My Obsession This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
Boo! Rah!"

Yes, even though I survived icy stares from a zombie pushing a corpse in a baby buggy and a gangly, white-faced janitor wielding a brain on a broomstick, I still managed to get startled by the ghost pirate who stalked random bridge-crossers at Six Flags' Fright Fest. Fun, eh?

My friends laughed as a bloody convict banged his chains violently. They laughed as they dragged me into "Necropolis - The Haunted City of the Dead."

"Uh, I have to go to the bathroom. Go on ahead," I insisted. Please, don't make me go in there.

"Where's your Halloween spirit?"

My Halloween is not your Halloween. God decided to take my Halloween spirit two Octobers ago when He took -

"Oh, come on. Jesus, Tiff."

Jesus. He's the last one on our mind when we walk through a haunted graveyard. Still, solemn funerals in a church are as closely related to death as the grim reaper or that creepy, rotting skeleton host of "Tales from the Crypt." The difference is the fact that we mourn at funerals but squeal in terror (dee-lightful terror, of course!) at Dracula popping out of his coffin. Why do we see death as the ultimate in traumatic experiences, but for that black-and-orange streaked tenth month of the year we go to great lengths to expose ourselves to it? Ultimately, why do we like being scared?

As my friends spent a few minutes in the haunted house, I waited safely outside. Every couple of minutes another group would come screaming out the exit, short of breath, clinging to each other, and then finally giggling, "You should have seen your face when that guy almost grabbed your leg!"

"Yeah, let's do it again!" Again? What is it that makes this torturous activity so fun? Adrenaline. Being scared gives us a rush. Adrenaline induced by actual danger is used to fight, or run, or lift a car off somebody. When the rush is simulated, it becomes a fun, natural high. We know the danger causing it isn't real, so we use that energy to, say, dig our nails into our friend's arm, instead. It's a matter of simple biological reasoning ... but what about the metaphysical aspects?

After the haunted house, we strolled through the park. I looked around in silent terror: Everything was freshly covered in cobwebs, the rivers and fountains were dyed red (blood red, muah, ha, ha), and the lawns were littered with rotting corpses and headstones ("Here Lies I. L. Beeback"). Death decorated every window and hung on every tree.

"You guys," I said. "This is so morbid."

"Yeah, I know. Isn't it great?"

Maybe. People simulate death - dressing up like mummies and ghosts, putting caskets and guillotines on their lawns at the first crack of October - not only for the physical satisfaction of being excited, but because it makes them feel at ease about the most frightening mystery of life. We, as humans, are obsessed with death. If we can embrace that obsession in the comfort of our own neighborhood and the company of our friends, it makes it that much easier to deal with, right?

No. I know it's artificial. I know it's all fun and games. I know it, I know that it's plastic, latex, corn syrup. But to me, death isn't a toy - it's death. My Halloween is different, but I am still just like everyone else. I am obsessed with death. Unfortunately, the image of death I carry with me is much too morbid to put out on the lawn. While my friends have fun trying to get a rise out of me with a Michael Myers mask, I can't help but picture a car crash, and a soft, young girl sleeping on a bed of periwinkle satin. Her pearl necklace (did she ever even wear that - it must be an heirloom), the stuffed animals she cradled under her limp, clean hands (Why were they so clean?), flowers, songs ... tears. I am obsessed with death.

I am haunted, not by ghosts, but by that weekend, that day, that God-forsaken Friday and that all-too-

perfect Halloween morning when death stepped out

of the plastic and wax realm of the costume aisle at Wal*Mart and became real to me. I wish, I wish I could still have fun on Halloween, oh, trick-or-treat-smell-my-feet-boo-I-scared-you, yes! But real-death has corrupted me to a point where fun-death just doesn't exist in my mind anymore. I am too scared. I am too scared of the reality to indulge myself in the fantasy. The memory is still dangerously close to the front of my mind. My newly developed picture of death was taken with a soft lens ... white, so white, and so warm ... but it's scarier to me than the creepiest skeleton. This nightmare, this beautiful nightmare, frustrates me beyond words, beyond tears. And I am obsessed with it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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