We used to have a party for the kids’ classmates, before everyone got so old and jaded. These parties would involve weeks of preparation and decorating. There were no cutesy spiders or witches with striped stockings. No, no! We’re talking bodies in shallow graves, covered in blood-stained sheets; my sainted mother staggering around our field, clutching her severed arm and begging for help; and Princess Daughter dressed up as a rotting corpse bride. There would be feats of courage and a story told around a bonfire. If by the end of that story, the kids ran screaming into the house or were begging me to stop, well…my job was done, and I’d fall asleep that night with a smile on my face. I still get approached by the kids who came to those parties. “I couldn’t sleep without a night light for three years after that,” a kid might say. “You’re welcome,” I answer.
My kids don’t want us to have a Halloween party any more, though this may change (they may have been a teensy bit scared themselves). I offer every year, sort of hoping that the week before the holiday will see me shoveling out our vegetable garden, tossing body parts about, then writing some terrifying tale that will emotionally scar as many as possible. Hey. I didn’t grow up reading Stephen King for nothing.