Sunday, October 18, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales ~ Dinner Anyone??

You are invited to read:

Dinner Anyone??

Looking back on that day, the storm, the darkness, the coldness of the summer wind, I should have known that something was wrong. I should have been more aware.

A late summer storm had relieved me of electricity and without a television and the Red Sox to keep me occupied, I found myself napping in the darkness of my living room. I was in the middle of a very strange dream involving a child’s grave and some shoes that didn’t fit when I was awakened by a soft tap upon my front door. The storm had washed out a good portion of the driveway that led to my house so it was quite a surprise when I discovered an elderly woman standing upon my front porch.

“Good evening Mr. Kelley” the ancient voice cracked.

I stared at the strange figure before me. She was tiny, barely five foot tall with short stubby arms and legs which seemed to protrude from an oversized torso. The skin on her face was smooth but it was her eyes that gave away her age. Ancient, blue eyes the color of frozen ice, sunken deep into her skull, stared out at me over smooth, pale cheeks. A tight, silver bun sat on the top of her head and not one single hair appeared out of place although a cool, stiff breeze was still blowing. Her matter of dress was stranger yet, a floor length dress with a high ruffled collar, which given the summer heat, seemed quite unbearable. I had seen similar clothing in the yellowed photographs of my great-grandmother as readied for church garbed in her Sunday best. The woman’s dress appeared ironed and stiff as one would expect but it was covered with a coating of dust which I also found quite odd.

I could not say anything for a moment, taken aback as I was by her unexpected appearance and I had no idea how the woman knew my name as I had just recently taken residence in the house. After a fashion, I was able to speak.

“Can I help you?”

“As a matter of fact, I believe you can Mr. Kelley. I prepared an elaborate dinner before the storm arrived as I was expecting some friends but now it appears that with the main road closed, my company will not be able to make it. Would you care to join myself and two of my neighbors for dinner? I live just past the bend in the road, you know the place, don’t you? And you will join us?”

I nodded amicably. I was embarrassed that I did not know her name and ashamed to admit I did not know the whereabouts of her house but I felt I could find it without much trouble. Besides, all I had in my refrigerator was a now, luke warm beer, and some congealed leftover pasta that would not be fit to eat without the assistance of a microwave.

“When you see my mailbox, take the little path towards the house, it is quicker than the road. I will expect you within the half hour. Do hurry Mr. Kelley. Waste not, want not.”

And then, she was gone, disappeared actually. I thought it was a trick of the shadows that now covered my front entrance and driveway combined with the fact that I had been awakened so abruptly so I shook off the feelings of apprehension, closed the door and went up the stairs to my bedroom and bath. 

I splashed my face with cold water and tried to wrap my head around what had transpired. I found the entire event bizarre but still found myself desiring to go. I quickly changed my clothes into something better suited for dinner with an obviously proper lady and hurried out into the darkening evening. For some reason, I thought it best not to be late for this dinner.

I had just reached the end of my driveway and stepped onto the pavement of the road when a white bolt of lightning struck the large oak tree outside of my house sending it crashing into the living room where I had been sleeping just a short time before. I stood in shock as a watched the scene play out before me and I must have been a sight in my jeans and suit jacket standing in the road as my house crumbled before me. Needless to say, I forgot about my dinner plans.

It was some days later after the emergency vehicles and the insurance claim adjuster had come and gone; that I remembered the elderly woman and felt I should find her and explain my absence. In the coolness of the early evening, I headed down my driveway once more and walked the short distance to the bend in the road that the woman spoke of.

I found the mailbox right away, a rusted clump of metal with the letters, “Clar_  S_lliv_n” still attached. I took the path she suggested but instead of arriving at a house, I found myself at the entrance of a small cemetery. It consisted of only three headstones and I shivered as I approached them. The largest of the three stood in the middle. As I looked at the stone, I felt the hair stand up on my arms and the graze of cold fingers upon the back of my neck.
Clara Louise Sullivan
Beloved Teacher and Friend
1830 – 1925
“Waste Not, Want Not”

The evening shadows were hanging from the stones and I felt it best not to linger any longer in this makeshift graveyard when my wits were clearly not about me. I turned to go and leave the unholy place but paused when I noticed some scratchings which looked like letters in the soil.

The ground in front of Clara’s stone was void of grass and the dirt was soft and newly turned which I found quite peculiar since the cemetery seemed otherwise to be quite unkempt. I knelt down and strained my eyes to better see what was there but upon reading the message, I became terrified and fell backwards into the damp grass.  

In the soft, dark dirt in front of the gravestone, written by what I, in my fear, supposed to be a finger, were the words,

“You are welcome Mr. Kelley.”

I have not been back for dinner.

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