Garrett always liked to joke about the name of the street. ” We live on Diamond Street,” he’d say ‘diamond’ in an exaggerated way as if it meant riches. “Say a few ‘Hail Marys’ and ‘Our fathers’ for me,” her Dad told her when she left for church. Rachel wasn’t thinking about prayers though. Halloween was coming up at the end of the week, and Halloween was always a big holiday in Eureka Valley.
“It’s because this section of San Francisco has the most children in all of the city, ” her Dad would say.
The ethnic makeup of the neighborhood was Irish with some Polish and Hispanic over the hill in The Mission. Rachel and her friends planned to cover as large a swath of it as possible with their big grocery bags to hold the loot.
Halloween celebrations started with a costume parade at school. Rachel and her little brother Ben could hardly eat dinner that night for all the excitement. As soon as the sun set they were off with parents trailing behind.
Later in the evening would be the parade on 19th Street hosted by Cliff’s Variety Store. Heading up the procession was a mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex followed by a crowd of costumed kids.
” Will you hold my bag, Mom?” Rachel asked Nora.
“You watch yourself, girl, and don’t get trampled in that crowd. Be sure to hold onto your brother.”
“I’ll be fine. Ben’s holding my hand and Jack is here, too.”
Nora felt that familiar chill. She knew that kids can have an imaginary playmate, but a ghost?
Jack stood next to Rachel. “Tonight is when the spirits can cross over and walk the earth,” he whispered to Rachel in a lilting accent.
“There aren’t any spirits, except you, just lots of kids dressed up in costumes.”
Jack wasn’t so sure about that. A witch standing next to the Frankenstein monster looked like that mean old landlady he had back in Dublin.
” Oh, it’s herself all right.”
“What are you muttering about, Jack? You’re spoilin’ all the fun.”
“Don’t worry Rachie, I’ll keep a look out for you and Bennie.”
In all the excitement Rachel had almost forgotten about her brother who held tightly to her other hand.
“Who ya talkin’ to, Rachie?”
“Oh, nobody. Just talkin’ to myself, Bennie,” Rachel answered as she shot a cool glance at Jack.
“Don’t let go of my hand, Bennie.”
” Don’t worry, I won’t. I don’t like the way that witch is lookin’ at me! She’s creepy with that green goo dripping out of her mouth!”
Rachel shot a wary glance at the witch and squeezed her eyes shut to will her away. When she opened her eyes the ugly crone was gone.
” See that, Jack, you can’t let your imagination run away with you.”
Jack was skeptical, but he couldn’t help smiling at Rachel.
All the children marched behind the dinosaur as the proud parents looked on. Rachel smiled and waved at her mom. That’s when she noticed the ugly witch standing behind Nora and froze.
“What’s a matter, Rachie? Why you stoppin’?” whined Bennie. Rachel looked down at her little brother, and when she glanced back at the crowd, the witch had disappeared.
Jack was wondering why Rachel had stood still as a statue as well. “What’s wrong, Rach?”
” Nothing’s wrong. It’s just all your talk about evil spirits. It’s makin’ me see things!”
But the vision left Rachel with a bad feeling the rest of the evening. She hugged her mom extra hard when she got ready for bed.
” What’s troubling you, girl? You’ve been jumpy as an alley cat ever since we got home.”
“Do you believe evil spirits walk the earth on Halloween, Mom?”
“Course not! And who’s been filling your head with all that nonsense?”
“It’s just something Jack told me.”
“I think you been eating too many sweets. I am putting that candy away, and tomorrow we can donate it to the Nursing Home.”
” Okay, Mom, but save a little of it for Bennie and me, please!”
“Get to sleep now and sweet dreams, dear girl.”
Rachel quickly fell into a deep sleep, but it was not sweet.
“So you don’t believe in spirits,” the old woman cackled. Rachel found herself in a cold, dark cave with the old witch who was binding her with a scratchy rope.
” Who are you and why are you doing this?” Rachel cried.
” None of your nevermind, drink this! ” hissed the hag. I am going to switch you with my little changling, and your mam with never know the difference.”
” She will too! ” sputtered Rachel as the bitter liquid was forced down her throat. ” My mom would know me from your rotten little changling any day!”
“Watch your lip, girlie, or you might just lose it!” screeched the witch.
A small twisted creature made its way across the cave toward them leaving a slimy trail in its wake. As it got closer, Rachel could hear a chittering sound coming from its beak.
“What’s that!” she screamed.
“That’s my little darlin’. She’s been waitin’ for me to bring her a little girl like you so she can cross back into the world,” the old witch replied in a gentle, lilting tone.
Rachel was becoming drowsy but fought to keep her eyes open. She knew if she gave in and fell asleep again the witch would do her worst.
Rachel woke with a start, bolting straight up in bed, and pinching her arms to make sure she was really herself.
“What the heck are you doin’, Rachie? ” Bennie asked from the doorway.
” Oh, I had a bad dream, that’s all, Bennie.”
“You’re as white as a sheet!” Jack said as he quickly crossed the room.
” I wish everybody would quit making a fuss!” Rachel fumed.
“Who’s everybody?” asked Bennie.
“Oh, none of your nevermind!” Rachel replied.
“Why you talkin’ so funny?”
” I ain’t talkin’ funny!” she said as a little chitter escaped her lips.
WEP October 2018 Challenge #WEPFF-Write…Edit…Publish October Challenge-Deja Vu or Voodoo hosted by Denise, Renee, Olga, and Nilanjana. Featured image of ‘spooky portrait’ via pxhere.com
Word count: Abt. 1002