October soared homeward in the middle of the night, landing in her yard somewhere before daybreak. By dawn the spreading oaks in the cemetery had taken on a crimson tinge and the air had become so clear and chill that to drink of it was to know an immediate intoxication.
She would have known it was October even with her eyes closed. Would have felt it in her blood, would have remembered the way it slipped like a cool satin cloak around her shoulders.
And so, she kissed her true love right away, because there is nothing so magical as love, and as always in October, she was insanely, delightfully in love again.
After that, she danced to the soundtrack of Practical Magic with her black kitty, folded every single summer dress she owned into the closet, and put a purple witch hat on the scarecrow.
She burned leaves just to watch the smoke swirl in curlicues against a sky as shiny and hard as blue ceramic, and she sent good prayers skyward with each plume.
The Halloween box had spent eleven months in the basement but there wasn’t a speck of dust on it. In fact, when she pulled it from beneath the stairs, she noticed the way it glittered like moon light beneath her fingers, and when she removed the lid, a chorus of little voices sang forth:
Ooooh, there’s my favorite ghost, Mommy!
Halloween’s coming, skeletons will be after you!
I want to take the bloody knife to school tomorrow!
For a moment, she hesitated with her fingers still clutching the lid; she could feel the passage of time as ominous and cold as November thunderheads, rolling and tumbling and never-ever looking back, and she knew another year had passed. But October isn’t about regrets, and when the thunder passes . . . well, the fat, white moon owns the sky; she dug into the box with both hands.
She unearthed cackling jack-o-lanterns, hanging skeletons, swooping bats on invisible wires, and by evening some of the little voices from the box had dropped by in their adult form, only to become children again. (Hershey bars and candy corn are the best cure for dull adulthood, but if you persist in being a grown-up, you should sip a little apple wine to relieve that headache.)
The sun lay down earlier than it had all year, in a nest of golden feathers, and the big dipper poured star dust over the yard. By midnight, she had really and truly let summer go.