The Last Warm Night

We walk up through the neighborhood houses on the last warm October night. The breeze tugs at the fallen leaves lying in the gutters, and they skitter along behind us. They sound like the pitter-patter of a thousand invisible feet stalking us from the shadows.

I swing my boyfriend’s hand back and forth.

We peer from rectangle to rectangle of golden window in each house. They are warm snapshots of cozy rooms– an afghan dangles from a wing back chair, books nestle on a dark wooden bookcase, a TV flickers blue and bright.

But out here, where we wander, the street lights etch the jagged shadows of tree limbs on the road before us, and the yards we pass hide lumpy, dark, and curious things. A few houses sport witches flying or ghosts hovering from porch posts and lamp poles. As we pass, they jitter and laugh. “Hello, my pretty! Ha! Ha! Ha!” a crone’s wavering cackle.

“Rah!” goes an eight foot tall skeleton from his place guarding the entrance to a black, yawning porch. A wavy orange light ripples across him as if he’s stomping up from the depths of hell.

My boyfriend squeezes my hand. “You don’t want to waste it,” he says.

“What’s that?”

“The last warm night of the year.”

The sickle moon winks at us as it sifts through gray-cotton clouds.

© 2021 Katie Baker

One need not be a chamber to be haunted. One need not be a house. The brain has corridors surpassing material space.

Emily Dickinson

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