Halloween was my favorite holiday and I was anxious to put on my costume, red glittery shorts with a pointy tail attached to the backside, a matching red tube top, red knee high boots and of course, little devil horns. To my parents, the idea of spending $60 on a Halloween costume at the age of 21 was ridiculous, but then again, they didn’t know Halloween like I did. It’s an excuse to dress up and party, and any excuse to party is a good excuse.
But it wasn’t time to go to Rachel’s party just yet, and I’d promised Hailey I’d go to a fortune teller with her. I took one last look at my little devil costume, sighed and headed out.
The fortune teller Hailey had been dying to go to was in town for the weekend of Halloween only, along with a few pay-us-to-scary-you-shitless Haunted Houses.
“This is so awesome!” Hailey squealed as we stepped into a round room with a round table in the middle. The room was decorated with patches of fabric, most had shapes of stars, moons, and suns sewn onto black. A golden chandelier hanging just above the table lit the room gently, creating a spooky atmosphere.
I beamed with excitement, feeling the magic of Halloween wash over me. From the corner of my eye I could see that Hailey seemed to be sharing my excitement.
We stood in silence, taking in our surroundings for several minutes before a young woman entered the room.
Her long black hair fell wavy over her tan face and down to her exposed hips. She wore a two piece outfit, a deep purple version of what I imagined a genie would wear. Across her belly she wore green and red rhinestones.
“Can I help you?” she purred in an accent I didn’t recognize.
“I want my fortune read” Hailey whispered dramatically, grabbing my hand.
The woman looked from Hailey to me with a smirk.
“Sit down and we shall start. Do you have money for me?”
Hailey fumbled around in her purse for a few seconds, pulled out a handful of ones and handed them to the fortune teller.
She motioned to Hailey to sit down at the table, in front of the crystal ball that was position between them. When the fortune teller put her hands on the ball it filled with mist that swirled slowly.
As much as I loved Halloween and everything that came along with it I knew that fortune tellers were as much smoke and mirrors as the haunted houses they traveled with. I wasn’t fooled by her mist filled ball.
Hailey’s reading didn’t last long. Apparently her future was clear and bright, nothing to worry about. When Hailey stood up I caught sight of her face, she looked disappointed. I can’t believe she really believed this crap.
“You. What is your name?”
I had turned towards to the door when the fortune teller’s voice caught me off guard.
“Ruby” I stuttered.
“No thanks, I don’t have money to pay you” I said. She shook her head.
“I’m drawn to you. Consider it a buy one get one free offer” She used her foot the kick the chair back.
Hailey nodded in approval as I sat down across from the woman.
She eyed me one last time and put her hands on the crystal ball like she had before. It had cleared after Hailey’s reading but now it was filled with mist again. The fortune teller stared into the ball as if she were reading a book. Her eyes seemed to be trying to make sense of things she was pretending she was seeing.
“You do not believe” she said “That is fine”
How did she know what I’d been thinking? Oh, she was good. My face must have looked skeptical. That would be easy to pick up on.
“Your boyfriend, his name is Matt?” She asked, never taking her eyes off of the mist filled ball.
“No, I’m not seeing anyone”
“Ah, I see now” the fortune teller whispered “You have not met him yet. Soon. He is your soul mate, the one you are destined to be with; the universe is leading him to you”
She took her hands off of the ball and the mist cleared.
“That’s it?” I asked, glad I hadn’t had to pay for this crap.
“The finding of a soul mate is something many spend their entire lives searching for, yours is being brought too you. Most people would not respond to such a reading that way” She explained, leaning back and crossing her arms as if she was disappointed in me.
“I don’t believe in soul mates” I smiled politely “But thank you, I appreciate the, eh, free reading. Happy Halloween”
“That was incredible” Hailey shouted in disbelieve as we exited the little hut
“The things she knew!”
“Yeah, real incredible” I said, rolling my eyes. I didn’t consider con artists “incredible” but I knew Hailey ate that stuff up.
7pm took too long to arrive and when it did I practically ran to my room to get showered up and ready. In less than an hour Hailey and I were adding finishing touches to our costumes and checking out our reflections.
I let my blonde hair fall around my horns and to my shoulders in curls. Hailey’s dark red hair did the same around her halo. As far as we knew there would be no other devils or angels attending Rachel’s party and we were hoping to make a scene. With more excitement than I usually had for Christmas morning I took the porch steps two at a time to get to my car.
Walking into Rachel’s house was like walking into another world, a world where anything and everything existed. The peach colored walls of her parents beautifully decorated living room were no where to be seen. In their place was wall covering that transformed the very large room into a dungeon. Cobwebs dotted with plastic spiders covered the walls and tables. Most of the furniture had been removed, making the room look twice its actual size.
Candle lit pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns were placed on all the tables and surfaces that were covered with black, lacy fabric.
The only real light came from the hundreds of purple and orange twinkle lights that almost covered the ceiling.
Rachel’s party had already started; the room was filled with monsters, witches, vampires, and other creatures you only see on Halloween. Music that regularly played on the radio echoed around the room, seemingly out of place at a Halloween party.
“Hey! You guys look great” Rachel shouted over the babble of music and laughter. She wore a typical white nurse Halloween costume, white boots and had fake blood running down from her head to her chest and onto her costume.
“So do you” Hailey and I shouted together.
We followed Rachel into the crowd of partying ghouls to the punch table. Good friends and people we didn’t know greeted us and danced around us as we made our way.
Someone caught my eye as I reached the table, a zombie. His dark shaggy hair was covered with the same fake blood Rachel wore on her chest. He had false lacerations and holes glued to his skin and his black shirt and jeans were bloody and torn. He smiled back at me from across the crowd.
“Ruby, here” Rachel shoved a drink into my hand.
“Thanks” I said, turning to her then back to the crowd. In the second I’d turned around the opening had been closed by a werewolf and a witch and my view was gone.
The party seemed to fill up with more creatures and I was surprised to see that everyone had dressed up. Hailey and I had been sure at least one person would show up in a jeans and a shirt. They’d be the odd one out at this party.
Every year Rachel held a costume contests during the party. She excluded herself from it and walked around with a black box and orange paper for people to write their nomination on. Then, when she’d collected everyone’s votes, she called everyone’s attention to her, pulled the names and announced the two winners; a male and a female.
And every year I voted for Hailey and she voted for me. I’d gotten a lot of compliments on my costume but I doubted I would win. I was definitely not the most original at this party.
“Everyone Shut up” Rachel yelled from the head of her living room turned dungeon. Instantly, everyone hushed and the music was turned down. Hailey and I were at the front of the large crowd. Even knowing I had no chance at winning, I couldn’t help the little bubble of hope that floated up inside me.
Rachel shoved her hand into the tiny opening, pulled out two crushed piece of paper and unraveled the first one. I could hear the buzz of anticipation from the awaiting masses.
“Melissa Rogers” Rachel shouted and the crowd cheered. I’d known Melissa since middle school, but we’d never been close. She wore what would have been a beautiful wedding gown. It was covered in fake blood and torn all over. The entire left lacy sleeve had been ripped off. Her dark hair was in an intricate up do with leaves and twigs here and there and her make up was smeared and bloodied.
Melissa stepped up to Rachel and was given a tiny tombstone with RIP Best Costume 2009 carved into it. Melissa grinned at her trophy.
“Andy Good” Rachel shouted again and the crowd let out another cheer as Andy, the werewolf, stepped up to Rachel and Melissa. Before I had a chance to examine his costume I saw him again.
He was standing a few feet to my right and into the crowd. His eyes met mine again as soon as I noticed him.
“Who is he?” I asked Hailey without taking my eyes off of him.
“No idea, never seen him before. Must be one of Rachel’s friends” Hailey shouted over the music that had been turned back up.
His grin set something off inside me and I couldn’t help but beam back at him through all the boisterous partiers. I watched eagerly as he started to make his way through the crowd towards me and as he was caught in a wave of masked dancers. Before I could make my way towards where he’d been someone grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the dance floor.
“What?” I shouted, yanking my arm back from Hailey’s grip.
“You weren’t listening to me. It’s getting too crowded over there” She said, scooping spiked punch into our cups “Plus those guys over there keep smiling at us”
The guys she was talking about walked up to us as if on cue, which could be the case considering Hailey was always trying to set us up with random guys.
“Hey ladies” smiled the blonde Knight. His costume was very detailed, down to the fake chain male and the sword hanging at his side. He spoke directly to Hailey while his friend kept his eyes on me.
“You both look amazing” said the Knights friend, a dark haired police officer. If I’d met him on the streets I would have assumed he were an actual officer. I mean, if his badge didn’t say “Department Of Love”.
“Hey yourselves” Hailey flirted back.
“Thanks guys” I smiled politely, not really interested. I was searching the room for him, the zombie, and was having no luck. There must have been 60 people at the party and somewhere in the crowd he was hidden. My eyes probed every little opening and every turned back, coming up empty.
Feeling silly for preoccupying myself with someone I didn’t know I tried to seem interested in what the Officer and the Knight had to say.
Hailey was so absorbed in their Halloween costume history lesson that she didn’t notice me excuse myself and head into the overcrowded dance floor. Creatures all around me were dancing, taking photos and making new friends. I wasn’t particularly paying attention to who or what was around me when I noticed him again, always a few feet out of reach and definitely out of hearing distance. I knew I could walk right up to him and strike up a conversation, finally, but I was lost for words. What would I say to someone I’d been randomly catching a glimpse of all night? “Hey, I’ve been watching you” I felt like a stalker.
Before I could decided whether or not to walk up to him he looked in my direction, laughing at a joke I hadn’t heard. But his laughter stopped when he saw me and I smiled in response. He had a great smile and amazing teeth. As if off in my own little world I drown out the music and shouting of my surroundings and took a step forward.
“Ruby, get in this photo!” an excited high pitched voice burst my quiet bubble and all the sounds of the party rushed back to me at once.
My friends arms flung around me as I was pulled this way and that. I caught another glimpse of him as he smiled, nodded and turned back to his friends. While I smiled for photos and showed off my costume I decided it just wasn’t meant to be. Not in a destiny kind of way, just that it wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t going to speak to him, there were too many people standing in the way.
And what did it matter? I didn’t even know the guy. It wasn’t going to be the end of the world if we didn’t speak. There are plenty of other cute boys to talk to at the party. But even thinking that I knew I wouldn’t mind giving it one last try if the opportunity presented itself. Until then, I’d have a good time on my favorite holiday.
The Halloween theme song mixed in with a techno beat filled the party as I danced with Hailey and Melissa, who I’d been catching up with for the past hour. It seemed like everyone had left the side lines of the party and joined in the dancing for this epically Halloween appropriate song.
Despite the minimal fabric of my costume the body heat was overwhelming and I needed some fresh air. I danced another few beats and pointed towards the patio doors, letting my friends know I’d be back in a minute.
I pushed and shoved my way through the tight crowd of monsters and ghouls and finally burst through to the sidelines, almost running into the closed door.
Outside on Rachel’s small fenced in patio the temperature was perfect. To anyone who hadn’t been crammed between about 60 other people it probably would have felt cold but to me it was heavenly. Even when my exposed skin was covered in goose bumps I still felt relieve. I leaned up against the side of the house and drew a deep breath, enjoying the way the cool air filled my lungs and closed my eyes.
“Great party, but way too hot in there” a voice said, followed by the sound of the door closing.
“Yeah, definitely” I replied, not bothering to open my eyes.
The voice didn’t speak again for a minute or two and I assumed they were doing the same, taking in the fresh air.
“Are you sure you’re not cold? I have a jacket inside” the unfamiliar voice finally spoke again.
“No thanks” I said, and then I opened my eyes “I’m fine”
It was him, the zombie. His grin widened when my eyes opened. I closed my gapping mouth and smiled, feeling my cheeks get warm.
“Hi” I whispered, still blushing and feeling like an idiot. Hi? Who just says hi?
“Hey” he smirked.
I composed myself and tried to act cool. It’d probably be polite to introduce myself.
“I’m Ruby” I said with a confident smile.
“I’m Matt; it’s nice to finally meet you”