The sky was gray and the dark clouds didn’t allow any sun to shine through.
“What a beautiful day! Perfect for the party tonight!” Mrs. Reaper said.
She walked over to the kitchen sink and continued washing dishes.
“Mom no one is going to like me.” said Lily as she took another bite of her cereal.
“That’s nonsense! You’re a wonderful girl even though your outlook is a little . . . Different.”
She walked over to the table and sat down across from her. “Just wait. You’ll see.” She touched Lily’s arm and smiled.
Lily waited at the bus stop with the other kids and no one said anything to her at all. The bus ride was long and everyone seemed to have something to talk about with Halloween night being tonight.
Then she remembered the invitations her mother had put in her backpack. She pulled them out and got up from her seat.
“My family is having a Halloween party tonight and everyone is invited.” She yelled over the crowd on the bus. She held up the invitations. “Here is the invitations.” She handed a handful to the boys sitting behind her and another handful to the girls sitting in front of her. She wasn’t sure if anyone was listening or cared, but Lily had done what her mother had asked her to do. Still no one spoke to her on the way to school.
Her first class was history. Which was easy for Lily. The girls sitting next to her seemed not to get it and was writing down the wrong answers.
“Betsy Ross . . .” Lily whispered to the girl with the short brown hair. The girls eyes lit up and she smiled.
“Thanks.” She whispered back and fixed her paper.
After class the girl walked up to her. “That was nice of you. I’m Amanda. What’s your next class?” Amanda said smiling and walking beside her.
“Litature. A Mrs. Storm.” Lily replied feeling good about helping the girl.
“Oh . . . She is really hard, but I’m great at lit, not history. If you need any help just ask.”
“Would you like to go to a Halloween party tonight at my house? Parents are invited too.” She held out an invitation.
“Really! That is so cool! Can I bring my friends?” She asked fumbling her books in her arms to take the invitation.
“Yes. Here is ten more. Invite anyone you want. My mom always throws the most elaborate parties for Halloween.” Lily said pulling out more invitations. This time placing them in her backpack so she wouldn’t drop her books.
“Thanks again!” Amanda yelled as she continued down the hall to her next class.
Lilly smiled. “I made a friend.” she thought to herself and walked in to Miss Strom’s class.
The class room walls were painted gray and the teacher looked rather angry about something sitting behind her oversized desk. Lily walked up to Miss Strom and handed her the slip of paper saying she was to be in this class. She tipped her glasses without removing her angry look and stared at it, then at Lily, then pointed to a desk at the font of the class. Lily thought her mother and this woman might get along very well, even if she didn’t smile once during her class.
When the bell rang Lily slowly put her assignments and books into her bag, till all the students were gone. “Miss Strom?” Lily spoke with a quiet voice.
“Yes.” She answered sternly.
“My mother is having a Halloween party tonight. We are new to the area and she told me to invite everyone.” She held out an invitation to the teacher who look like she might eat students.
One eyebrow raised and her face softened. She took the invitation from Lily’s hand. “Thank you. No student has ever invited me to a party before.” Then a thin smile crossed her lips. I nodded and excused myself. “One more class, then lunch, then two more classes.” thought Lily.
At science Lily handed everyone in the class an invitation including Mr. Jekyll, the goofy science teacher. He was great fun in class and everyone seemed to have a great time. Lunch was here and Lily hoped that Amanda would let her sit with her at her table. After standing in line and getting what they called food on her tray she saw Amanda at a table with four other girls. Lily smiled at Amanda and Amanda waved her over. A sigh of relief escaped her mouth as she walked over to the table.
During lunch Amanda and her friends, Shelly, Veronica, Eva, and Pandora, were all talking about what they were going to wear to the party and asking if I had invited any boys, will there be games or dancing, and a few hundred more questions about the party. Lily answered the questions simply and smiled. “Don’t forget to invite your parents too. Or my mother will be mad and no one wants to see my mother mad, especially me.” Lily liked being the center of attention and quietly smiled to herself on her way to the next class.
The rest of the day went pretty much the same. By the end of the day the whole school knew about the Halloween party and even the older kids were asking for invitations. The school bus on the way home was different too. All the kids were talking to Lily and asking about the party. Lily told them that they have been throwing the biggest Halloween parties since before she was even born and that everyone would have a great time.
Lily walked into a fully decorated home. The webs were up, candles lit, the pumpkins carved and ready to be lit. The smell of apples, cookies, cakes, and chocolates filled the hallways and drifted upstairs. “I invited everyone at school, including the teachers. I almost didn’t have enough invitations.”
“That’s wonderful! We will have a full house tonight! Go upstairs and get ready. People should be arriving here in a couple of hours.” She pushed me along to the stairway and happily strolled along the room still preparing the house.
The doorbell rang. The door creaked as it opened slowly. The first guest walk-in to the main entrance hall. A boy dressed as a werewolf grips his father’s hand. Bang! The doors closed behind them and the candles flicker. Both the father and son jump and grip each other tighter.
“Welcome!” Mrs. Reaper proclaims at the top of the staircase. She opens her arms wide and makes a slight curtsy. “You are the first to arrive. Let me show you to the living room where you can enjoy the refreshments. The festivies will not begin till the others arrive.”
A set of double doors creaked open wide. Lily stood behind them with her bright pink princess dress with a little silver crown. She smiled widely and opened her arm toward the center of the room.
The first guests walked into the living room and Lily directed them to the refreshment table where a large punch bowl filled with a dark red liquid sat in the center of all the goodies her mother had prepared. “My mother made everything herself. Please have as much as you like.”
After twenty minutes or so, everyone started showing up at once, and mother decided it was time for a tour of the house. She led 20 guest through the foyer, around the kitchen, into the dinning room, up the back stairs which creaked with every step, into the upper levels of the house. As mother walked by the candles would light by themselves which bothered quite a few guests. Inside the library, quite a few books began falling from the shelves, sending a few back down the stairs into the safety of the living room, but the majority stuck it out. As they continued she began to lead the group into the attic, and the guests all agreed that they were quite satisfied and did not need to see the attic at this time.
“Very well, but I always find attics to be one of the most interesting parts of an old house.” The guests all filed down the main stairs that led back to the foyer and gathered in the living room for chit-chat and goodies followed by a wide smiling Mrs. Reaper.
Amanda and her friends had showed up as vampires, and looked wonderfully fitting to the décor. Lily greeted them with a curtsy and asked if they would like a tour of the garden and the cemetery out back. They all seemed very excited and ready for whatever may come.
“Right this way.” Lily said as she led them through the kitchen out the back door. A tall hedge maze, towered in front of them.
“I never knew there was a hedge maze behind this house. It looks like it’s been here forever.” Lily only smiled and handed each of them a lit lantern.
“Just incase we all don’t make it out by sunset.” The girls all looked at each other in concern, then mischievous smiles appeared on their faces. “Let’s go.” Said Lily with a smile. Lily knew the way easily through the maze and walked very quickly turning left, then right and right again. Then Lily began to speed up turning this way and that, till she had lost one girl after another, till they were all lost in the maze. Lily came to the graveyard and sat on a bench with her lantern waiting for the girls to find their way.
The sun had set and the girls, clutching one another, came out of the maze. Lily stood up and smiled. “This way, I’ll introduce you to many of my deceased relatives.” And she began to skip further into the graveyard.
“Why did you run through the maze so fast, Lily?” Amanda asked still clutching Eva’s hand.
“It’s Halloween. Everyone should get a little bit scared.” and then Lily stopped at a ornate marble headstone.”This is my great-great grandfather who was killed over five dollars and a pocket watch. He was a wonderful singer. Sometimes you can still hear it when the wind blows just right.” They all stood and listened and suddenly a deep somber voice began to hum Yankee Doodle. The girls all jumped and began to run. “Wait! I haven’t gotten to my great aunts, but they were already back in the maze. “Oh well, bye Great Gramps. I’ll come by later to hear the rest of your song.”
She caught up to the girls in the maze and led them back to the house. The girls were all talking about how scared they were and laughing about it as they reached the house. The party was now in full swing with music playing, people eating all sorts of sweets, and playing simple games.
Lily saw Mrs. Strom sitting quietly on a bench by herself. Lily went and sat down beside her. “Are you not having a good time, Mrs. Strom?”
“I am fine, just not used to parties.” Mrs. Storm replied with that tight lipped scowl on her face.
“Well, I think you and my mother would get along splendidly. She loves a lady with a hard, demanding stare. Let me introduce you.” Lily said as she pulled on Mrs. Storm’s arm, till she complied. Lily dragged her through the backdoor, into the kitchen. Mrs. Reaper was standing over a large cast iron pot, stirring ingredients as it boiled away. “Mom, this is Mrs. Strom, my literature teacher.”
“Oh! I love books, we have quite an extensive collection of first editions in our Library upstairs. Those books have a mind of their own.” said Mrs. Reaper as she continued to stir.
“First editions?” Mrs. Strom inquired with her eyebrows raised.
“Oh yes! They have been in our family for many generations. I know we have Jules Vern, Mary Shelly, H.G. Wells, Alfred Bester, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bram Stoker just to name a few of my favorites.” She continued as she began ladling the thick liquid into tea cups on a tray. “My family has always enjoyed the dark side of fiction.”
“Very interesting. Those books must be worth a fortune. Have you had them appraised?” Mrs. Strom asked with her scowl never wavering.
“No need to. They will continue to be passed along to future generations as they should be. Care for a cup of my special concoction? It’s very sweet, and warms the soul.” Mrs. Reaper asked as she placed a tea cup in her hand. Mrs. Strom eyebrows came together as she smelled the strange brew, and took a tiny sip. Suddenly her expression changed to pure delightment. The scowl was replaced with a tight lipped smile and her eyebrows lifted, and relaxed. “Now don’t you feel a million times better? Let’s join the party outside.” And with that Mrs. Strom and Mrs. Reaper went outside to share the warm thick brew with the other parents.
The night continued on till the moon was high above the trees. The party had been successful, and Lily and her mother were thrilled. As one group after another began to give their thanks and leave.”Lily you did a wonderful job this Halloween. Our home was full of life and joy.” Mrs. Reaper told her daughter as she hugged her tight to her side.
“Thanks mom.” Lily said as they went back inside their home.
The weekend passed and school started back up, but no one saw Lily again at school. Amanda asked everyone if they had heard from her and no one had. At the end of the week Amanda asked Mrs. Strom if she would go with her to check on Lily. Mrs. Strom smiled and said that she would and then give her a ride home afterwards. Ever since the party Mrs. Strom had be relaxed and had a nice smile to replace her normal scowl.
They drove up the dirt drive to Lily’s home and the place stood still and quiet. Mrs. Strom knocked on the door. But no answer. She checked the knob and it was unlocked. Inside was dusty, and the furniture covered in white sheets. “Maybe they moved.” said Mrs. Strom as they moved through to the kitchen, which looked neglected even worse. They walked out the back, and the maze was gone, only a few dead bushes stood where the tall hedges had been and the graveyard was easy to navigate to.
Amanda clutched tighter to Mrs. Strom as she walked to the graveyard. Amanda gasped as she noticed the bench had a statue of a girl dressed just like Lily had been that night with a latern by her side. On the bench was 2 dates,Born October 31, 1964 and Died October 31, 1975. Mrs. Strom read the inscription,
A Halloween Princess now and forever. May your death bring life to the dead this day.
Mrs. Strom smiled. “Thank you Lily for a wonderful party.” She took Amanda home with a keeping thought, Life to the dead, and the dead to life. Which is what Lily had done for her and many others that Halloween night.
The sky was gray and the dark clouds didn’t allow any sun to shine through.