When I think holiday, I think lavish island resort, being waited on while sun tanning around a ginormous pool, in a cool bikini and large sunglasses, eyeing off all the hot, buff guys.
My mother? She decides to go all country on us, the smell of real air [was there any other type?], of wholesome home-grown foods [I felt like puking] and away from the hustle and bustle of city life [Boooring!].
Worse still, the old, decrepit house we rent, looks like a reject from a Wes Craven movie, still outfitted with its thick, fake cobwebs and a corny skeleton greeting us with a lick-cleaned bony wave. Serious overkill!
Of course, I complain. As a sixteen year old, it is my civic duty. “Are you for real?” I say to Mum.
Mum laughs. “The agent says this house is very popular during Halloween. And it’ll be fun for you kids.”
Enter rest of family. My two younger brothers, Liam and Noah. Liam heads towards a rickety-looking mantelpiece. On it lays a line of skulls. I close my eyes. The word ‘lame’ haunts my head.
Liam goes to touch one, his eyes wide, his smile seriously disturbing. “This is soooo cool,” he says.
I bury my exasperated head into my hand; pray that someone, anyone will rescue me from this nightmare.
“We can put them in the window,” Liam says. “Light them with candles, freak everyone out.” He selects a skull and chucks it towards Noah. Noah fails to catch it. The skull lands on the wooden floor with a dull click-clack, and doesn’t break. I left thinking, you have to love plastic.
Noah clings onto Mum’s jeans. “Do we have to?” he bleats. No surprises there. You can literally puff air on Noah’s cheek and he would scream for ages. Hope puberty corrects him. What was Mum thinking bringing him to a place like this?
Liam kneels before him. “This will be so much fun, little brother.”
Noah nestles deeper into my mother’s clothing. I cringe. Another reason for me to wish Noah and I had different fathers.
But sadly not.
Our father is somewhere. Occasionally we know where, most often not. This is a ‘not’ time.
“It’s only for a few days,” Mum says.
“Five and half to be exact,” I say with a well-perfected eye roll.
Mum laughs some more. “Georgina,” she sings. I hate the name and begin furiously texting my friends. ‘Need immediate extraction,’ I say. Empathies, sympathies roll in like someone who had just died.
I leave, trudging up the only stairs in the place. If I am to survive this nightmare, then I need to pick the best bedroom.
The second floor holds many doors. I shrug, pick the first one, and enter. It is abnormally cold and I look for the air-conditioning. No sign of one; the room utterly barren of furnishings, of life. The door slams shut behind me and I jump.
And close to my ear, someone whispers:
“Welcome to Halloween.”
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