Just a quick story for this year's Halloween.
Chapter Description: Elizabeth listens to her aunt's story one cold night in November.
It was a cold November night. My younger siblings were all hudled by the fire with my aunt, who was visiting. She was telling one of her "stories" again. I was in school those days and didn’t have time to liisten to my aunt’s stories anymore, but this story was a Halloween story, which topic, even to this day, catches my eye.
We had just eaten our dinner. My dad was absent for the meal again, which didn’t surprise me. He worked part-time and we collected whatever support we could from foodstamps and other government handouts.I didn’’t much mind that because I knew that some things just weren’t meant to be, but the reason for my utter distaste with my old man were the bruises my mother did her best to hide. I knew things were rough, hell, we’d planned on me working part-time next year to help make ends meet, but him taking his frustration out on mother like that left me frustrated to no end. I digress... this recollection pertains to my aunt’s story, not my fatther’s abuse.
After dinner my aunt gathered my siblings by the fireplace to tell them a story. Seeing as I had homework and tests to study for, I was about to excuse myself, but when I heard she was going to tell us a Halloween story, she had my full attention. Aunt Claire’s Halloween stories weren’t always scary, but regardless of whether or not they frightened me, they still captivated my imagination, which helped me escape the stress and pressure I felt on a day-to-day basis.
Aunt Claire was rocking a baby whom I didn’t recognize. I guess I wasn’t too surprised at the time. Since we needed money, it wasn’t uncommon for one of us to take on a babysitting job. In the end, my curiosity got the best of me and I just had to ask.
"So... who are you babysitting tonight, Aunt Claire?"
My aunt offered a weak smile, which I could see through even at that age. She was in her late twenties, but she already looked to be in her thirties. She worked very hard and was still single, even though good looks hadn’t yet left her side. She had long, flowing, blonde hair, a very slim figure, with all the feminine curves that I envied at that age. I felt sorry for her. I knew that at her age, I’d definitely rather spend time scoping out guys than hanging out with a relative’s kids. Despite her circumstances she seemed as though nothing could bring her down, which is why her response caught me off guard. "Well, Elizabeth, this boy’s origins are quite the tale." I rolled my eyes. I thought she knew better than to treat me like some dumb kid, but I guessed that sometimes even the nicest of people give in to sarcasm.
I laughed it off, "Well, my homework’s not going to do itself..."
My aunt gave an understanding nod as I turned to leave. That was when, seemingly out of the blue, my younger brother, Zach, piped up, "What is his story?"
I was already in front of my room, which I shared with my little sister, but I could still hear my aunt’s voice, loud and clear. "Well, this child’s story dates way back to ancient times, when tthe land was ruled by lords and kings," I was drawn in by her rennaisannce-era refference. Her tales of that period always had me on edge, "but in particular his story started one Halloween..."
Just like that I was completely possessed by whatever story she was going to tell them. Even a short Halloween story involving a knight confronting a witch was bound to be very good. I quietly returned to the fire with the rest of my siblings. Aunt Claire simply acknowledged my returned with a quick nod, rocking the sleeping baby as she did so.
"King Jared had everything he could ever want..." my aunt began. I was a little taken aback by how she used my father’s name for the evil king, but I was otherwise entertained by the story of how the evil king had married a fairy princess and was mistreating her, so the fairies sent their own champion to save the princess from the evil king. The story ended with the king begging for the fairies to spare his life, so the fairies, mercifully, gave the evil king another chance at life. They turned him into a little baby and another one of the fairy princesses decided to raise him as her own. This was a new story, but she told it very well and she had me on the edge of my seat for the whole story.
"Well, it’s time for bed," said Aunt Claire, at the conclusion of her story.
"He weally ewil ting?" my five year old brother, Benny asked, as he pointed to the child in my aunt’s lap.
My aunt laughed, "Oh, no... this is your cousin, Jerry. Does he look like an evil king to you?" Benny shook his head in response, "Well, you kids have school in the morning, and I have to put little Jerry to bed, so off with you now." my aunt teased.
I ushered my siblings into the bathroom to get them started on brushing their teeth. Once they were in bed I decided to chat with my aunt a little before I turned in.
"That was a really good story tonight, Aunt Claire," I complimented.
"Glad you liked it," she replied with an appreciative smile.
I probably should have just gone to bed, but I just had to ask, "Jerry isn’t really my cousin, is he? I never noticed you get pregnant..." The fact that my aunt was single meant that if she was his mother, she had been "sleeping around", which I knew my mother found distasteful.
"Jerry is absolutely your cousin," my aunt reassured me, then, sensing my uneasiness at her response added, "and no, I haven’t been seeing anyone."
I felt relieef that my aunt hadn’t been fooling around, but that was when my stomach dropped. I realized that I hadn’t seen my father since Halloween, which was a few days ago. I also realized that the evil king in the story was referring to my abusive father, and the fairies were supposed to be my mother’s family. Finally I realized that it couldn’t be a coincidence that my aunt’s son’s name was Jerry.
As my aunt stood in front of the door with Jerry, she turned and made eye contact with me. "Happy Halloween!" she said cheerfully as she left through the front door. I haven’t seen my father since that Halloween.