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A Halloween to Be Forgotten by Elena Garbugli
Translation by Crystal Bianchi
Serena was preparing to go out, she had to accompany her sister while she went “trick or treating” with her friends. She didn’t want to, not because she didn’t want to be with her sister, or because she had something to do, but simply because she didn’t like Halloween night at all. She was frightened of it. Every thirty-first of October, she hoped the day would end soon and she moped around all day long, locked in her room. She preferred to stay at home and give chocolates and sweets to the children who rang the doorbell rather than going out among the people who cackled while wearing costumes. There wasn’t a real reason for why she didn’t love this holiday, it simply gives her the shivers. Everyone always made fun of her, they said that it was a childish fear, but what could she do?
That year it was up to her to accompany her sister. Her parents had gone out along with her brother, who used to take on the responsibility knowing her hatred for this holiday, and so there wasn’t any alternative. She also tried to convince her sister not to go. She had promised her endless sweets, toys and gifts of all kinds, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
Sara loved Halloween, she would go out at any price to show off her beautiful witch costume. In fact she looked really nice in her costume, and how could she say “No” to that adorable, supplicating gaze? Therefore, Serena took courage and she dressed up to go out. She wouldn’t have worn any costume, that’s all we needed! It was hard enough just to peek out the door. It was 8 o’clock pm when they went out and Serena held Sara’s hand tightly, looking around as if something terrible were going to happen at any moment.
“Hey, don’t squeeze me so tight! “ said Sara, trying to wriggle from the grip of her sister.
“Sorry…”, rumbled Serena, slackening off.
“Don’t tell me you are scared!” Sara complained, “What a wimp! Who are afraid of meeting? You should know that monsters don’t exist for real! Being told something like that by her ten-year-old baby sister made her feel a bit foolish. In fact, if her sister wasn’t frightened in any way, why should she be? It was just a matter of a children’s festival. She looked at her while she was running towards her friends. She was carefree and happy. There was nothing to be afraid of. She heaved a sigh and she caught up with her to start the tour of the houses. Going from house to house, Serena seemed to be relaxed. She was surrounded by children, for many of whom she had babysat, so she felt at ease. On the contrary, she was having fun: it was nice to see them laugh, joke and give out the sweets. It was 9.30 pm when they arrived at the last house. The tour was finished, and it was time to go back home, so Sara would be in bed at ten. Everything had gone off smoothly. Maybe she was wrong to be so frightened of that holiday. They were right to make fun of her, and from that moment she would laugh at it. After taking all the children home, she was alone with her sister, who had offered her many sweets from her bag full of goodies, and she was telling her sister she was disappointed she hadn’t even had the chance to play a trick. She was very happy that Serena had accompanied her. They had almost reached their walkway when Sara exclaimed: “Look!”
Serena turned to the direction indicated by her sister, but she didn’t see anything and she couldn’t say it in time because her sister was already running toward that direction.
“Sara! Where are you going? Come back here! Serena screamed while she was chasing her sister. Sara was running fast and Serena was afraid of losing touch with her. What was she thinking? She had never behaved like that, and had always been a good child, the typical girl who never ran off and always obeyed. While Sara was running, Serena realized that the road was deserted. What had happened to the other people? Until recently there were many people all around. They had arrived at the outskirts of the neighborhood, and Sara had turned left too. She couldn’t see her, the grass in the field was so tall that she couldn’t even see the peaky hat that Sara was wearing. She thought she had seen something move in front of her, and without thinking twice, she went into the field. She ran fast and was calling her sister. She was terrorized, what would happen if she lost her? The moon shone in the sky, by that time it was night and Serena could hardly breathe. She didn’t even know how long she had been running. She couldn’t take it anymore so she stopped to catch her breath. Looking up to the sky, she realized she had stopped in a clearing where the grass seemed to have been cut recently; in front of her, there was a windmill. She didn’t know that there was a windmill out there, she had never heard of it. While she was observing it, she noticed that a little witch was slipping into the small opening which was left open by the windmill’s heavy wooden door. It was Sara. Serena rushed into the windmill looking for her sister.The door opened with loud creaking and, once she was inside, Serena was wrapped in darkness. It took some time before her eyes got used to the darkness. When she began to see again, she noticed that the room was empty ; it looked like an old , abandoned barn, and the dim light of the moon filtered through a small window in the wall opposite the door. It seemed that nobody was inside, and there weren’t other doors except the main door. Then, where was her sister? She panicked, and she felt paralyzed, frozen and petrified. Then, she saw a tiny door at the other end of the room; Sara must be in there. Serena approached the door and opened it. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed by a strong, foul smell, so she had to cover her nose and her mouth. She found herself before a winding staircase; the walls were made of bricks covered with moss. There were burning torches and the trembling flames created weird plays of light reflected on the steps. It was cold, and Serena had to keep her shoulders close together while she was going downstairs. Who knows where they led to. She thought she had heard some whispers more than once, she turned quickly because she was sure of being chased. The more she descended, the colder it was, and the more she went down she, the more she felt discouraged and anguished. Where was Sara? What happened to her? While she was walking, she whispered her name. At the end of the staircase, she found herself in a big hall, which seemed to be the exact copy of the windmill’s hall, but it was not as dark as the room upstairs; on the contrary, it was lit up by torches hung on the walls and many candles spread on the floor. On the walls there were weird symbols written with red paint. Was it paint? Wasn’t it? Now, Serena was really upset, she almost passed out, but couldn’t. She had to find Sara. In front of Serena, at the opposite side of the room, there was a door. She had to go through it to get her sister home, no matter what. She sighed, trying to take courage. As she was making for the door, she heard a scream. Sara! Serena leapt toward the door, she opened it wide and…
…the alarm clock rang. Serena had never been so happy to wake up. The only problem was that the calendar marked the thirty-first of October, and at that early hour of the day she was angry because the day had begun with the wrong foot and it would have been so long. How she detested Halloween! That night, would she have taken her sister around the neighborhood to “trick or treat”?