A Halloween Story - JP

A little Halloween Bonus Treat, originally posted on the Blog.

Five minutes before you were born, this is true now, don’t interrupt, a small group of men burst into the room to see you. You don’t remember any of this, because, as I said, you were not born at the time. The first of them was old and cold, and they all let him have a look because he was frailest. He didn’t pause, he just shook his head and shuffled to the back of the pack; I guess he knew his kind and you just didn’t fill the bill.


The next one had eyes of heather, the plant now, lavender stalks pushing their way out the sockets like they had been stuffed in from behind. He bent over your mother and rubbed her belly and I think he must have been disappointed because you kicked, just then, and you would not come.


The third man had hair of sunshine, only old sunshine, plaited together and stuck down with summer sweat. And I remember that you didn’t care much for him either, though your mother seemed happy to see him, she talked about the waves in his smile for a month afterwords but I most remember the dryness of his cracked lips. I never cared for his kind anyways.


The fourth of five came forward then, slipping by his brother. His complexion was ruddy-on-pale, his breath a clammy dew, and he passed his hand over your mother’s belly and that’s when she said you were coming. I liked that fellow, because I was autumn’s child, too.


But then you stopped. And the fourth fellow hung his head, and the third crept back a little, and the second seemed to shudder all over, and only the first showed no fear, just turned his eyes away. The fifth man stepped forward and we knew. We knew he was for you. Because his eyes were not eyes, just spaces where nothing belongs. And his hands were not hands, just darkness where the light stopped. His lips curled back he had no teeth, tongue was a frozen tear; and I prayed for the world that you would not come, but lord knows, you did, you did.


Your mother wailed. I could not move. Your mother heaved. I was paralyzed. And the fifth man knelt to wait for you. But you were a lucky one, or your mom was clever, and more talented than I ever knew. Because the afterbirth got to the air first, and it fell into one of those hands that made a hole where tomorrow goes when it becomes yesterday.


Then you came out, into the other hand. And we held our breath, as you slid around those tendrils of darkness. And the world froze. Nothing I could do. But the last man, the man who looked like falling leaves, he leapt out and caught you with one of his hands, and together the two pulled you into this world.


And so there you have it. One hand of autumn, one hand of death. And that’s why you have always been Halloween’s child, and I reckon you always will. Now put on your mask and let’s go.