Halloween on Pine Street: People are still cautious about opening their doors to strangers. The pandemic is not over, although folk experience a bit of space in which to hope that this is their last Halloween of worry, at least about that.
Leo and Allison have decided to go all out decorating her old house for the occasion. There are fake cobwebs in all the trees, a skeleton reclining on the front porch, and blinking orange lights everywhere.
They thought about adding a fake cemetery to the front yard, but it didn’t seem right, yet, to make light of death.
But of course, that’s what Halloween is all about: we give ourselves permission to play with death and loss, just as the landscape in the temperate climate of this valley begins its annual descent into slumber. We dress death up in lights and costumes, feed it the sweetest candy we can find, and remind ourselves that it is always here, the shadow of life.
The trees shed their leaves, turned gorgeous shades of crimson, ochre, orange, making piles that delight children and dogs with their crispness. Every footfall crunches, every breath on an early morning or evening walk shows itself against the cool air.
The friends gather at the old green house, as safely as they can, to watch the neighborhood kids select small bags of candy from a giant plastic pumpkin near the front gate. “Happy Halloween!” they all shout to one another, kids and parents, friends and family.
Louise holds Douglas’s hand, warm in the knowledge that Jessie and Stephen will welcome them for Thanksgiving with their large family. David snuggles little Penny in her first Halloween costume, a fuzzy yellow and black bumblebee. He feels Sasha’s presence, one of the many ghosts taking up the invitation to visit on this hallow’s eve.
Rosa has joined them, standing near David and Penny, a heart full remembering the patients who passed through the hospital without making it home. Kassandra arrives late, having visited River out on the farm, sharing hot chocolate and stories about school and art. She brings Jeeves, her new friend from the Stitch and Bitch Club, who fits in easily with all the rest of the group, as Kassandra imagined.
Franny sips a mug of hot peppermint tea, antidote to the chocolate she indulged earlier. Leo slips an arm around her waist, and she leans her head on his shoulder, wondering what the winter will bring.