Sequel to Trick or Treat
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Evie had been married just three months. She hadn’t yet got used to being alone when James was working nights. This night especially she didn’t like being alone. At home her mother had always made a big thing of Halloween. Evie had bought plenty of treats in readiness for any young callers, but so far there hadn’t been any. Their home was a ‘new build’ on an only partially built housing estate. So far not many of the houses were occupied and those that were didn’t have children, or if they did they were far too young to go Trick or Treating. Sitting alone in her brand new home without her brand new husband made Evie feel lonely and nostalgic for Halloweens gone by; she picked up her iPhone and called her mother.
“Of course you can come over, darling. You don’t have to ask. I’m on my own too; Grandma’s decided not to come tonight. She’s not ill or anything, just a bit tired, so don’t worry.”
Her mother sounded delighted that she’d rung. Evie grabbed her warm coat and scarf, pulled on her boots and set off to walk the half-mile or so to her old home. James had taken the car and it wasn’t far enough to bother waiting about for buses.
The moon was almost full and the night dry and cold. Every breath she exhaled hung in the air, a grey, moist vapour. She pulled up her coat collar and was thankful for her warm scarf. She smiled to herself as she remembered nights from the past when neither cold nor damp had prevented her wandering out in flimsy Halloween costumes. She had almost reached the memorial park when Meg and George invaded her thoughts. They always came to mind on Halloween of course, but it was years since the three of them had enjoyed Trick and Treating together. She mused on the weirdness of their relationship. It was odd to think that those ghostly children had become such a special part of her childhood. She sighed as it dawned on her that that was the basis of the problem that had finally parted them. She had grown up: they never would. After their first meeting they’d got together every October 31st for many years but with each passing one the children had become more remote, shy even, in her company. Finally university intervened and after that somehow they’d never met up again. Was it fate, she wondered, that had brought her to this place on this night?
Evie paused to read again the small plaque detailing the events of that long ago bombing raid. She felt the tears sting her eyes as the memories of that first Halloween flooded back. She remembered the children’s very pale faces and what she’d thought was great white make up and thinking their outfits rather strange but at ten years old the idea that they were anything but Trick or Treat ghosts had never occurred to her. She had thought their initial reluctance to accept the offered treats a bit odd but had put it down to shyness. Even when they’d accompanied her back to her house in order to share out their spoils and her grandma had been amazed at their ability to eat sticky toffee apples without getting so much as a mark on their faces or clothes, the truth had not dawned; at least not to her. She realised now that her grandmother had had suspicions, which proved to be correct when she and Evie had sought them out the following morning. It had been at this very spot that she’d discovered that Meg and George were real ghosts not make-believe ones. Many people would have left it at that but not her. She had really liked the children and wanted their friendship to continue. She had waited the following year for them to join her, and join her they had and did so again each Halloween for a good many years after. She felt guilty now as she gazed at their names on the cold little plaque for deserting them for so long. It wasn’t their fault that they couldn’t grow up. They must still be somewhere around here tonight, on the one day a year when they inhabited their physical forms again.
The park looked deserted, not even dog-walkers who often frequented it were to be seen. Evie thought hard, trying to remember what exactly they had told her about their Halloween appearances. From the last stoke of midnight on the 30th November until the first stroke of midnight on the 31st. they were allowed to show themselves and communicate with living people. She wondered if after she had stopped meeting them might they have stopped appearing? Then she spotted what she thought was them at the furthest point of the small park, where the field drifted downwards towards the gate that lead out onto the road beyond. A group of figures huddled together beneath the large oak and elm trees that fronted the bushes running alongside the wall separating park from roadway. As she approached she recognised the ghosts, all seven of them, standing with their backs to the path and their faces turned away and doing their best not to be noticed. Evie’s heart almost broke at the pitiful sight. Then s wonderful idea struck her. She took out her iPhone and dialled her mother once more.
“You all right Evie?” she sounded anxious; “I was just beginning to worry.”
“Yes, I’m fine Mum. I’m at the Memorial Park.”
“Mum, they’re here – the ghosts, all of them. I don’t know whether I will be able to persuade them or not but if I can, may I bring them with me so we can give them a Halloween they’ll never forget. Oh Mum, they look so sad.”
There was silence at the other end for just a moment, before her mother replied in her cheeriest voice, “Of course they can. Give me a little time to make ready then bring them all along. Even if the adults don’t want to come, bring the children. I’d love to see them again.”
“Oh thanks Mum, I knew you would.” Evie clicked off the phone and called as loud as she could towards the little group huddled under the trees.
“Meg! George! It’s me, Evie.”
The adults figures sank further into the shrubbery but the two children looked up and Meg tentatively waved a greeting. George stared at her as she approached,
“You’re not Evie,” he said and grabbed hold of an elderly lady standing just behind him.
“Yes she is, George. She’s just a lot older that’s all.”
Evie felt in her pocket, she had grabbed a handful of the sweets she’d bought in for the Treaters before she left, intending to give them to any she met on the way. She held them out to the little boy,
“Here, I’ve brought you these,” she said, “I’ve come to invite you all to my mother’s for the evening. You will come, won’t you?”
The adults looked stunned, and three of them immediately shook their heads.
“It’s alright, we know who you are. It doesn’t matter. We aren’t afraid. We just want to be friends.”
Meg turned to the others, “I’d like to go. I think we all should. We’ve been before and always had a lovely time”
“Have you got toffee apples?” George asked and Evie laughed,
“I don’t know to tell you the truth. Grandma usually makes them but she isn’t there tonight. She may have made some earlier. We’ll just have to find out when we get there. You will come won’t you? Please.”
Evie gazed at the white faced group. She really did want them all to come. She didn’t know why, but somehow she knew it that it was important that they should do. There was an excitement growing within her – a feeling that she had a part to play in something important.
“We have to be back here before midnight.” It was the children’s mother who spoke, a shy smile playing around her pale lips, “I’ll come with the children. How about you mother?”
The elderly lady holding on to George’s hand smiled too and nodded agreement. Evie turned to the other adults hoping they would all accept too but the three others moved away, still shaking their heads. The children’s grandmother let go of George’s hand and moved after them. They whispered together for sometime then it seemed the decision had been reached; they would all come.
It was a rather nerve wracking walk to Evie’s mother’s and they got a lot of strange looks along the way. Luckily because they had the children with them people took it that the adults had dressed up in keeping with the youngsters.
“Come in, come in.” Evie’s mother was waiting at the door for them. “Hello George, it’s a good job Evie’s grandma brought me some of her home-made toffee apples yesterday because I’m afraid she isn’t here.” George’s face split into a grin. “She’ll be very sorry to have missed you.”
The adults stood around looking rather awkward, not sure what to say or do.
“Sit down please. Would you like a cup of tea or something stronger? Evie, there’s Parkin-cake and buns in the kitchen, and a few sandwiches. Bring everything in here dear, will you?” Evie scurried off to the kitchen and just hoped that her mother could break down their visitors’ reserve. By the time she returned with armfuls of food a buzz of conversation filled the room. Evie breathed a sigh of relief.
“Please call me Jessica, and this is my mother, Edith, that’s Lizzy, Bert and Mollie. Meg and George of course you know.”
“I’m Sue.” Evie’s mother returned. The adults talked about anything and everything whilst Evie kept the children occupied on her laptop. Then suddenly Evie drew in a breath and looked towards the little boy as his grandmother began to tell the story of the night they were bombed. Meg noticed her worried expression,
“It’s alright, he knows now. We had to explain; mainly because of you actually.”
“Because of me? Why?”
“Well we’d never had any living friends before, but when you began to grow up he started asking questions. He was upset at first but after a while he got used to the idea and it doesn’t bother him any longer.”
“Does it bother you Meg?”
“Not really. It happened didn’t it? There isn’t anything anyone can do about it. I do miss my Dad though. George doesn’t really remember him as clearly as I do.”
“What happened to your father? Where was he when you…”
“Died,” Meg finished the sentence for her, “We don’t know. That’s the trouble. He was in the army, we hadn’t seen him since he had his last leave before he was sent abroad – we never found out where. That was why Mum chose to come back. She wanted to see him again, to know that he was safe.”
“What do you mean, chose? Didn’t you have to become ghosts?”
“Oh no, you get a choice. If dad had been with us we wouldn’t have come back. Mum asked to return in spirit until she either saw him again or found out where he was. But he never returned and we had no way of discovering where he was or even if he was still alive.”
“How dreadful! But what about the others – the adults I mean, why are they here?”
“Well you see because we all died together in the same moment we are sort of tied together in death. Because one of us came back the others had to too. They could have asked mum to stay but because she was so unhappy without dad they agreed to wait with her.”
“But you are all still here. I don’t understand. I mean it is seventy-five years since your houses were bombed.”
“We have to remain until mum finds out what happened to dad and there is no way now that she ever can.”
“But if he’d died, then you’d know by now surely?”
“No, not if he died without knowing mum had returned to wait for him. That’s what mum thinks happened. He has passed over and we are doomed to be earth bound for all eternity.”
“If you find out about your father will you be able to pass over too?”
“Yes, but there is no way we ever will.”
“Yes, there is.” Evie could feel the excitement she had felt earlier bubbling up again. I can find out for you now, tonight – on here.” She patted the laptop.
“What did you say?” Sue had obviously been listening to their conversation, “That can’t be true. It would be too wonderful, like magic.”
“But it is true. I just need some details about him and a few minutes to search on an ancestry site and we’ll know if he’s still alive or, if he isn’t, when he died.”
“Oh, do it, do it now please!” Jessica whispered; her eyes like large saucers in her pale, pinched face.
“Go ahead Evie” Sue turned a serious expression to the ghostly mother, “You should remember that you might discover things you would rather not know. He may have married again, had another family. Are you sure you really want to know everything?”
“Of course I do. I want him to have lived on, to have had a happy life. But we are condemned to stay here in spirit until I discover what happened to him.”
It took Evie longer than she thought to search the records but after about an hour she found what she was looking for. Private George Partington had died almost four years after his family. His death had come on the Normandy beaches on D Day, 6th June 1944.
“He must have been informed of our deaths and decided to pass over unaware that we waited for him here.”
“What happens now?” Sue asked her guests.
“I don’t know but I think that tonight at midnight when we disappear from human view we will disappear for ever. Oh how can we ever thank you for what you’ve done?”
“There’s no need for thanks. I just wish I’d known years ago. We could have found out as long ago as that first meeting.”
“Time doesn’t matter for us, only for you. I think we should make our way back to Kendal Road now. It has already turned eleven thirty.”
“Can we go too, to say goodbye?” Evie asked. Her mother nodded.”
“Of course you can our dearest, dearest friends. We’ll say our last goodbyes at the memorial park.” Sue said and put her arms about her children’s shoulders.
Twenty minutes later the strangely quiet group approached the park. The streets were empty now; Halloweeners long gone. A brilliant moon illuminated their way as they approached the park. A shadowy figure emerged from behind the war memorial. Jessica stared in disbelief for a second and then rushed towards it, arms outstretched.
“George, Geroge!” her call drifted back to them on the cold night air.
“Daddy!” Meg was the next to recognise the figure, “George it’s our daddy!” The two of them followed their mother, until they were enfolded by the arms of the waiting soldier.
“Goodbye and thank you,” Their grandmother said, her sunken eyes brimming with gratitude. The remaining adults joined the family group as somewhere a clock began to strike midnight. The figures started to fade and as the chimes ended they disappeared completely.
“Did you see Mum?” Evie said, tears trickling down her cheeks, “He mouthed ‘thank you’ to us just before they vanished.
Her mother voice choked with emotion as she hugged her close, “Come on Evie, let’s go home.” She said.
Also by the Author
Adult Fiction Lust, Love and Lies (a romantic saga crossing decades); The Clarendon Close Collection (separate but inter-connectable short stories)
Poetry: The Pottery Fish (an anthology of modern and rhyming poems)
Astrology: Astrology and Heredity (paperback); The Forgotten Planet
Autobiographical: My Dyslexic Journey
Children’s Fiction: Juvenile/Teens – Holiday Blues, Time Line, Flat Cats, Octinnia; The Adventure Begins’, Long Ago and Far Away, Earth Giant, Bianca, Never the Twain, Trick or Treat,. Early readers – A Prickly Problem, Honk The Donk, Alfie Goes to Uni, Just Joe, Fluff Gang Tales (written in rhyme), The Fluff Gang and the New Neighbour (written in rhyme); PC Mouse, The Blackbird That Couldn’t Sing, The Butterfly That Lost a Spot, They’re Not Real, Grandma, And What do you want for Christmas, A Squirrel Called Cyril, Pretty as a Picture, Sampson to the Rescue, The Cry Bear, The Competition, Box Sets – Animal Tales Series Box Set and Fantasy Trio Box Set.
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