I lie in wait. As poetic, or creepy, as that sounds it’s true. She comes by on occasion, but she’s always here come Halloween. Giggling echoes around the canyon that surrounds these parts, separating me from the town, my former home.
She’s not alone. This time of year she’s not without the crowd of buff guys. They strut and puff like they’re ready to save her from a burning building or a shark attack or the Zombie apocalypse. They act like they have no fear. Whether they’re as thin as I wish I was, or as wide, whether muscles ripple at the slightest flex or if they have legs as thick as tree trunks. I try not to be jealous, I shouldn’t feel anything considering.
Every year I wait. The trees lose their leaves, become big sticks with smaller sticks jutting out. The crunch of frosted ground under feet. I sense animals around. Especially when they relieve themselves nearby and I wait. I wait for the day when she’ll come in costume with a group of others. You’d think after four years there’d be some suspicion, but in a town as small as ours (population 2000 and counting) it’s the only ‘exciting’ thing to do on All Hallow’s Eve.
She’s in front, leading the way with a flashlight. Her outfit is a flashflight. She has a sparkly tiara in her hair. Her dress is neon green with glitter around the edges and translucent, again glittery, wings. I wait for her smile and she does as she gets closer through the brush and vines growing outward, sticking me as they get longer and thornier, and more aggressive, feels like they tie me down. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to.
There are four girls and four guys. All in costumes. The girls wear things too short and tight. The guys are superheroes (real original guys). Seeing her up close with glitter around her eyelids and in her lipstick, she shines. Everyone is dull next to her.
I want to touch her, hold her hand. We almost, once. Before. Creak. I try to get closer, creak. No use.
“Augh, this house is ugly,” one of the girls says. She sticks her tongue out my way. Wish I could do the same. The door opens and shuts startling them all. It’s the closest I can get. The girls, except for her, jump and the guys are quickly at their side.
She steps closer though. She smiles as she approaches and I wonder if she can see down to the core me. When we were kids, before everything happened she grinned at me not because her mom forced her to but because she wanted to. That’s what she told me. Before the accident. Before I got stuck and could only see her from afar.
“Babe, where you going?” Superdouche asks.
Over her shoulder she says, “I’m not your babe!” Snickers ensue and the guy swipes an arm at her as though she’s not worth anything anymore.
She comes up the path waving the flashlight.
She whistles. “The vines grew long.”
Her hand lands on the front of the house, where the doorbell would be if anyone else cared to come by. Her touch against the wood is a warm print that spreads. Lights flicker on and I feel her light by the briefest of contact. Just like in the hospital. When she put her hand on my back and said “It’s okay.” As soon as I had her I lost her. That’s what hurts the most.
“They miss you,” she says petting the door frame.
Are they the only ones? I wish I could say something, more. The most I can offer is a retraction of the shade but then it falls off the hinges.
“Creepy much?” the same girl calls from behind.
One of the guys wraps his arms around her and lifts her up. She giggles and screams, a flirty mix, for him to put her down.
She faces the group. “Come inside! See the haunted house for yourselves!” She crosses her eyes and wiggles her fingers in the air like she’s a puppeteer.
The door opens. The guys step up first. She steps to the side to let everyone in.
“You coming?” Superdouche asks.
“Be right in,” she purrs. He winks at her, punches the wall as if for good measure. Her face goes flat and she nods. My cue.
I seal it up like it’s Fort Knox.
“Hey!” Superdouche yells. He starts pounding on the door, another goes at the wall, one guy picks up one of the fallen lamps and hits the window. It’s like my insides are being blown out with each bit of force. The girls scream, their heels scrape the floor. I let loose. The lights flicker, the gas starts up, and soon everyone is very quiet.
She waits. So do I.
After a bit she asks, “Did it work this time?”
I try flexing arms but my reach doesn’t extend beyond the boards that creak and are weathered. I can feel termites burrowing in. Beyond the light fixtures and surges of electricity and the gas and those of them on the floor board. Beyond the vines sticking into the surface and creeping inside as well.
I wish I could tell her it worked. Another year and we’ll have to figure out a new way to get my life force out of this house and back into a human body.
She sighs. Leans her body against me. It’s always this point that I wish I had arms to hug her, to snake around her waist and feel her heartbeat against mine. I wanted to live longer and I wanted her. This is the cost.
“I’ll try harder. I swear, I’ll try harder.’” She starts down the pathway before rushing back. Kissing the window she leaves a glitter print of lips. I’ll hold onto that until the elements wash it away, until I’m finally free.
Photo by: Elephi Pelephi
Story by: Jenn Baker