Enchanting the Night
Every once in a while when the planets align and the moon shining above the earth is full, something very special happens on Halloween. That’s when magic happens and as soon as it gets dark on Halloween Eve, a spell is cast over the entire neighbourhood. No one knows for sure who cast the spell but we know that sometimes when all the conditions are right, the night becomes enchanted and unusual things start to happen.
All the good parents in our neighbourhood are very careful when allowing their children to go out trick or treating. They have rules and warn their children about the dangers of Halloween night. It seems that every year they hear news reports the day after Halloween about people who do bad things or put hazardous objects and substances into candy and treats they give out to our young Halloweeners. But, this year a special magic happened for a few hours after supper and it made things fun and very safe for the children but very bad for those who wanted to hurt or injure our little ones.
It happened as soon as the kids put on their costumes. Our ten year old little twins, Charlie and Maggie, noticed it right away. Maggie had a butterfly costume with sparkly wings and Charlie had a special squid costume with lots of tentacles. As soon as they put the costumes on, they transformed and actually became the characters the costumes represented. So it wasn’t Charlie and Maggie who went out trick or treating; it was Butterfly and Squid. But this was only the start of the enchantment that would happen tonight.
Butterfly and Squid had carefully decided which houses they would go to. They picked those houses on their street where their neighbours had gone to very special efforts to decorate for Halloween. There were many grownup people who like to relive the happy memories of Halloween fun and go to extraordinary efforts to make the night mysterious and amusing for the children. People had decorated their doors and front yards with colourful and sometime scary Halloween props. There were jack-o- lanterns, witches, ghosts, tombstones, and scarecrows. Some of the trees and bushes had orange pumpkin shaped lights and dangled Halloween ghost decorations hanging from the branches. Some houses even had Halloween music and scary sound effects like screams and witches cackling to make this festive night even scarier because Halloween is supposed to be all about hauntings and things that go bump in the night. Every house had something that was fun and this year all those props were magically enchanted by the spell.
Butterfly and Squid walked a short way down the sidewalk to the first house. It had a glowing jack-o-lantern by the door and the porch that glowed with orange lights. To Butterfly’s surprise, the Jack-o-lantern could talk.
“Happy Halloween Butterfly. Happy Halloween to you too Squid.” The jack-o-lantern winked and whispered to them in a crackling voice as his candle flickered inside him. “There’s another surprise for you when Mr. and Mrs. Holloway open the door for you,” he added with expectation in his crackle.
Together Butterfly and Squid knocked timidly on the door. Mr. and Mrs. Holloway opened the door almost immediately to greet their little friends. Getting into the spirit of the day, they were dressed in costume as well. Mrs. Holloway was dressed as Wonder Woman and Mr. Holloway was dressed as a cowboy. Mr. Holloway held a large deep bowl in his hands and offered it to Butterfly and Squid. Strangely the bowl was completely empty.
“Close your eyes and wish for your very favourite treat.” Mr. Holloway said whimsically with an encouraging wink. “Give it a try.”
Butterfly looked over at Squid puzzled at what she should do. But she did as she was told and closed her eyes and wished for her favourite Mars chocolate bar. It was amazing! When her hand came out of the empty bowl a large Mars bar was in her hand. Now it was Squid’s turn. He put his hand into the empty bowl and wished for a bag of ketchup chips. When his hand came out – there it was! A bag of his favourite flavour of potato chips was in his hand. Everyone laughed in delight at the magic that had just happened. But the fun wasn’t over yet. Just as they turned to leave for the next house, Harley, their poodle dog ran excitedly to the door.
“Those are my favourite treats too but I’m a dog and can’t have chocolate or chips,” he yipped while his four legs danced enthusiastically and his short tail wagged, his torso moving so quickly that his back end twitched with a little hop. “Have fun and be very careful of strangers,” Harley added with a short little bark following his sentence so they would know that he was still a dog. Wow! The dog could talk too!
The next house looked a bit scary because it had a witch, with a broom wearing a tall pointed black hat, standing in the front yard. Butterfly had seen these at the local Wal-Mart and knew that this witch might startle them with a loud and shrieking cackle. It was mechanical of course so Squid and Butterfly braced themselves for the fright as they started to walk up the walkway to the door.
“Hello Butterfly and Squid,” the witch said with a surprising soft and pretty voice. “If you can answer this riddle, I will fill your treat bags with all of the things that you enjoy the most,.” she added as her face and hair became soft and beautiful
“What’s the riddle?” Butterfly and Squid asked in unison although a bit worried that the witch who had become real might try to play a trick on them.
“Let me see if the two of you listen to what your parents tell you,” she asked gently her eyes looking directly at them to make sure she had Butterfly’s and Squid’s full attention.
“What are the three important things to remember when going out on Halloween night?” This time she gave out a loud and screeching witch like cackle in her witch voice. “You see,” she added in her pretty voice again, “most children forget their parent’s advice as soon as they leave their own house”.
Butterfly and Squid looked at each other trying to remember what their parents told them just before they headed out the door.
“I know,” Butterfly said. “Mom told us to be polite and always say thank you to the nice people who give us treats,”
Squid also remembered an important piece of advice. “They told us to be very careful of talking to strangers on the street because they might be bad people.”
But that was all they could remember. They were quite sure about the two things but couldn’t remember if their Mom and Dad had given them a third instruction.
“But there’s one more important thing that they told you,” the transformed witch tried to help them remember. “Think carefully.”
Butterfly and Squid were sad that they hadn’t listened more carefully to what their parents had told them. “But” Squid protested. “We’re just trying to have fun tonight because Halloween is a special celebration for kids.”
That must have been the right answer because as soon as Squid said the word “fun” the witch started to dance around the yard in delight. “That’s right,” she laughed in glee. “They told you to have fun. That’s what Halloween is all about.” She clapped her hands excitedly and then hopped on her broom and flew off into the dark sky leaving Butterfly and Squid alone on the walkway.
Butterfly and Squid looked at each other their eyes wide and their mouths open in amazement. Suddenly they noticed that their bags were heavy and full of treats. But they didn’t want to go home yet. They wanted to have more fun and decided to go to one more house at the very end of their street, further than their parents allowed them to go.
It wasn’t really that far they said to each other but as they walked the bushes and winds were whispering a warning. “That house isn’t safe. You shouldn’t go there,” the bushes rustled a whispery warning over and over again.
The house was decorated just like the other ones on the street. Butterfly and Squid were convinced that it would be OK. The other decorated houses were not only safe but magical and entertaining. The bushes must be wrong.
“We’ll just be very careful when we go and knock on that door,” Butterfly and Squid schemed as they continued to the last house.
Just as Butterfly and Squid arrived, the house changed and started to look dark and eerie. Suddenly, it was like they were looking at a black and white silhouette. Something was definitely not right about this place. If they were still Charlie and Maggie, they probably wouldn’t have noticed. But they were Butterfly and Squid and they were enchanted with the magic of the night. This made them keenly aware of the things that ordinarily ten year old children wouldn’t notice. They saw a tall, thin, evil looking man who was having several problems. His car wouldn’t start when he tried to drive out of the driveway. His dog was growling viciously at him and the lights in his house wouldn’t turn on. He was shouting bad words and looked very angry. There were no other children around probably because the house looked menacing and evil. No one dared to go there!
Just then a ghost from another friendly house started to fly around them. “That’s what happens when you try to break the “fun enchantment spell,” the flying ghost warned. “The spell just makes everything go wrong for a person who has bad intentions and all kinds of bad things will keep happening to them at least until the next Halloween or longer if bad people don’t change their evil plans and actions.” The ghost circled Butterfly and Squid protectively until they turned away from the bad house and started to walk home.
But the danger wasn’t over yet. The evil man who was now very angry because he couldn’t drive away in his car started to run to the end of his driveway to chase Butterfly and Squid.
“This is entirely your fault,” he shouted loudly, waving his arms violently.
Butterfly and Squid were terrified. They were truly in a dangerous situation now. They should have listened to their parents and the warnings the bushes gave them. This man was going to catch them and hurt them and they needed to get away from him quickly. But they were small and the man had long legs and could run very fast. What were they going to do?
Suddenly, Butterfly could feel her wings twitching and before she knew it she was lifting off the ground into the air able to fly high and away to safety. But, poor Squid! He didn’t have wings. He was still in very serious danger.
“Butterfly, help me!” Squid pleaded.
“Swim and swim fast,” Butterfly shouted.
But, there was no water for him to swim in. How could he swim without water?
Just then the same witch, who had asked them to answer the riddle, flew down out of the sky on her broom. She had returned to help Squid. She swept her broom past a nearby fire hydrant and it started to spew large torrents of water onto the street. It didn’t take long before the street turned into a flowing river. Squid leaped into the powerful flow of water just before the evil man could grab him. Another second and Squid would have been history. Squid was now in his natural element and swam very fast to safety. Butterfly could see Squid in the river that the witch had magically conjured and flew overhead as he swam. They both came back to the sidewalk when they were far enough away and were sure that they would be safe.
“I want to go home now,” they cried together.
This was more enchantment and adventure than Butterfly and Squid could handle. Their house was only a short distance away and holding hands they both quickly ran home to where their parents would protect them.
“Charlie you’re all wet and Maggie you have leaves and twigs in your wings. What on earth have the two of you been up to?” their Mom and Dad asked shaking their heads.
Both Butterfly and Squid started to talk very quickly and excitedly telling the story of all the strange and dangerous things that happened to them tonight. They talked so fast that their Mom and Dad couldn’t understand a word they said.
“Let’s get the two of you out of those costumes and get you ready for bed,” their mother smiled and she put her arms around them and gave them a gentle hug. Then she helped them pull their costumes off.
But, once the costumes were off the enchantment was over as well. Everything was real and back to normal. They were Charlie and Maggie again and safe at home with their loving family. It was late now and their Mom and Dad tucked them gently into their comfy beds, pulling the covers over their shoulders and kissing them on the cheek before they turned off the lights and left their room. The two of them were so very tired that they fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows.
In the morning when Charlie and Maggie were awake, they remembered that in their desperate attempt to get away from the evil man, that they had lost their treat bags. All of their very favourite treats that the witch had filled their bags with were gone. They got up feeling disappointed at the loss of their goodies. They went downstairs to the kitchen to get breakfast. They were hungry after the adventure of the previous night.
“Good morning sleepy heads,” their Mom greeted them with a smile. “I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast. Did you guys realize that you dropped your treat bags by the door outside?” she asked. “It’s full of all of your favourite treats. How very strange. You both got exactly the stuff that’s your favourite.”
Charlie and Maggie looked at the bags on the floor. How did the bags get home? Charlie knew that he wouldn’t have been able to swim with his bag and Maggie’s was much too heavy to fly with. There was only one explanation. The bags must have come home by magic as they raced away from danger last night.
It would be hard for two ten year old children to convince anyone that the Halloween they experienced last night was full of magic and enchantment. That really didn’t matter so much. However, what was important was that they had learned several important lessons. They learned to always pay attention to safety instructions from your parents. It was also important to listen to warnings from other sources, like the bushes last night. But most important of all, when all else fails, they learned to be as resourceful as you can on your own especially if you’re ever in a dangerous situation so you can run away to safety.
If you always listen to instructions, follow good advice, and do things safely you’ll always have fun. You won’t need magic or enchantment for that. However, both Charlie and Maggie will never forget, that every once in a while when the conditions are exactly right, that a Halloween Eve might become enchanted and strange and wonderful things would start to happen.