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All Who Fight
October 31, 2012
Living next to a cemetery, my Halloweens and birthday parties have never been normal. It’s an interesting experience, people asking me if I have ghosts for friends. I don’t. I can feel ghosts, though. I can talk to them, and they talk to me.
“Halloween tomorrow,” My older brother beckons, taunting me like he always does. “Witching hour is especially frightful. Are we going?”
My niece pipes up. “What’s witching hour, Auntie?”
“Dear, it’s midnight to four in the morning. It’s said that in those four hours, the ghosts come out to play,” I turn to Brett. “What kind of question is that?” I shoot back, we know how to play it.
“See you tonight.” My brother jumps up and leaves, I don’t know where he’s going. He’s very mysterious like that: no one knows when he comes and when he goes.
October 31, 2012. Fifteen minutes to Witching Hour.
I lace up my sneakers and tip toe down the stairs to the door, thank God for new houses: not a noise. My parents aren’t home anyhow, out trick-or-treating with my younger brother, brought him to a friend’s, then went to a party. Isn’t it great when your parents have more of a social life than you? I suppose all is how it is supposed to be.
My feet hit the pavement in such a synchronized fashion I almost forget that I’m going to witching hour. This isn’t my first time, just my first on Halloween, apparently it’s quite the experience. I creep into the cemetery, clad in my best sweater and jeans.
A very assured sound leaves my mouth, “Brett?” Nothing. He’s late. “Hey Brett, this isn’t cute. Get it in gear!” Nothing. So, I head deeper into the cemetery when I hear someone who sounds scarily like me repeat what I said not too long ago. “This isn’t cute, get in gear!” It echos back, so loud it makes my ears ring.
“Whose there? Brett? Anyone?” Desperation trembles from my lips. It’s witching hour now. Midnight. I sing my favorite song to comfort myself, “Of all the money that e’er I had, I spent it in good company...And of all the harm that e’er I've done, alas it was to none but me...”
From very close to me, I hear the next line to the song: “And all I've done for want of wit, to memory now I cannot recall. So fill to me the parting glass. Goodnight and joy be with you all...”
“Who. Is. Here? Who is here with me and how do you know that song!” There is no response. My steps become more calculated and I start singing again, “Of all the comrades that e’er I had, they are sorry for my going away, and of all the sweethearts that e’er I had, they would wish me one more day to stay...” I step on something: Brett! He’s laying dead next to a faded gravestone, scratches and fight marks all over his now limp body. I have no time to grieve, for as I expected, the strange voice with an eerie likeness to mine responds. “But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not, I’ll gently rise and I'll softly call, goodnight and joy be with you all...”
Thinking I have learned, I move on, singing. “A man may drink and not be drunk...” and the voice, behind me if my ears serve me correctly, screams: “A man may fight and not be slain!”
I turn around and come face to face with...myself. My breath is taken away and I am pushed to the ground. Fingers and a hand that come out of nowhere scratch and rip at my face, but I break loose. “Who are you and why are you me!”
“You are the impostor! YOU! I have to kill you!” The apparition screamed at me, and at the same time, I fall to the ground and feel as if someone is sitting on top of me, punching me in the mouth repeatedly. I roll over, and try to get on top of the apparition, but it’s gone. “A man may court a pretty girl, and perhaps be welcomed back again...” I whisper, coaxing the ghost, knowing it cannot resist.
“But since it has so ordered been, by a time to rise and a time to fall...” the ghost sings sweetly, more sweetly than it should be able. A gust of wind comes up behind me and something scratches my back, so my sweater is teared and I am bleeding. This is not a ghost, it is a demon.
The demon picks me up and throws me, “You do not understand, you ignorant child!” I hit the ground and shoot back, “Tell me then, TELL ME! Why don’t I understand!”
Everything went quiet, and the wind seemed to suck itself back into the atmosphere. “Hello?” I asked the air, but no response.
I look up and see the gravestone in front of me:
SYDNEE A. HARRIS
JOY BE WITH YOU ALL