Bob had loved Halloween ever since he was a kid. He loved visiting all the houses decorated with inflatable ghosts and toy spiders. He loved seeing the friendly jack-o-lanterns at the foot of every door. He loved roaming the streets with all the other costumed kids. And of course, he loved the free candy. On Halloween, his neighbourhood always came to life with a unique magic.
Every year, Bob dressed up as a “ghost” by draping himself in a white tablecloth. He had been planning to do the same this year. He admitted that it was a lazy costume, but hey – it was effective. There was just one tiny problem.
Bob was dead.
He’d been dead, in fact, since an unfortunate “incident” that had occurred a few weeks ago. Something involving an alleyway and a cute puppy and a grand piano and – well, he preferred not to think about it too much. But Bob was anything but a quitter. He wouldn’t let anything get in the way of his Halloween fun, especially something as trivial as being dead. Besides, since he already was a ghost, he didn’t even need a costume this year!
So, as soon as dusk fell on October 31st, Bob excitedly stepped outside his house, looking forward to a fun night. A group of three schoolchildren were sitting in his lawn. Their heads were huddled close together, their faces wearing the grim expressions of military commanders in a war room.
“I say we should split up,” one of them, a kid dressed as a cardboard box, said. “That way, we can cover more ground and get more kinds of candy.”
“But how will we split the candy at the end of the night?” another asked. He had a wizard’s hat, but was otherwise dressed in ordinary clothes.
“You’re just going to take all the good stuff again, like you did last year!” accused the third child, who was wearing a unicorn onesie.
“No, I won’t!” the kid in the cardboard box said. “I promise to be fair this time!”
“That’s what you said last time,” the unicorn kid said, “and the time before that!”
“Yeah but this time, I promise for real!” the kid in the cardboard box insisted.
“But promises are already supposed to be real!”
“You should all just go together,” Bob supplied helpfully.
The three kids’ heads snapped up abruptly.
They stared at him.
Bob smiled and gave a little wave.
The kid in the cardboard box fainted and fell over.
“What?” Bob frowned. “I was just trying to be helpful.”
“Y-y-y-y-ou’re a… g-g-g-g-g-g….” the wizard kid stuttered, trembling.
“Oh, yeah!” Bob said. “I’m a ghost! And I don’t even need a costume for it! Isn’t that amazing?”
The wizard kid and unicorn kid shared a look. They heaved the cardboard box kid to her feet, and the three of them bolted down the street.
Bob sighed, staring at their backs as they retreated into the distance. Had he done something wrong? Kids these days were funny creatures, that was for sure. Maybe he would have a better reception at his first house.
He turned and walked up the driveway to his neighbour’s house. She was an elderly woman who gave out full-size Twix bars every year – in other words, she was perfect. Surely, she would give him a warmer welcome than those kids had!
He rung the doorbell.
The door swung open to reveal the elderly woman standing hunched in her doorway, squinting at him and holding a box of Twix bars in her hand.
“Hello, neighbour!” he exclaimed, holding out his candy bag. “Trick or treat!”
The elderly woman, still squinting at him, slowly reached a gnarled hand inside the box and drew out a Twix bar.
She dropped it into his candy bag.
It fell through.
The elderly woman’s eyes widened.
Bob grinned sheepishly at her.
She slammed the door in his face.
“Hey, what’d you have to do that for?” came an angry voice from behind him. Bob whirled around to face the group of trick-or-treaters waiting their turn behind him.
“You didn’t have to scare her with the special effects on your costume!” one of the kids said. “Now she isn’t gonna give us her Twix bars!”
“Yeah! Lame adults think their costumes are so cool, but they just ruin Halloween!” another voice shouted. “Go away!”
An angry chorus of agreement arose from the other kids. “Go away! Go away!”
Bob sighed. Being dead sucked.
“Alright,” he muttered. Head lowered, he made his way down the porch as the kids glared daggers at him.
If this was what it was going to be like all night, Bob decided, he might as well head home. Why did he need to get candy anyway? It wasn’t as if he could eat it…
He had thought that Halloween would be more fun as a ghost, as it was a day for all things spooky and supernatural. But Halloween was only for pretend ghosts, it seemed.
Clearly, Bob had to rethink how he wanted to approach the neighbourhood, now that he was dead. There were things he could do as a ghost now, after all, that he couldn’t do while alive. Like fly, and through walls, and pull pranks on those mean kids…
Maybe it was time for him to come up with some new Halloween traditions. Bob smiled to himself as plans for the following year began taking shape in his head.