete with blood- tipped plastic fangs, he recognised her at once.

It was Elaine. The woman he’d loved from the moment he first laid eyes on her.

He was about to step out of the shadows when a man joined her, dressed as Frankenstein’s monster. Mike knew exactly who it was – Paul Cartwright, the man he used to call his best friend.

He’d long suspected that Paul had feelings for his wife but seeing them together still came as a shock.

Only eleven months had passed. Could she be over him already?

He moved closer, so he could hear what they were saying, all the while making sure he stayed hidden in the shadow of his favourite tree.

“What do you say, Elaine?” asked Paul. “You know how I feel about you. Will you let me take you out to din –”

Elaine put a hand over Paul’s mouth, preventing him finishing his question.

“I’m not ready, Paul. Not yet. Right now, I’d like to get some air. Is that OK?”

Paul nodded.

“Of course. Be careful though,” he said, putting on a scary deep voice. “It’s Hallowe’en – the night when witches are abroad, and the spirits of the recently dead can return to earth.”

He held both arms out in front of him and took a couple of tottery steps toward her in a bad imitation of Boris Karloff.

Elaine smiled as she dodged easily out of his way.

“Don’t be daft, Paul. You know I don’t believe in any of that nonsense. I’ll be fine. Now go back inside and enjoy the party. I need to be alone for a while. I won’t be very long.”

Elaine waited until Paul had gone back inside. Only when she was sure she was completely alone did she make her way to the silver birch tree.

“Mike,” she whispered. “I’m hoping what they say is true, that the spirits of those who died in the past year can come back at Hallowe’en, because there’s something I need to tell you.

“Paul’s in love with me. He wants us to start dating. I’ve started to grow very fond of him too, but I don’t want to hurt you. You were my first and greatest love and whatever happens with me and Paul, nothing’s going to change that.”

Mike tried to speak but he had no voice.

“All I want is your blessing,” sighed Elaine. “Maybe you could send down a thunderclap, or blow me a kiss. Anything.”

For fully five minutes, she stood there, waiting. She looked so sad and so alone, Mike could hardly bear to watch.

He’d never meant to leave her. Losing his life in a car crash at the age of thirty-four had left so many things unsaid.

All he wanted, all he’d ever wanted, was for her to be happy.

Just then Paul came outside again, looking for Elaine.

“Are you OK?” he asked as gently he put a coat round her shoulders. “You’ve been out here for ages.”
Elaine nodded.

“I’m fine, but thanks for asking. I was just about to come back inside, actually.”

As she turned to go, Mike put his fingers to his lips and blew his wife a kiss, sending her all his love for ever, then he faded away, back to the spirit world, knowing that he could never return again.

“What was that?” Paul asked Elaine. “You just smiled and touched your cheek. Was it a moth?”

“No, darling,” she replied. “It wasn’t a moth, I do believe it was the touch of an angel’s wing, giving us his blessing.”

Then she took his hand and pulled him closer.

“That question you tried to ask me earlier. Ask me again.”

Paul smiled. “I want us to be more than friends. Will you let me take you out to dinner sometime soon?”

“I’d like that very much,” she said.