By Guy Mead for the Island Eye News
It is the job of youth to whittle away on their fear of death so they may live peacefully in their old age. Years ago, on Halloween, I used to walk my children around the neighborhood, making sure they weren’t dragging their paper grocery store bags through the dewy grass like my little brother used to do. When I was five years old, my brother’s and I were on the far side of the neighborhood. We were tired and started dragging our bags through the wet grass and our bags melted and fell apart. There was a trail of candy across the yard. We gathered it all up, and put it in our older brothers bag and trudged home under its weight.
Here all the houses are in the flood plain so my children had to walk up a flight of steps to ring each doorbell and get a treat. It didn’t take long for them to become exhausted and tell me they were ready to go home and weigh their candy. It was always just a little over a ton. A few streets with older houses were still on the ground.
One year we were heading back to the house, when my fiveyear-old daughter said she wanted to go to one more house, where the lady gave out candy-apples.
It was a little cinderblock place on the corner of Hartnett. I stood at the street as usual as she walked up. I noticed the house was dark. I remembered being here last year and the year before that. My daughter had come away with candy-apples wrapped in red see-through cellophane. Tonight she came back with nothing the house remained dark. “I guess she’s not home,” my daughter said. I knew the house had been deserted for months. It was my understanding the lady had entered the hospital a couple of months before. I think I heard she had died.
As we were walking home, out of the clear blue night she said, “Halloween isn’t going to be the same.”
Now, as the days grow shorter and the intensity of summer is moved south, I found myself in the yard, years later, with gray hair and a stiff back. A group of young girls ride by on their bikes. I hear one of them say, “I love that house on Halloween.”
I thought of my daughter years ago, and think perhaps I should get the candy apples ingredients next time I’m at the store.