She lit an old candle in the carved turnip, and placed it by the cracked window, causing shadows to dance across the log walls. She squinted through the glass. A cold wind was pushing dying red leaves across the stone path. It was getting late!

She’d heard whispers of a mandatory town meeting. Dressing in layers, she hoped to ward off the cold, and the gazes of her unfriendly neighbors. She knew what they would be discussing tonight…

(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)


I have no clocks. The songs of the night are my timekeepers. The barking of the neighborhood dogs told the butcher had closed his shop. The scent of the butcher walking home always sends the dogs into a barking frenzy. An orchestra of barking, neighbors yelling and cats yowling blended harmoniously. For me, this was harmonious chaos. I smiled as I pulled on my old boots, dreading the thought of tonight’s meeting.

All of us, the butcher, the baker, their wives and their lovers huddled in one room, hating the men who summoned us together. I, like them, strolled the stone pathway walking as if we didn’t see each other. I gaze at the houses with their pretty displays with a tug of envy in my heart. Picturesque windows and porches were adorned with the colors of fall. Jack-o-lanterns smiling, sneering and crying, created in
all shape and sizes, were all on display. I glanced back at my turnip standing so proudly gazing through my broken pane. When I smiled at him, he smiled back.

The howling wind blew through the layers of my clothes, sending a chill beneath my coat straight through my tired bones. I stoop to gather blood red leaves, slipping a few into my pocket. Think I’ll brew myself some tea tonight.

Once a season, I take this walk to the town hall. Once a season, the discussion was always the same…rules to survive the night. The young and the old were all there. My long coat skirted the floor, making a scraping sound as I shuffled down the aisle alone. I looked at their faces. Some showed fear, others disdain. Then there were those who openly yawned. None of us wanted to be here but here we were.

Old Jason spoke first. His rules were simple…doors locked and candles lit. He then turned to me, the real reason why we gathered here.

“Edna,” he said with a false tone of sincerity. “We can’t let you keep carrying on with your yearly mischief.”

“Awww…leave her alone, it’s only one night a year. Let the old lady have some fun,” shouted the short butcher.

I smiled back at him. He always had a twinkle in his eye for the ladies, no matter how old.

“Fun!” yelled Jason. “She nearly scared my wife to death last year.”

I chuckled, thinking no one could scare that pinched face woman.

“No! Edna, you got to stop throwing rocks into folks’ houses. Last year, she set afire the widow’s lawn gnome. Then the year before that, she ran down the street screaming in her night clothes, waving a broom and scaring all the little children.” His voice turned sweet. “Edna, can’t you just play nice?”

I stood up, beaming the sweetest smile I could conjure. I ripped opened the three coats I was wearing to flash the entire congregation of First Street Baptist. As they screamed and swooned I ran for the door, cackling and screaming.