Its gray paint is flaking off from wooden walls.
Brown dead weeds crawl over cracked concrete.
Twisted vines flow out of terracotta pots.
I've always been fascinated by the house. Such a classic, spooky haunted house. I have a vague memory of trick or treating there when I was little. I'm sure it was the highlight of the night.
I walked past the house on the way school on Halloween morning admiring it's creepiness as I often do. But as it turned out, Halloween was a special day for that house. In its window sat a vase full of dead flowers, and peeking out between them, two skulls with huge black petals sprouting from their heads. Next to the eerie arrangement, a carved pumpkin glared out the window with triangular eyes. And I couldn't have been happier. I stood there looking at the Halloweeny window display for a few minutes, transfixed, then went on my way, the house and the pumpkin and the skulls still flashing through my head.
After school, I wrote a small note and popped it in the house's letterbox on the way home. A note of appreciation. I never believed that anyone else in New Zealand cared about Halloween, and it warmed my spooky heart to see that another fellow kiwi had made an effort for the darkest celebration of the year.
On the morning of November 1st, I was on my usual route, very much looking forward to seeing that house and window. I was relieved and excited to see that the decorations were still up. The mailbox was full, and I could see that my weird little note was still sitting in there. They mustn't have collected the mail.
November 2nd, the owner must have read the note, for the mail had been taken in, the decorations were still up, and a new jack o' lantern had appeared on their front porch. It can't have been a coincidence. Halloween had come and gone. There was no second Jack o' Lantern there on November 1st. It wasn't put there for the trick or treaters on that last October night.
It was put there for me.
They had read the note, and being the cool halloweenies that they are, carved one last pumpkin and put it out on the porch. Pretty damn awesome.
The skully flower arrangement and two pumpkins remained there for a few days after Halloween, and when at last they vanished, I stood in front their crumbling picket fence, trying to peer in their window. Through the holes in the torn, stained curtains, I could just make out what must be the living room. And there, on the mantlepiece, a small plastic pumpkin grinned its kitchsy orange grin at me, and I couldn't help but do the same.