An Halloween story
by Sage Harper
Midwest farmers’ daughters really make you feel alright.
(The Beach boys: California girls)
I come to watch him every year on this day, when the veil between my world and his is thinner. It has ended up being something of a habit really, but, hey, it’s not like I have a better way to pass the time.
So I have watched him grow older and wiser, building a life for himself.
In the early years he’d take his youngest brother trick or treating; when it wasn’t too dangerous to be in town. Then when his brother was too old for that, and he was travelling the world with his job, he’d go to some anonymous party, at an anonymous bar, and take home an anonymous girl. That made me so angry at him.
He hasn’t done that for a while though, for which I’m grateful.
Stars shine down through a milky-haze of light, my fellow observers of this gathering. It seems so fantastical to think that there really is a base suspended between the earth and the heavens. Part of the new Spectrum organisation. And he’s part of it too, in the thick of the action, but then he always was. I hope he knows how proud I am of his achievement.
Music played, as it invariably does at parties. Some upbeat county kinda song with references to cars and racing, which are probably sexual innuendoes.
I watch him, watching a girl, as she dances: her eyes bright, a smile that speaks of wide prairies and long joyous nights, a shimmy that stays the cute side of sexy.
It was that last detail that got me, reeled me in. Only a tiny thing mind, a little flick of the hips at some key moment, as the beat coursed through her and over spilt with dance.
You could tell she was the kind of girl everyone liked. They too had been captivated by her effortless charm that made you feel the centre of the world. Just a smile, a look, a delightful laugh as you told another otherwise crap joke. She’s that kind of girl. No one has a bad word to say about her; despite the way she would launch into intimate female gossips over a nail-painting session, or how she teases and charms the men until they look on her form with hunger. Certainly, she never dishes the dirt, never sets out to steal anyone’s man, even mine. There was some instinctive line drawn, you knew it was all above board, and just her vibrant, extravagant way. As complex as they had bestowed on her, Symphony.
His perfection took my breath away, as it always had done. That wide smile, eyes the blue of summer sky, tall without lankiness. Graceful, in a wholly masculine way, he seemed almost to have stepped from the pages of a catalogue: a vision of wholesome all-American perfection, with a dash of European sensibility and culture, born of his Swedish heritage. They call him ‘Blue’, and I can’t think of a better name.
If he knew I watched him, what would he do? I’ve often wondered, almost wished to reveal myself, just to see and maybe give him some comfort; let him know there is something beyond this mortal life.
That I still love him.
What, you thought all that just got switched off during the moment?
Kinda wish it did, to be honest, it would save me from all of this.
Oh well, I chose this, I could have just as easily gone on my merry way. This was, you know, that one last thing. Through their lives people create these whole lists of ‘to do before I die’ - it’s even a TV show, right?
Oh, if only they knew.
In the end if I have any regrets, it’s not that I never learnt a musical instrument; my most ardent desire was not to bungee jump off the Grand Canyon.
No, it is to witness this moment. Him finally letting go, allowing life to go on.
She was talking to someone else now, a black-haired guy from New York; I think his name is Patrick. It’s truly amazing how much you sense and notice, having transcended your mind’s ‘all about me’ approach to perception. How, by stepping outside of life, you can watch it unfold its plan like the steady stitch of a tapestry. For instance, I know that Patrick – yes, that’s his name, his friend just called him over to the buffet - is in love with her, or at least thinks he is. Desire flows from his every pore. Whilst with her, hmm, it’s harder to tell. She likes him, as a close friend, but I sense those romantic feelings won’t be reciprocated.
Now Juliette, on the other hand, the French girl over by the drinks table ... Ooh, this could be interesting, I almost wish I could just stay and watch it all resolve itself.
Symphony broke away, and went to fix a drink. Seizing his chance, as if it were perfectly planned, Blue casually ambled over. She knocked her drink and it splashed onto his sleeve, prompting her to be hugely apologetic, but still giggling about the whole thing. They’ve done this before, you can tell, the dance and the game of falling in love with each other all over again.
So, they made some small talk, in an attempt to make this seem above board.
Then it came - like a crack of lightning. The way you never expect outside of trashy, romantic novels. I doubt anyone else in the room noticed, except me – and them of course, judging by their widened eyes and lull in conversation.
Between them they decide it’s really rather warm in here and too crowded, so they head back to her place for some privacy, and whatever greater thing lay beyond the moment.
It would have been wonderful to talk to her, for us to share stories over a coffee, or doing our nails. That just couldn’t be though, so I did all that could be done, and sent her a silent plea … Love him, the way he loves you.
The way he loved me.
I’d seen enough now – not just for today, but for ever more.
His pain will continue, but as mere twinges and pinpricks when something brings me to mind because, for him now, it was time to lean back, tumble and be caught in the web of a new love. It is time to give his love to a living woman once more.
And me? What becomes of me? I will just fade away, evaporating, oh so slowly, and I will take the hurting away, along with the images I have of them together. Eventually, I will become nothing more than something in a photograph, something to evoke a trace of passing sadness – like tide marks in the sand.
Take care, Adam
So I slip away, yeah, like a ghost.
Traditionally Halloween is considered a time when the veil between the world of the living and the afterlife is at its thinnest, hence all the supernatural goings on. It is also a ‘New Year’s eve’ of sorts, for those of a pagan persuasion, so the theme of change and growth also applies.
So here you have a love story, and indeed a ghost story, with a twist.
Though I haven’t mentioned a name, my narrator was inspired by Soraya, the late fiancée of Captain Blue, created by Marion Woods.
I wondered what she’d make of Symphony, and this was the result.
Thanks to Marion Woods and Chris Bishop for beta-reading and posting this story.