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Samhain flashback

“Wendy, can I see your costume?” I heard my mom call to me as I put the remaining touches on my costume. I marched into the living room,” Do I look like Hermione?” I asked. “Very much” she laughed as she scooped up Dylan (my two-year-old brother) who was hitting her legs. I turned on my cell phone. I had two new messages from Emmett and Alex. “Mom I gotta go meet Ron and Harry,” I joked, because Emmett was dressing as Ron and Alex was dressing as Harry Potter. “Have fun” she called as she carried Dylan into her bedroom. I ran out the door, my very un-Hermione-ish handbag over my shoulder for trick or treating. It was chilly outside, and I ran to Alex’s house, where I was meeting him and Emmett. Alex and Emmett are my best friends. People think that’s weird that I have two boys as best friends, but really it isn’t. Alex and Emmett were sitting on the front steps as I neared, panting. Emmett looked amused, “Someone chasing you?” he asked slyly. “Ha-ha” I muttered sarcastically. Alex quietly adjusted his round black Harry Potter glasses. We examined each other’s costumes. “Not bad,” Alex praised. And with that, we set off to trick or treat. Little did I know that this night would be the weirdest night of my life.
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It was dark out, and children screamed and ran around. Doorbells rang in the background, incomprehensible conversations floated all around us. Then we reached our first house, Jack-o-lanterns lined the front gate. “Here we go!” Emmett joked, shoving Alex, who rolled his eyes and rang the bell. “Trick or treat,” I yelled, then glanced over my shoulder at my two friends who stood silent. They both looked at me like I was crazy. “What?” I whispered. “Wendy, we’re 11. Only little kids say trick or treat” Alex explained as he took off his Harry Potter glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Hey,” I said embarrassed, “it’s tradition.” And then the door opened, and a young man smiled at us, “Hey guys, choose what you want,” he said, holding out a basket with an assortment of chocolates. “Nice,” said Emmett rubbing his hands together. I took two miniature Three Musketeer bars. Alex took one, and Emmett grinned and took three. Together we thanked the nice guy. “You’re welcome,” he grinned, “and great costumes,” he added before shutting the door. Before we were even out the gate, I turned around to see that Emmett had already finished a chocolate bar. “Pig” I muttered and hit him with my bag. Alex joined in “Yeah, pig!” We chased him down the sidewalk laughing. When the laughter died down, we stopped at the nearest house. “Let’s go” Alex laughed. Emmett was breathless. My heart was beating fast from the run. “Great, stairs” groaned Alex. I sighed and climbed up the stairs after Alex and Emmett, and then the strangest sensation hit me. I watched as my two friends climbed the stairs in front. I felt dizzy. I gripped the railing, and then I blacked out. Black, black, and the sensation of falling through a tunnel. A tunnel? My mind questioned. A purple one. Purple? Purple. My mind repeated the word. Then my arms were flailing! I gasped, wishing Alex was here to reassure me, and Emmett was here to laugh at me. Then I hit something, but it wasn’t hard, and it didn’t hurt. I slowly opened my eyes, and peered up into a smiling young woman’s face.
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“Brayden” she said, as I stared up at her dazed. “You were screaming in your sleep.” I could tell she wasn’t speaking in English, but the weird thing was that I understood her. The unknown woman in the weird old-looking clothing continued to stare at me, her smile turning into a frown of concern. “Are you okay?” she asked, leaning toward me. Who was this woman? In my head I replayed what had just happened: I was trick or treating, dressed as Hermione. I looked down at my clothes, which were not mine and very uncomfortable and scratchy. Then I remembered falling, but that was only two minutes ago, so how did I end up in this bed? I exhaled, how long had I been holding my breath? “I’m fine” I said, my voice shaking, this was the only reply I could think of. “OK,” she said softly. “Get ready, we must leave soon.” I scrambled off the bed, as she started to leave the house. “Wait…why, where are we going?” The woman paused, “Brayden” she said, her eyebrows wrinkling. “It’s Samhain.” And then she was gone. Samhain? I wondered. What was going on? Don’t worry, you’re probably just dreaming, the optimist in my head spoke. No, said the pessimist, you’re probably stuck here; you’ll never get home. Feeling weak, I sat back down on a bed that wasn’t mine. One thing was for sure, There was no way this could be real!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I stumbled and ran around the unfamiliar room, searching for something to wear. The room was dusty and dark but I finally found a long colorful knitted dress, that never in a million years would I have worn but I was desperate. I threw it on and then left the strange one room house. I closed the door behind me, and wandered outside. “Brayden!” The woman called waving “you look beautiful.” She came forward with an arm full of fruit and placed it on the doorstep. She stepped back and pursed her lips, “So the bad spirits don’t come,” she said, staring down at the fruit. “Well, we’d best get going,” she said finally looking up “It’s getting dark.” I looked up at the sky; sure enough it looked like the sun was setting. I followed her, bewildered. We approached a wagon, a beautiful horse pacing was attached to it. The woman climbed in, and watched me as I jumped in too. Then, the horse was running. My hair blew in the fierce wind, and I had no idea what was going on, who Brayden was, or why this woman thought I was her. I didn’t know why I was here, or where I was. But at that moment I felt a small hint of pleasure.


* * * * * * * * * * * *

A huge bonfire flickered on and off. Crowds of people were gathering around it. “Afton” I heard a man call. The woman, who had brought me here and kept on calling me Brayden, whirled around. Aha! Afton was her name. “Angus” she called delighted. He came over, hugged me, and said hello. Was this man my father? “Shall we sit?” He gestured, towards the fire, and we walked forward and sat down. Afton smoothed her dress and sat down too, never taking her eyes off Angus. I looked around; everywhere there were people wearing animal heads and furs. Was this Samhain? Then it struck me, this seemed an awful lot like Halloween. My eyes scanned the area. People were carrying baskets filled with fruit; one man had a dead chicken. Next to me, Angus and Afton were talking. I nudged Afton, “Why does that man have a dead chicken?” She looked shocked. “That’s not funny Brayden.” “No, really,” I pressed. “Why?” Afton’s eyebrows narrowed, “To sacrifice, honestly, where have you been?” Then she turned back to Angus. Sure enough, people were throwing dead animals and fruits into the fire. People were praying, hugging and crying, and then the music started.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

People were dancing! It was dark and chilly out, people with animal heads danced with each other. Little children ran around. People were celebrating. I turned around to see Angus and Afton dancing. The music was foreign and I didn’t know any of these people, but sure enough, soon I was on my feet, copying what everyone else was doing, and it was fun. When we finished dancing Afton nudged me forward, “come” she said and pressed something big and smooth into my arms. We walked closer to the fire, and in the fire’s light I saw what it was, a bone! Afton also had one, she threw it in the fire, so I did the same, and then she wrapped me into a hug, and Angus came and hugged both of us. The bonfire went on for hours, and finally the last flame went out. Angus pulled my hand “run” he yelled, and all of a sudden the whole town was running, and weirdly enough, everyone was yelling, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost,” so I joined in the yelling and running too. Soon a strange sensation came over me. I could still smell the smoke of the fire, but the yells and cheers became fainter in my ears, and then I blacked out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I opened my eyes to find myself pressed up against a railing, holding tight. I released my grip and looked around me. I was no longer at the bonfire; I looked around at the familiar houses of my neighborhood. “Come on Wendy,” Emmett complained. “What are you waiting for? We’re about to ring the bell.” “Whoa.” I muttered. “What?” asked Alex, climbing down the stairs. “What’s the date?” I asked. “October 31, it’s Halloween Dumbo!” Emmett smacked my head, “Why do you think we’re dressed up?” I ignored his question. “Was I gone?” I asked dumbly. “What?” asked Alex. “Never mind,” I said. “Let’s go,” said Emmett. I shook my head. “Come on Wendy,” he yelled. “I’m gonna ring the bell.” “OK, OK,” I yelled, “I’m coming.” We continued to trick or treat, and that was the weirdest night of my life. When I got home I went online and googled “The beginning of Halloween.” A bunch of titles came up saying Samhain. I clicked on them and learned that the Celts had started Halloween, which they called Samhain. To celebrate it, they made sacrifices and built bonfires, and when the bonfire finally went out, they all ran home yelling “the black sow without a tail takes the hindmost.” Hhhmm. I thought, and then unable to wrap my head around it, I shut off the computer.

THE END



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