HALLOWEEN story 1
Updated: Oct 31
Dark edge dipped clouds, moving fast through a sky cross whipped with wires. The wind was picking up and all things looked as if they were sinking or being taken over by a weight from beneath. An upside-down sag or pull. The center of the earth, a metal ball, hanging, swaying gently in its own time, giving way to this season, never new; a redundant toss about of leaves and limbs in the inevitable stabbing rain.
I was awoken by the crunching and popping of tires in the driveway, and pebbles overturned and shot out. I left the room and closed the door softly behind me. The floor moaned under me as I moved through the house. I always try to step carefully in the places I feel this won't happen, trying not to wake her, but it never works out. The snaps and creaks of worn wood are necessary for this old home, perhaps it’s some kind of adjustment; A chiropractic necessity. After I stand for a bit in the dim light, making my first cup of coffee I step through the solarium and into the living room. It’s still the same, the way it was the night before. Things settled and things scattered around, naturally and by design. What had happened? Where was everybody? The party was fine, the company the same, old and new friends leaning about all shrouded up in their best spooky garb, talking and chuckling for what seemed like the first time in years.
The fire outside was a hungry tongue in the night, leaping out at those around, puffing and caving in before being born again, new wood tossed and set aflame without a wink. A big fire in a small pot, sending off its own momentary fireflies, low-hung star dance, a troublesome mobile swirling just beneath the leaves of an aged maple. Throughout the night I would visit, wander through from house to yard and see all the faces, some not their own, and refill drinks, stay for a joke or memory and continue, not once did I settle in until the first thin line of morning light steadily passed over the tops of pines.
Heading over to sit in my chair, I set my cup down at the table's edge and plopping in, my foot settled on something slick. I noticed a mess of pictures coming from underneath, all face down and as I leaned forward with the rocker, more slid out in a landslide, instant photos like a loose string of tickets at an arcade. I reached down and grabbed a few and began looking them over. They were damaged, almost like they had been buried, burned, and crushed.
The images I could make out in those first few were just people from the night before standing around, some faces with heavily painted features looked caught off guard, shocked, frozen in discomfort.
I tossed those aside and picked up more, same responses, different faces, some blurred and some just parts of people, washed out and floating in negative space.
I kept looking and looking and recognizing all the faces, starting to feel uneasy myself. I don’t have an instant camera, I didn’t see one throughout the entire night, who took these, I wondered. Standing, I bent down and picked up what I thought was the rest of them, only leaving space for more to spill out. I picked up the chair and set it aside, noticing a hole, not very big stuffed with more disfigured images. I dropped the photos I had and began pulling from the hole.
One and then another, as I removed them they seemed to be rising, a rise and fall like breaths from under the house, billowing, beckoning. I backed away quickly, it was all so unreal, I felt cold in my core, dizzy, and lost in my own home. I stood and with my hand on the wall, I ran towards the basement door, no longer concerned with noise or waking. I hesitated at the door for a moment, looking down at the gentle slope of the gold knob. At that moment I heard a tapping, quiet, coming from the other side. Constant, tick, tap, louder and louder, the door bows, and leaning away I began to weave. Setting my hand down on the table beside me, I reached out and grabbed the handle, barely pressing down when the door burst wide. A mountain crumbling to the sea, a wave like a thousand horses tackling the distant shoreline of my kitchen, floor to ceiling, millions of instant photos spilled out, taking over everything around me. I could hear the now soft calling of my name. I could hear footsteps and then a steady retreat. I could hear the first drift of crow speak outside. Consumed by images collected by unknown hands, I lay weighted and slowly slipping from this life, this day I thought would welcome more days, shorter days, but days nonetheless. My chest slows, my hand gripping an image. An image stained that I cannot see, but just then I remember like a song hummed and wondered. This memory pulled tight like a zip tie around my neck, recall in my last breath. Someone had come and left the camera on the floor. I had never seen this person before, I thought then that they must be the friend of a guest, invited and forgotten, like many ingredients in a night's social soup. They were older than the rest of us, short, and wearing plain clothes. They had on what looked like a handmade hat, too small for them and simple. Yet there were multiple spires of thorns twisting skyward. Loose roots hanging mixed with their long thinning hair and torn fray of fabric from the base of the shapes. I thought it to be a wonderful half costume when I saw them at that moment. It was them and their unknown passing through that left it and it was me who found it. For better or worse it was left here with me and I excepted the invitation. It was me who couldn’t stop photographing, tossing them out, and continuing more and more. Flashing and snapping, following my friends and shedding more photos, blank undeveloped, tumbling to the floor, that’s what drove them away! In my loose and smothered hand there is that photo, of an empty room, a mirror, and my reflection dirtied with time, smiling, alone, and draped in the black veil of oblivion.
No matter what we think we know, whether we feel we are the ones in control or not when searching for a camera, it isn’t always up to us. When we are at our most vulnerable, our most explorative and open yet we can’t decide or maybe we feel our mind was made up; It finds us, it chooses you, and with you, it will stay, with you it will keep, and be your keeper, to have and to hold, to record or forget, it is not up to you and it never will be.