The past has passed, that is true. They say to move on, get over it, put it behind you, and a seemingly never-ending list of fancy little quotes that feel like the perfect thing to say until it’s you, until you’ve lived in hell. I used to have a “Live Laugh Love” wallhanging behind the couch in the living room. That, too, is in the past. I’m no longer that woman. She died. I ripped that stupid little sign off the wall one night, took it into the back yard, and burned it in the fire ring with the rest of the memories that haunted me from my former life. That was almost everything.
I got counseling. I changed. I turned my life around. They think I’m okay, that it was just some hard times for me for a while. That usually happens with divorce. The pain is immeasurable when your best friend marries your ex-husband. The girls used to call her Aunt Becky. They call her Mommy now. I know they do, but they try not to call her that in front of me. They don’t want to hurt my feelings. We are way beyond that at this point.
Tom and Becky swear they weren’t having an affair before Tom left. I said I believed them, but I lied. It no longer matters.
They’re bringing the girls over this evening for a Halloween party. It’s like we are one big, happy family. I should’ve moved to Hollywood after high school and been an actress. I know I’m the world’s best. Or they’re blind. Maybe both.
The dry leaves blow around my ankles in the crisp breeze and rattle against each other like old bones. Blaze, my black cat, chases the leaves. When the girls were here last weekend, we put up some of the Halloween decorations. Today is my day off from work, so I’m putting on the finishing touches, adding some new lights, turning on the fog machine and haunting music. Too bad there isn’t a contest for best-decorated home because this place is looking like it came straight from a movie set! Just as well, I am actress of the year, remember?
Walking back into the house, I pause at the mirror in the foyer. Whoa! I sure am looking my role! I am certainly glad I splurged on this premium witch costume. I have not left out a single detail. Blaze meows his approval.
All extravagance aside, the stars of the show—the poison apples—gleam on the kitchen counter. They were much easier than I thought! A simple concoction of sugar, water, corn syrup, and purple food coloring, sticks for handles from the tree out back where I picked the apples, and magic, of course. We can’t forget the magic. I’ve put all my power into the darkest-colored apple. I had never used black magic until today, but I want my girls to be home. Without Becky, Tom will come back to me. I can live without Tom, but I need my children. I can’t wait to see Becky go up in flames like the rest of the horrible memories did. Here the apples sparkle under the glow of black lights. Perfection. Deadly perfection.
Gravel crunches in the driveway, signaling the arrival of Tom, Becky, and the girls.
The motion-detected mummy laughs as the twins run up the steps. I can hear them giggling and their excited chattering about all the decorations.
“Mommy! I love the new lights!” Tessa squeals as she runs through the house looking at everything.
“Mommy! Mommy! The mummy scared me! Did you bake cookies?” Lola asks. “I can smell them.”
They are dressed like the twins from “The Shining.” How appropriate.
“Heeere’s Mommy!” I yell and wrap them in my arms, hugging them hard, sniffing their strawberry-scented hair. How I miss them when they’re with Tom and Becky. It’s nearly unbearable.
“Of course I baked cookies. Oatmeal and chocolate, your favorite,” I say, winking. “I have a batch cooling on the table. I’ll be right back.”
I walk into the dining room to get the cookies as Tom and Becky make their way through the living room. I hear Tessa squeal when she sees the apples.
“OH, MOMMA! These apples are beautiful!”
“WOW!” gasps Lola.
“Beware! Those apples are poison!” I cackle from the dining room.
“Oh! Tessie, taste this!” I can hear Lola say.
Right on cue Becky spots the apples, “You’ve certainly outdone yourself this time, Val, these apples are to die for.”
I can hear Tom agreeing.
Well, only the best for you, Beck,” I sneer and roll my eyes as I pick up the cauldron full of oatmeal and chocolate cookies.
The twins’ laughter abruptly turns to screams, and I immediately know they haven’t waited for cookies.
“NO!!” I scream, running back to the kitchen as fast as I can. “NO! The apples! They’re poison! They’re poison apples!”
As I burst into the kitchen, the beautiful apple falls from Tessa’s hand and bounces off the black and white kitchen tiles in slow motion. Everything seems to be in slow motion. The purple around both girls’ mouths begins to turn red before starting to smoke.
Becky grabs the water pitcher and the girls lap at it like screaming dogs.
There is no use. I have cast an extremely strong spell, an irreversible spell. I meant to rid Becky from our lives for good.
The girls burst fully into flames, fall to the floor, and turn into a small pile of ashes. I fall on my knees screaming, begging, pleading, but to no avail. I had unknowingly sealed my daughters’ fate on All Hallows’ Eve.
I reach out and grab the fallen apple, biting heavily into it and swallowing without even chewing.
So mote it be.
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
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