They come forward, silence echoing the flare of torches lit one by one. Chill air cloaked in darkness stirs a taste for the burn of whiskey that would end the night. Children cling to their mothers’ skirts, fearful yet excited by what is to come. Sinuously wending along the stony path, drawn toward the jagged thread of Sun as it slips molten scarlet behind the black horizon.
Arlenn dropped the bundle of sheaves next to the stacks lining the barn wall, grinning at the dust raised by his defiant thump. Twas childish, he knew, but he felt joyful, scratchin the itch to protest his Da’s orders. Tweren’t fair’s all, that aft the bonfire, all t’e folk wert gone to pub for All Hallow’s E’en. Twasn’t right he should miss it to mind a sick cow. Well, Daisy’d like as drop er calf ‘afore then, an e’d like as to go on t’ th’end of it.
Sid read the words again. Dammit, it’s still not right! ‘Why can’t I write the words I hear in my head? The problem is, I have no idea what a Gaelic accent sounds like and what’s coming out is a mash-up of Irish and Scots’. Few readers would know the difference, Sid knew, but she wanted to maintain the integrity of the dialect all through the story. ‘Face it, kiddo, you just don’t have a flair for dialogue – not like Roy or Jan, or Vicky and David’.
She could see it so vividly in her mind’s eye… Rich earthiness of night, dancing flames and smoke from the bonfire, pungent aroma of hay bales silent sentinels dotting the fields. The fear. The excitement. Townsfolk with history deep in the marrow of their bones, stirring their blood, honouring their ancestors. Hundreds of years spent appeasing the spirits and praying for protection.
Sid contemplated, clicked the keys, read, scowled, sighed. She set aside her laptop and sat gazing into the dim glow of her fireplace, soothed by the muted crumbling of embers. Slowly her eyelids lowered, fluttered, closed. Head snuggled into the crevice of her wing chair. Bugsy curled up in her lap, purring contentedly. Mmmm…
Knock! Knock, kn, knock!
Sid jerked awake, Bugsy’s claws dug into her thigh, and they both jumped up. Good heavens, she thought, glancing up at the mantel clock. Nine o’clock, the chime tuned out the thumping of her heart. Perhaps I dreamed it, Sid thought, as she headed to the kitchen to fix a cup of tea.
Knock! Knock, kn, knock, knock! Knock!
It was the door! Sid hurried to answer it, peering through the small window, seeing nothing. What on earth…?
Knock, knock, kn –
Sid pulled open the door in utter exasperation – and screamed.
The miniature, rubber-faced Barack Obama thrust a bag at her and said, “Trick or Treat”.
Image: Creative Commons:Pixabay399990