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A Halloween Carol

Sylvie Call, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Monday, October 30, 2017. Sixth period, ten minutes until the bell rings and the hoards of students are released. Nobody can focus, it’s the last period of the day and tomorrow is Halloween. Everyone is jittery – Jenny is planning her party, Michael is telling his friends the best houses to go to, Alex is complaining about having to take her little brother with her.

However, one senior thinks that he is too old and too busy for the infantile excitement surrounding the upcoming holiday. Evan Gray thought Halloween was the dumbest holiday of the year. He appreciated the free candy, but going door to door, spending hours outside when he had plenty of other things to do? That was on the ridiculous side for him.

The bell rang, and students ran to their golf carts or cars. Some lounged about for club meetings or waited to walk with their friends, while others walked alone to their lockers. Evan belonged to the latter group, as his friends had all run off to football practice, so he leisurely climbed the stairs. His locker was in the history hallway, marking him as a senior. He didn’t have much homework, since he had had two quizzes earlier that day. Driving home, he tried to tune out the terrible monster-themed music that was being blasted by his fellow students.

After finishing his homework, Evan went upstairs into his room, where he began to play a game on his laptop. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by a massive wave of tiredness, and he fell asleep on his bed within seconds.

Can you go home to the spirit realm or whatever now? I have tests to study for and a dinner to eat.”

Evan woke up in a cold sweat, sitting up in bed so quickly that his head began to hurt, only worsening his mood. He shook his head and looked out the window, and he saw that it was beginning to get dark. He turned around and came face to face with a child. He leapt back as he recognized the kid – it was him. But the child-Evan was transparent and was standing through his laptop, which had fallen to the floor when Evan had fallen asleep. Ghosts weren’t real; they couldn’t be. A sentient being needed to be alive. Evan had seen enough horror shows to know that even if ghosts were real, they always belonged to people who were most definitely dead. How could his ghost be there if he wasn’t dead?

Shakily, Evan reached out a hand and touched the child – who looked like he had been copied and pasted from the family Christmas photo that was hanging in the downstairs living room.

Evan frantically asked, “Who are you? How could you be here?”

As his hand passed through the motionless child, he continued ranting, “Am I dead? You’re not possible. I can’t be dead, I can still feel. If Dave gave me something, I’ll kill him. Maybe I just haven’t woken up from that dream; I remember falling asleep so…”

He continued to the point that the young ghost got annoyed and finally shouted, “YOU’RE NOT DEAD, I AM REAL. SHUT UP AND LET ME GET A WORD IN!”

Evan went silent with shock. Ghost? Real. Dead? No. High? TBD.

“Thank you.” the child said, in a voice that sounded much too old for his five-year-old face. “I am the ghost of halloween past. And since you’re only 17, your past is pretty close so I’m forced to take the form of a five-year-old. You’ve lost your halloween spirit, so I was sent to help.”

Evan groaned, desperately hoping this was a dream. “This is ridiculous. Halloween is stupid, it’s just spending money for someone else to have a piece of candy while playing dress-up. Leave me alone please, I’ve got a Brit lit test to study for.”

The ghost grinned, and flew through Evan before he could even think about moving out of the way. Both were thrown into a flashback, eleven years prior.

There was a little boy, running down the street. One of his front teeth were missing, and his dark brown hair was flopping all over the place as he tried to escape his mother. He was dressed as a ninja turtle, and his cloth Target bag was sinking toward the ground, filled with candy and treats.

“Hurry, momma, hurry! We still need 4 more houses but the sun’s going down!” He paused impatiently, tapping his foot as his mother laughed.

“Evan, how do you have this much energy? Why on earth would anyone give you sugar?” she said, smiling at her little boy. His excitement over Halloween was infectious, and she couldn’t bring herself to worry about the upcoming sugar crash. She caught up with him, took his little hand in hers, and walked to the next house.

Evan, looking back at this memory, smiled, remembering how exciting free candy was to a six-year-old. He remembered how cool ninja turtles were to that little kid and how much they shaped every aspect of his life for about three years. The ghost caught Evan smiling, and nodded to himself, knowing that he had done his particular job. He took Evan’s hand and pulled him back to his room. Little time had passed.

“So.” the ghost said, “Saw you smiling. What was that about?”

“Little kids can be so silly and entertained by everything.”
“That’s not what I asked,” the ghost responded.

Evan rolled his eyes as he said, “Whatever. You want to hear that I was magically converted to the halloween spirit by visions of the past. Sure, yep, that’s exactly what happened. Can you go home to the spirit realm or whatever now? I have tests to study for and a dinner to eat.”

The ghost glared, but he left.

There was silence in the small room for about five minutes, until yet another ghost popped into view. This time, he looked exactly like Evan (minus the whole transparency thing). Evan glared at the ghost and turned back to the game on his phone.

“Go away, you did your job, I love halloween, leave me alone now.”

“Technically I’m a different ghost, though. I’m the ghost of halloween present, and you will come with me whether you want to or not.” With that statement of finality, the ghost of halloween present grabbed Evan by the arm and flew away, seeking two people in particular.

The first person was Evan’s best friend, Dave. He had dyed his hair blindingly white just for halloween. Evan wasn’t sure if Dave loved the holiday just for ironic purposes – which was why he did a lot of things – but he seemed to actually enjoy dressing up and getting candy. This year’s costume was Quicksilver, from the Marvel comics, and his girlfriend Katie had played along and dressed up as Scarlet Witch.

As Evan and the ghost watched, Dave went up to a house and got a full-size chocolate bar and, after thanking the person, gave the bar to Katie and proceeded to somersault down the stranger’s front yard, and somehow managed to land on his feet and give a bow. Evan laughed, because that stupid rolling was an incredibly Dave thing to do.

Evan shook his head and chuckled, “Why am I even surprised anymore when it comes to Dave?” They continued to watch Dave for a little longer, then went to the second person: Evan’s sister, Emily.

Emily was only two years younger than Evan, but she liked to act and think like they were the same age. All of her friends were older, or at least acted the same way she did. She wasn’t head-over-heels for halloween like Dave was, but she enjoyed any kind of holiday because they normally meant dessert and hanging out with friends, so Evan was unsurprised to see his sister at Clara’s party.

Turning to the ghost, Evan groaned and said, “Watching Dave was funny, because that’s just who he is, but do I really have to spend more time with my dingbat of a sister than I have to?”

“Shut up. Look at how much fun she’s having. Don’t give me that look, I’m you, I know you care a little bit, deep within your cold, black, teenage heart. You may think dressing up and getting candy is childish, but here’s proof that you can have a good time on halloween even if you don’t do that.”

Evan kept up an image of nonchalance, but he said nothing in protest.

“Back home then?” he said, hoping to rid himself of this weird dream. He still wasn’t sure if this was a really weird lucid dream or what.

“Not quite,” the ghost said. “There’s one more ghost to bring you away from your cold-hearted hatred of halloween.”

Evan sighed. This was ridiculous. Ghosts weren’t real, and if they were, he desperately hoped he would never become one since they were super annoying.

Stopping back at the house so the ghost could change forms, Evan sat on his bed, waiting. He considered leaving his room, but he figured that hiding in the basement would be pointless since ghosts can float through walls. If it was inevitable, why try to avoid it?

An old man floated into the room. Wrinkled, with pure gray hair, the older ghost had obviously lived through a lot. Evan was a bit shaken, seeing how he would look as an old man. Some people were curious about it, but he found the whole thing pretty weird.

“Let’s go already,” Evan groaned.

The ghost didn’t say anything as he took his younger self to a suburban home in another state, miles and lifetimes away from the present. An old man – physically mirroring the ghost with – was sitting in a rocking chair with a large bowl of candy on his lap. Though he had the exact same face as the ghost, he had different clothing; a baseball cap covering his stringy, white hair, a faded baseball jersey, and muddied baseball pants. The man smiled as two little kids ran up to him. As they came near enough, he sat up to greet them, even though the movement obviously pained his old, wearied body.

“What’s your name, good knight?” the man asked the young boy, who was wearing a knight costume made mostly of cardboard and aluminum foil.

The boy giggled as he said, “I’m Jack.”
Sir Jack, of course. And what about you, young miss?”

“My name’s Louise. Imma witch!” She had a lisp, so the “s” in Louise became “Louithe”.

“You can’t be a witch, you’re too sweet!”

Having made both the children blush, he wished them a happy halloween and gave the two both copious amounts of candy. He waved as they ran down the driveway back to their parents.

Evan woke up in his room, the sun shining through the window in the back of the room, and his mother standing over him. He suddenly remembered how sick he had been that morning, high fever and a sore throat that felt as if it had been on fire.

“Were you able to sleep at all?” his mother asked with her naturally concerned, gentle face.

“Sort of,” Evan responded, running his hand through his hair. “I had a really weird dream, but I think sleeping definitely helped deal with the sickness.”

“I’m glad. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of homework to make up for, but do you want to pause that and help me set up halloween decorations for tonight?”

He remembered how happy those children had been, how excited Dave had been about halloween, and came to the conclusion that any holiday that creates that much excitement had to be worth something. Besides, the holiday wouldn’t be a tradition if everyone had a reason to hate it.

Evan spent the rest of the day helping his mother set up, and spent his night handing out candy to the littler kids, and then joining Dave and Katie for trick or treating. By the time he got home, he found himself smiling at the weird adventure of a day he had had.

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A Halloween Carol