Ghouls, Spiders, and a Severed Foot

If there’s one thing my neighbourhood does ‘right’, it’s Hallowe’en. Summer parties, easter egg hunts, Christmas caroling, they do it all – but Hallowe’en is the big one. This is the neighbourhood where 130+ kids come trick or treating before 7:30 (my first year here I ran out of treats by then). Where people not only dress up their kids, but themselves and their houses and their cars. Even their motorbikes. Corpses crawl out of gardens, hang from eves, eyes peer out of upstairs windows.  We had an eight-foot tarantula prowling the streets (I’m guessing at the height). Some people own their own fog machines, others rent them … a year in advance. Sadly, the family that used to project old, silent, scary movies on a giant screen hanging from their house has moved on. The streets get packed, clusters form around corners where residents set off fireworks, and there’s an air of a festival.


Maite and Phil next door got in on the action this year – Maite swore they would after experiencing last year. Our block is a little ‘off’ of the main action, but if more people did what they did this year, things would change. Their veranda became a spider’s nest, complete with webbing, giant spider hanging down, wee ones scrambling up banisters and railings.


This year marked a big change in Cameron. Now, granted, he’s not feeling great and is likely a little more apt to be spooked. Last year he didn’t bat an eyelash at the ghouls, corpses, disturbed gravesites, and monsters. The word ‘why’ wasn’t yet firmly established in his vocabulary perhaps. It was all about the festivities, about shaking his little monkey tail in the streets, and the discovery of candy … at people’s houses! And they give it to you!


This year?


Mommy? Why is that foot not attached to its person? Uh … where do I begin with that one. Well you see, kiddo, there’ve been seven feet washed up on shore here in BC and so it’s kind of funny in a macabre sort of way. Perhaps not. Well, it’s not attached because something gnawed it off, from the looks of things. Also not the best explanation. Because it’s sort of scary to look at, isn’t it? That’s part of Hallowe’en my love, getting a little bit scared but knowing it’s not real. That foot isn’t real, see? Yeah, it’s a real shoe, but the foot isn’t. Here, touch. See? Plastic. Not skin.


Maybe a little more disturbing, given that he’s just three and a half:


Mommy, are those people bones? They’re supposed to be people bones? But mommy, if they’re people bones, why isn’t there blood? Shouldn’t there be lots of blood?


Cameron stopped and inspected each and every decorated house, wanting to know why, why, why. He stood by the disembodied talking head on a platter for a good long time, listening and watching, while other kids scampered past en route to filling their bags with more candy. Plastic spiders got poked. Bags got peered into. He stood on the trap door with arms reaching out from underneath it, and appeared to contemplate the situation. Then he wanted to open the door.


Some of it seemed to be curiosity, wanting to see behind the mask of the evening, to assure himself that it wasn’t real. Or maybe just to figure out how things worked. But some parts disturbed him. That foot, the scattered bones, the mist from the fog machines, all set him a little off, which meant that after a bit he became fearful. Thankfully this wasn’t until after we’d encountered the giant spider. Adults in costume can be distressing to him I’ve noticed, but with some encouragement by the spider herself, Cameron was persuaded to run between her legs and ‘escape’ with giggles. But before long, a teary uncertain Cameron was begging to go home. He’d even lost interest in the fireworks, and claimed they were too loud.


Don’t misunderstand – it was still a fantastic, special evening. My little knight in shining armour did boogie around on the streets a bit, and positively glowed when people commented on his sword and shield. He went up to each house on his own, and would occasionally come to grab me by the hand and excitedly show me the decorations. He was again amazed at the idea of people giving out candy from their homes, and continually commented about how much he had gathered.


He’s sound asleep, despite fireworks still occasionally crackling in the sky, and screamers zipping around on the street. For the most part things are quiet again, though. Here’s hoping he doesn’t process the things he saw with the help of nightmares tonight. And tomorrow it’ll be November, and things will be back to un-haunted normal again for another year.


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