BY ALYSON FAYE
Copyright is held by the author.
WE GORGE ourselves on the scents and sounds of the street market. On every stall rows of amber glowing pumpkin heads leer at us, pyramids of witches’ hats threaten to topple, a skeleton busker dances a jig, whilst in amongst the crowds, tiny ghouls and demons duck and dive. We smile indulgently at their antics.
They are so innocent, so . . . unknowing. I envy them.
From behind the grey-shadowed church walls we hear the notes of a lone piper. Lured over, we make our way through the long grasses engulfing the tombstones. Amongst them I glimpse skinny shadows flitting. I blink and they are gone.
You tug at my hand. You are so eager to join them. In response I grip your hand tightly. I will not let you go. I feel a sob rise up.
No, stay with me. I know you can hear my thoughts, we are so close, you and I.
A bedraggled child steps forward. She’s unkempt, filthy-haired with dark pools where her eyes should be. She’s so thin you can see the fading daylight through her. She beckons and ventures a pitiful smile, showing rotted teeth and a glimpse of a black tongue. I recoil from the sight of her, but you do not. Instead you reach out and take the girl’s bony hand and stroke her hair.
The invisible piper’s music soars to a crescendo and I know you cannot resist. Not on this night, when the dead are roaming and have come calling for the lost. I can hear their whispers in the graveyard: “Join us . . . We need you . . . You are one of us.”
I have to let you go. It is time. Selfishly, I have kept you with me, chained by my love and by my desire to hold onto you.
“Goodbye Eve,” I whisper and you drift away, melting into the shadows.
A raven flies up from a tombstone, spreading feathery wings and tears roll down my cheeks. I slip through the lych gate and am submerged again in the sounds and smells of the street festival.
A small human child, dressed as a vampire approaches me, with his mum standing guard. “Trick-or-treat, mister?” he lisps.
His two front teeth are missing, but on him it’s cute. I reach into my pocket and pull out a pound coin, and with it Evie’s handkerchief. I press the coin into the vampire’s sticky palm and lift the hanky to my nose.
I smell my late wife’s perfume, the lavender undertones and I am comforted.