This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person or place is unintentional.
The summer had drawn to a close, much like the remnants of my previous life. I had spent the hot, humid days packing up my house in Georgia and moving across the country. It wasn’t quite like “Go west, young man”, more like “Go anywhere but here, young woman”, and so I’d gone north, to start again.
I was starting this leg of my journey alone. I’d lost my husband, Bryan, in the early spring from COVID-19 and it has taken me this long to manage all that I had to deal with – the estate, the funeral, selling the house and buying a new one. Somewhere else. Somewhere without Bryan. Somewhere without memories.
I was an only child, and I lost my parents six years ago. Bryan and I had never been blessed with children, so after he passed away, I realized that I was truly alone, for the first time in my life.
The days were getting shorter now and the leaves on the maple tree in in the front yard of my new house were turning a vibrant shade of orange. I’d missed that, living in Georgia – the changing of the seasons; the changing of life. Of losing one thing but gaining something new. Even the sunsets were becoming more vibrant, a rich mosaic to accompany the dying sun, followed by hauntingly blue hues of the rising moon. A flock of geese in V formation flew overhead, heading south, honking out their farewell message.
Life was changing, there was no doubt about that. From Georgia to Boston, the scenery was as different as day and night. Fall was a season of preparation – since the beginning of time, the turning of leaves has signified the start of winter preparations. My ancestors gathered supplies to get them through the long, cold winters in northern Quebec, chopping wood for wood stoves, making quilts, salting meat, and preparing jars of preserves to sustain them. They even saved pig fat for oil lamps and candles to light the way on those dark cold nights.
I have been gathering and preparing as well. I have gathered all of my strength and seldom allow myself to wallow in self-pity. I’d left behind a career in corporate finance and taken a chance on opening a small gift shop. I know it’s going to take some time to feel at home in my new community, but I have an idea that might help me get to know the people in my neighbourhood.
With Hallowe’en approaching, I’ve overheard people talking about how nervous they are about letting their children go out trick or treating, so I decided to open my shop as a drop off location for treats. I’ll use my own gift bags and create little grab bags for different ages of children, and then instead of having to go door to door on October 31st, parents can bring their children by the shop to collect a gift bag full of treats from all their neighbours. That would also let parents go out with their children instead of having to stay home and shell out.
I’ll need a costume of course, something memorable. I just remembered I had a serving wench costume that I haven’t worn in years. I’ll wear it this year while I’m serving treats to children and spiked hot chocolate to parents. That will be memorable, right?
Bryan and I had loved Hallowe’en, and we’d always made our front yard look like a cemetery. We used to go to parties dressed like famous (or infamous) couples – Sony and Cher one year, Bonnie and Clyde the next. Continuing the tradition this year will be a great way to remember my time with him, bittersweet though the memories will be.
Time to get busy – there are flyers to make and then drop off at the houses in my community so people will know what I’m planning. This will be a great way to meet my neighbours!
I can hardly wait to get started!