Christie walked against the low-hanging moon, followed only by the ends of her costume: a white bedsheet with uneven eyeholes. Her brother was out of sight, undoubtedly waiting to scare her.
I’m surprised I ever agreed to watch him, the bedsheet ghost thought, remembering their first Halloween together.
“Come on,” Danny had whined, “Forget about being a cool teenager for one night and come trick-or-treating with me.” She had reluctantly agreed, driving him to wealthier neighborhoods where the two could bob for apples or drink warm cider when their feet were tired. Danny had called it, “The best Halloween ever,” but their perfect night ended imperfectly with a car accident that made him an only child.
Christie felt as though she were still living. Alone, she would watch her chest rhythmically rise and fall as it had in the past. But she didn’t have a body anymore, only a faint outline that needed to wear something for Danny to see her. He was her only connection to the outside world.
“I don’t want to go home today,” Danny had once told her; “Dad yelled at me for going into your room. I was just trying to find a picture of you in there, since Mom hid most of them.”
“She did?” Christie had asked, trying not to sound hurt.
“Yeah. I’m not even allowed to say your name anymore.” After a pause, he added, with a shaky voice, “I want you to come home.” Wishing she could be home, Christie felt as lonely now as she did then, trying to separate the good memories of the night she died from the bad. Both felt real.
“Boo!” Danny yelled suddenly, jumping out from behind a nearby tree, “I scared you, I scared you! Ha ha ha-ha ha!”
His sister continued walking, pretending not to notice him. Can he ever be serious?
“Hey, Christie, wait for me!” Danny clumsily closed the distance between them until they were walking shoulder-to-shoulder, separated only by their bags of candy. The dim lighting from overhead street lamps created the appearance of gaping, black holes where her brother’s eyes should have been, much like her own. This trick of light scared Christie, though she wouldn’t admit it.
“We used to have so much fun together,” she muttered, breaking a long silence; “I remember taking you out back to build dams and catch tadpoles. Do you remember what I taught you?”
“Line the boards in a row, facing each other like sandwich bread,” Danny said, smiling; “Then cover them in rocks—”
“That way, when you scoop your bucket into the water, the tadpoles will have nowhere to hide.” They both laughed, reminiscing about how they took turns letting the slimy tadpoles wriggle between their fingers.
“Can’t we have fun again like we used to?” Danny asked.
“No, Danny,” Christie answered, stopping by a pair of wrought iron gates; “I already told you that.” Grabbing at her waist, Danny buried his face in her costume, staining it with salty tears. Time seemingly stood still as Christie, keeping herself from crying, wrapped her arms around his frail body, murmuring soothing words all the while; “You have friends now,” she whispered, “and Mom and Dad are finally becoming themselves again. You don’t need me anymore.” When her younger brother seemed to settle down, Christie handed him her bag of Halloween candy, adding with a forced smile, “You’re on candy duty.”
The two hugged for the last time before Danny, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve, began walking home with two bags of candy and a white bedsheet, turning around once to watch an unseen hand close the iron gates to the cemetery for the last time.