Halloween

I get obsessed with things a lot. Like Netflix. Right now, it’s American Horror Story, previously it’s been House of Cards(which I watched to the bitter end) Suits (naw, eventually got tired of Harvey and Mike behaving as if they were Bruce and Cybil in Moonlighting) and The Returned(lasted two episodes and …pun alert…haven’t gone back yet). What is it about these series that make them so addictive? I have gone through the first series, Murder House, in two days and still managed to have a semblance of a life. I have a theory. I think they are the modern, healthy equivalent of the cigarette. I mean face it, you measure out your day based on fitting in at least half an episode as a treat, at designated times, dependent on being in the right place. A place similar to a smoking area for the smoker.

If you haven’t seen any of American Horror Story, do yourself a favour this Halloween break and watch one of the series. It’s bonkers enough and too far from reality to be scary. This stuff could never, ever happen, no matter how much of a ghost believer you are. By the way I recently asked a class of teenage boys if anyone really believed in ghosts and was shocked at how many put their hands up and then proceeded to tell me their stories, including encounters with banshees and a plastic toy that said ‘ choose your activity’ even when the batteries were taken out. That toy scared me more than American Horror Story ever could.

What I liked most about series one, Murder House was the house. It’s the house from all the great horror stories, remember the The Amityville Horror? I couldn’t get enough of that story as a teenager. And it’s the house in the latest offering Crimson Peak, which I really must get to see soon. It’s Hocus Pocus, The Witches of Eastwick, the house where Norman Bates lived with his mother, oh, and it’s the house we stayed in in New England a few Halloweens ago. It was decorated with pumpkins everywhere just like the movies. And the Inn Keeper, yes it was an Inn, an old Victorian Inn, complete with wooden steps leading up to the front door.., the Inn Keeper was a dead ringer for Cathy Bates straight off the set of Misery. There’s another scary house. In fact I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t Cathy, doing a little method acting for her next role. She even had the clíched catch phrase, …fiddlesticks…that terrified me a bit. And get this, there was an underground walkway, read as tunnel, that brought you from the main house to your bedrooms. My daughters were, as they put it themselves, completely freaked out. It was up there with the room we stayed in at a French Chateau that had a spiral iron staircase to a tiny  attic space that had miniature childrens’ furniture including a miniature Victorian pram. But that’s another story…a ghost story.

Every year when Halloween comes around I want to live in one of these Victorian houses in America. I want to be able to decorate it with apples and pumpkins and straw and garlands made from fallen leaves and Autumnal wreaths for the doors, none of your tacky, plastic rubbish that every chain store has been stocking here since late September. I want the kids calling in hokey, homemade costumes that their moms (it’s America, remember) have laboured over for weeks, probably in a little United Moms’ Crafty Club, that met in alternate houses, eating home baking and sewing to their hearts delight. I want to hear authentic accents asking me if I want a trick or treat. Of course I’ll always choose the trick but give the treat anyway. And the treats will be candies, not sweets, candies. It won’t rain. The little monsters with their torches will be running from house to house, like flashing amoeba and I’ll be shouting Happy Halloween across to Mr Wilson or old Mother Alcock who are out on their porches doing the same thing as me. And something will happen. It always does. There’s always a story.

Let me think, what could possibly go wrong? I know. I’m on my own, the children have grown up and moved away. My husband is away on a work trip. I’m lonely. I really would like a nice little girl, just like either one of my girls, to share the Halloween games with me, games like bobbing for apples, when the trick or treating is over. I could invite one of the kiddies in. I could persuade her to stay a while. What could possibly go wrong?

Stay tuned…to be continued…

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Author: paulineclooney11

Pauline Clooney grew up in the Midlands. She is an English, History and Creative Writing teacher. She holds an M.Litt on Charlotte Brontë from NUI Maynooth and a MA in Creative Writing from UCD. She is working on a contemporary novel where the world of amateur drama in Ireland meets the world of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. She has had her stories shortlisted for the RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story competition and the Doolin Short Story competition in 2014. She has been longlisted for the inaugural Colm Tóibin Short Story competition and both the Fish Short Memoir competition (2014) and the Fish Short Story Prize (2015) and was placed second in the Doolin Short Story competition (2015). She won the RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story competition in 2015.

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