Jessie shivered in the dark, huddled by the tombstone. He knew he shouldn’t be out here, a ten year old alone in the graveyard on Halloween night, but he had to be.
When he was six, he remembered Billy Hamstead from school telling him that Halloween night was the one night of the year that the dead could reach out to the living and that the living could actually see the dead. At the time he’d found the notion frightening, and in fact his mother had told him Billy had only been trying to scare him, but now…
Now that Jessie’s mother had been taken away from him in that car crash, the idea that he might be able to see her tonight was comforting. And so he’d come here, waiting.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been waiting, but it felt like hours. He didn’t have a watch so it was impossible to know for sure. If she didn’t appear to him by midnight, he supposed he would miss his chance. At least until next October 31st.
Just when Jessie was beginning to despair and was considering giving up on this fools’ errand, he saw her. She approached in a white dress, her face pale and blank, a scar from the wreck puckering her forehead and curving a jagged line around her right eye. Jessie stood and held out his arms to her, exclaiming, “Mama, I’ve missed you so.”
She did not acknowledge him, merely knelt down in front of the tombstone and laid the bundle of flowers she carried in her arms at its base. A single tear made a track like a slug trail down her left cheek. She reached out, brushing the tombstone with her fingertips, tracing the letters of Jessie’s name.
“Mama, I’m right here.” Jessie reached out to her, but his arms passed through her and she seemed not to feel a thing. “Mama, can’t you hear me? Can’t you see me?”
Her tears starting to flow more copiously, his mother stood and stumbled away from the grave. Jessie called after her, but she did not stop, she did not look back.
Billy Hamstead had lied. On Halloween the dead could reach out to the living, but the living still could not see them.