Bewildering Stories

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Of Judith and the Night

by Dustin LaValley

On this street there is a house that denies its existence tonight. Its lawn does not bear humorous tombstones or the flaming grins of jack-o-lanterns. There is no plastic skeleton to dance in the breeze, no bones swaying to the cacophonic screams of horror soundtracks.

Inside this house lives Judith, a woman who desires to ignore the presence of Halloween.

She sits motionless in her chair. Staring contentedly at the snow frizzing and popping within the television screen. This helps to relax her. Helps her mind drift into the past, to confront those memories of this night, an anniversary of sorrow. The house is dark and silent, save for the glow of the television, and the faint thumping of her son’s stereo. The absence of light and sound keeps away the children. It convinces them that this house is empty and there is no candy to be treated to. Keeps the miniature monsters with their pumpkin pails, skipping by to the next bowl of sweets.

As she sits alone with her memories, Samuel slips from his bedroom window, and creeps across the lawn and into the street.

Judith closes her eyes and sees her late husband, his handsome face full of glass and blemished with blood. She reaches out to touch him — as she had done in their car on that Halloween night — and feels not his sticky flesh, but the stale air. Then suddenly, his words come from all directions; they speak to her of forgiveness and love. This phantom interaction provokes emotions; as she begins to cry, he begins, “Your tears are the beginning. The start of your healing...”

Samuel sits upon his father’s grave in a moonlit cemetery. He speaks of the days that have passed since his last visit. A year ago, to be exact. He talks about his highs and lows, of his pains and pleasures, and of his mother’s health. He knows that if his father could hear him, he would care to be told of her the most.

Judith has never visited his grave. She couldn’t handle the sight of his gravestone, physical guilt. For she was the one who had insisted they would need more candy for the children. She had always blamed herself for his death, for the accident. But, tonight she had to confront her guilt. Her son was not to be found at home. And somehow, she knew where he would be. This year, he would not have to grieve alone.

Samuel finishes with the words, “I miss you” and strolls back towards the street. Where, upon stepping from the sidewalk, he’s startled by the squealing of tires, and spins around to face a pair of headlights.

Copyright © 2004 by Dustin LaValley

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