This poem came out of the October 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by lilfluff. It belongs to the Monster House series, coming between "Eviction, Noticed" and "Home Shriek Home." You can read the other poems in this series on the Serial Poetry page of my website.
I'd never been much for Halloween;
my parents made me stop dressing up
after I turned twelve.
Life seemed too busy to waste time
on paper skeletons and plastic pumpkins
and way too much of a sugar binge.
This year's eviction still stung;
I wanted nothing more than
to curl up on a rented couch
and ignore the whole holiday season.
But the little old lady ghost
who still stuck by me
was in no mood to take
"I don't feel like celebrating"
for an answer.
I flicked the porch light off
for the fourth time,
but it turned back on
before I even returned to the couch.
"Fine then," I grumbled.
"You deal with the little pests."
Eager feet trampled over the porch boards,
coming and going. I watched
through the window as excited children
poured out of cars and ran up steps
and scrambled back into cars.
Finally I stepped outside to watch.
The little old lady ghost smiled
and beckoned more children onto the porch,
waving them toward a bowl of candy
that I'd been saving for a rainy day.
She entertained them with dancing balls of light
and, once, conjured ectoplasm
for the horrified amusement of little boys.
"This is one awesome setup,"
remarked a teenager dressed as a pirate.
"Where did you hide the projector?"
"What projector?" I said absently.
The small children crowding around the pirate
looked at us, their little mouths falling open.
"Eeeee!" they shrieked. "A real ghost!"
They all ran screaming into the night,
taking their pirate with them.
The last piece of candy glinted forlornly
in the bottom of the bowl, its silver foil
reflecting the porch light. I popped it into my mouth
so that I wouldn't have to keep looking at it.
The little old lady ghost
gazed after the trick-or-treaters
and then silently turned off the porch light.
Watching as she let her manifestation fade,
I felt like a complete heel.
"Hey," I said softly,
"next year we'll plan ahead.
Maybe I can borrow a projector or something."
She smiled at me,
and it seemed to linger long after she faded,
like a Cheshire cat
and just like that,
the holiday felt a little less empty to me.