Monday, October 3, 2011

Potions, Plastic Bugs, and Picture Books

October Challenge: Favorite Halloween Things

1. Song.

2. Book. When I was little, I loved this picture book about a boy (I think) who lived in an apartment building and thought his neighbor was a witch. When she invites him over for Halloween, he learns that she's actually a kind woman who's just batty enough to be charming. The only other details I recall are that she does yoga and she uses a wiry strand of her own hair to pick a lock on a doorknob. She may have had a bunch of cats, too. (Is this sounding random enough, yet?) I can't remember the name of the book, but I've been looking for it for years. If you recognize it, please let me know in the comments! I would be most grateful. We're talking mid- to late-eighties era.

3. Movie.

4. Costume. One year in college, I glued a line of little plastic spiders crawling out of my ear and down my neck and bobby-pinned fake cockroaches and a rubber rat into my hair. I completed the look with plain, blue hospital scrubs and went about my campus business as if everything were completely normal. I'm not gonna lie. People were impressed. Alas, I did not get a picture, but you can believe it was pretty awesome.

4a. Costume. No, I have never dressed up as Ian McKellen for Halloween, but I do like the idea. With a t-shirt like that, you could be Ian McKellen, you could be Gandalf, you could be Magneto, or Magdalf, or Ganneto, or some strange combination of all five. See what I mean? Brilliant.

5. Treat. Witch's Brew, because dry ice is fun. (But also dangerous, kids.)

6. Memory. When I was in 5th grade, my school had a Halloween story contest. I took first prize: a package of Reese's peanut butter cups plus a tiny notion of, Hey, maybe I should look into this writing thing . . .

If you're curious about this embarrassingly self-aware, somewhat preachy baby writing attempt, I've included the story below.
Wow, you really want to read this, huh? Okay, but keep in mind that I was eleven when I wrote it. Also, I was a strange child. Here it is, unedited (even though I really wanted to). *cringes, plugs ears, looks away*

"A Nightmare to Remember"

The girl screamed! Geneva jumped. "It's only a movie, silly." Andy, her five-year-old brother giggled. She blushed. He was her baby-sitting charge for the night. He was also seven years younger than her. Even he wasn't afraid of "Aracnophobia."

The storm raged outside, brushing the trees up against her family room window. It made them look like they were alive. Yep, she thought. It's definitely October.

Geneva looked at the clock and gasped. She clicked off the T.V. and said, "Time for bed." Andy sighed, and followed her up to his room. He was very obedient for his age.

Geneva helped her brother put on his pajamas and brush his teeth. He was rather stubby, with straight brown hair and sparkling green eyes.

On the other hand, Geneva was tall and thin. Her long, blond hair fell in loose curls around her shoulders. Her eyes were a dull blue. She had high cheekbones.

She reluctantly kissed her brother good night and went into her own room. Geneva changed into her night shirt and crawled into her bed. Her parents were due home soon. The house was full of creaks and snaps. Then it fell dead silent.

She heard a voice singing in the distance. The voice was eerie, yet beautiful. She arose out of bed, and was suddenly walking along a beach. She wanted to turn and run back to her bed. But the voice beckoned her. It dragged her on.

The water wasn't crashing up over the rocks like any normal beach. Yet it was just sitting there. The water was black. It sent chills up and down Geneva's spine. The air was very foggy.

Finally, she came to a boat. It was shaped like a canoe. But it was much wider.

There was a man standing next to the boat. He wore a black cloak. The hood covered his eyes. Geneva approached him. He took off the hood. His eyes were a deep yellow. He said nothing, but helped her step into the boat.

She could still hear the voice. It got louder as the man pushed it off the bank and slowly paddled across the black ocean.

Out of the fog appeared an island. The boat docked. Geneva and the man stepped out of it.

The man led her through a spooky forest. She could no longer hear the voice. Only music. And a whole bunch of different voices. The man led her through a clearing. There was a huge pot. It bubbled over. And a fire was lit under it. Geneva saw witches, gravestones, ghosts, demons, and jack-o-lanters. They were all singing and dancing. But the jack-o-lanterns weren't ordinary. They were alive. They danced around on skinny green legs.

When they were out of the clearing, Geneva heard the voice again.

The man led her through a clump of trees, and into another clearing. Geneva saw a figure standing in the clearing. The figure turned around, and looked her straight in the eye. It was a woman. It was her that had been singing. She was the most gorgeous creature Geneva had ever seen. Her long, black hair was pulled in a loose knot behind her head. Her eyes were so brown they were nearly black. Her skin was smooth and young and slightly pale.

Geneva turned her attention to a large black cat the woman was stroking in her arms.

"Geneva, you came." The woman startled her with the words. "I am Devauna."

"Where am I?" Geneva asked.

"Don't you know? You are on the island of Halloween. The most magical place in creation." The woman replied.

"Why am I here?" Geneva asked. She was full of questions.

"I am Devauna, the ruler of this island, and the creator of Halloween. All of the other holidays are about good and happiness. So I created a holiday that was all about ghosts and demons. The human race naturally added on to that. They created jack-o-lanterns and vampires and so on. I also wanted it to be fun for children. I loved seeing the children put on costumes and go walking around their neighborhoods, trying to get candy and treats. I sent my demons out to the world to see how Halloween was getting along. But when they returned, they told me that the world had taken advantage of Halloween. Teenagers used it as a night for nasty ticks and pranks. It caused great unhappiness. I didn't mean for Halloween to be unhappy. I wanted it to be great fun. And scary. I am a good witch. I really am."

"Yes, but why am I here?" Geneva asked.

"I need your help. I need a part of you, Geneva. I need a part that only an innocent child can give me. I need a part of your heart. The part that is dedicated only to Halloween. You must give it to me Geneva. You must. But you do not have to do it now." The witch set the cat down. "Here." She slipped a silver ring on to Geneva's left ring finger. It glowed a green light. "Take this. When you are ready, twist it once to the left, then three times to the right." Devauna said.

The man took her hand and led her back to the boat. They paddled across the black ocean once again. He left her there on the lonely beach.

Geneva's eyes shot open. The morning light poured through her bedroom window. It was only a dream! She laughed out loud.

She jumped out of bed and looked at her hand. Then she turned ghostly pale. There, on the ring finger of her left hand was the silver ring that Devauna had given her.

It was real. Every moment of that ghastly nightmare had been real. She couldn't deny it. The proof was right in front of her.


Robin said...

I have a kiddo who loves holidays and Halloween is near the top of her list. She reminds me to have fun and Halloween is nothing if not fun. Plus, I love pumpkins. A lot. And costumes. A lot. And candy. A lot.

William Kendall said...

Terrific story!

The question is, of course... would Gandalf and Magneto team up to take out Leigh Teabing?

Maegan Langer said...


Um, who's Leigh Teabing?

Russo said...

Okay, your Halloween costume rocks-holy cow, originality. And i sat here and played the videos, just in halloween bliss. Thanks girl for a great post, you helped me zone out after a stressful day.

plus i love the pic.