“And the last thing the boy heard was the sound of the worms coming to get him …”
In elementary school, my parents were key players in my education. My mother was my primary teacher and my father was my principal and my science and social studies teacher. He also had an uncanny ability to scare the living hell out of you. Which has left me scared of failing grades, worms, dark hallways, the movie “Alien” and all spiders.
And utterly terrified of placing a body in the ground.
In elementary school, on a particularly gloomy and windswept October, he treated us to a ghost story in which the hero of our story goes out of his way to crush every slimy invertebrate he can find post-thunderstorm only to wake in the middle of the night to find everything around him coated in the slimy suckers, sending him careening off the top of the stairs in a panic and leaving him completely paralyzed at the bottom. Except for the very tip of his little finger, which he wags to no avail as the doctors proceed to drain his body of all fluids and place him in a coffin six feet under. He continues to wag his pinky finger in vain and once the last shovelful of dirt is laid that last sound he is left with is that of the worms coming to get him.
Implausible, I grant.
Living in Arizona ensures that I no longer lurch back and forth across sopping sidewalks to give creepers a wide berth. But the very fact that I am living means that I cannot escape its counterpart, dying. And dying means bodies. And bodies mean eternal rest. And while the dead might sleep peacefully for eternity, the very thought of a body in the ground leaves me restless.
And so it is not without a bit of irony that October 30 – the eve of All Hallows Eve – is the day on which I buried my husband.
I have heard that there are those in my little corner of Wisteria Lane who find it odd that my children were allowed to trick or treat that year, and that they still do. And Halloween seems to jog my neighbors’ memories that the house on the corner, the one that looked abandoned and unkempt for so long, might just be the spookiest house on the street. My own children wondered if their Dad had grown to resemble the half emerging corpse across the street.
Halloween has never been my holiday. But I will never ever deny my children something that is a rite of childhood for most, even if it does happen to coincide with our own private season of macabre.
Which is why I have my hand full of pumpkin innards.
Which feels like a hand full of worms.