Her handmade centerpieces are tastefully crafted with ribbons, silk flowers and little ceramic birds, rabbits and dogs with their heads tilted to the side.
It’s always a treat to sit at Camila’s table for a meal.
But the meal that Camila’s family and friends enthusiastically look forward to is the one that Camila prepares for Halloween.
The table is set with her best china, her finest crystal and her polished and well sharpened cutlery collection.
Dried sunflower and corn stalks are tied together with heavy twine and bunches of them lean against the kitchen door, the front door, the attic door and the basement door.
Uncarved pumpkins and gourds are scattered around the dining room, the living room and in the corridors that connect the rooms together.
In vases and jars are flowers- living roses, bunches of silk seasonal flowers, all of them arranged artfully, like pictures in a magazine in various stages of decay.
For Camila’s Halloween dinner, her guests arrive by moonlight in long black cars and they walk right in because – as they will tell you, Camilia’s house is their home away from home.
They chat with each other, with Camila’s cats and dogs but they all have one eye on the door that leads to the dining room, when Camilia asks them to join her at the table their collective sigh sounds like a chilly autumn breeze blowing across an empty field at midnight.
As her dinner party start to take their seats, they hear the kitchen door swing open on it’s rusted hinges. A cool blast of air swarms down the hall and the candles in the living room and dining room flicker and just when it looks like they’re going to be snuffed out they flare up instead.
Camila’s guests, seated around her table don’t turn their heads towards the hall to see if they can catch a glimpse of who has made their way, along with the chilly night air to Camila’s Halloween dinner party.
Their eyes are locked hungrily upon Camila’s face.
She motions for them to sit and she smiles warmly at them.
” Dinner is served. ” she whispers.
” Hello? ” the voice calls to them from the hallway ” is anyone here? Hello?”
They hear a few more footsteps and then, ” Hey, Sam- it’s Adrian. Yeah, I’m here, but look the invoice has to be wrong. Well. Because this house is abandoned. It’s full of dead plants and leaves and crap. Fine. Yes. I will. In the dining room. So does this Cook person have to sign for it? No? Good. Because like I said, nobody is here. Uh huh. I’ll be back in an hour.
The man seated at Camila’s left looks up at her and whispers gleefully, ” dinner sounds perfectly delicious. What do you have planned for dessert, you wicked thing.”
Camila brings her glass to her lips. ” It’s running late, but I’m sure Cook will have no probblem catching it, too.
Our neighborhood doesn’t get Trick or Treaters anymore.
We haven’t had visits from ghosts or vampires or werewolves or mummies or a single witch for years.
The neighborhood kids go to the Mall or to festivals for their Halloween loot.
Those of us that are left behind sit around and eat candy that no one collects and we
don’t even bother to carve pumpkins anymore.
On our way home from the movies, I asked Victor:
” Don’t you think it’s strange not to see a single Devil or Pirate or toilet paper streaming down from a tree or two?”
He said it did seem odd.
” I think it’s depressing. Not a single costumed monster or little kids dressed up like food or candy.”
I searched through my purse and found my mints. Mints calm me when I start to feel stressed.
” One night, one night where anyone can be anything they want and be rewarded for it. And what do they do? They go to the Mall. I despair for humanity.”
Victor said he saw my point.
” I love Halloween so. ” I popped another mint, rolled the window down and let the crisp night air chill my bones.
When we got home our street was pumpkinless, decoration free, there wasn’t a ghoul or a zombie or a hippie to be seen.
” I guess that’s it for tonight. What a bust. Guess we can turn in for the evening.” I pouted.
” We could still go out, ” Victor said touching my cheek which began to grow wider as my jaw grew heavier and fine silver wisps of fur began to spread from my forehead down over my throat to my widening rib cage.
” I’d stick out like a sore thumb. One night. I used to have one night when I could go out and be like everybody else. People suck. I hope they all get brain rot from their cellphones.”
I got out of our car and slammed the car door shut, and then I dropped to my knees and fell forward.
I let out a howl.
Then I sadly trailed up the walk to our door, dragging my tail behind me.