The Town, and Festival, of Samhain
Written by AbiK
This work was last updated November 7, 2019
“Next year,” I had said to Dustin, “I want to leave this town.”
I had been surprised at how fast he had agreed.
Now, a year after the Samhain festival had taken place, we were ready to leave. We planned to leave during this year's festival, when everyone in the town of Samhain would be busy celebrating the end of the harvest. We would be able to slip away under the cover of darkness, and no one would notice until we were long gone.
It was rumored that there would be a full moon on the night of Samhain, and it was clear that everyone had the same thoughts running through their minds. No one talked about it though, and no one dared to say that they would spend Samhain inside.
So the townsfolk worried, the festival approached, and me and Dustin got ready to leave.
The night of Samhain, I was in the kitchen gathering the ingredients for the cookies that me and Dustin were going to make. My parents were just about to leave to pick up my grandmother.
"Tell Dustin we're sorry we couldn't stay to see him - have fun!" My mother yelled out as they left. I felt the smallest twinge of regret as the door closed, knowing that that was the last time I would ever talk to them. The silence that followed the door closing was even worse, as it seemed like every occupant who made the house its busy and bustling self were dead and gone.
We can pretend that everyone is dead, I thought to myself. That will make it easier to leave.
I must have gotten used to the silence, as I jumped when the door opened. I turned, mouth opening, but nothing came out as I watched Dustin walk into the kitchen.
He was so tall that he scraped the top of his head on the door frame, and he rubbed at it, his hair just long enough to be pulled into a ponytail. It wasn’t until he looked at me that I realized he had said hello, and I had been too busy focusing on his face.
“Sorry, I have a lot on my mind,” I said.
He nodded. “Are you sure that you still want to do this?” he asked.
“No,” I said sarcastically, “I would rather throw away a years worth of planning so that I can go to work tomorrow morning.”
Dustin laughed, but his eyes never left my face. “Seriously Natalie,” he said quietly, “We don’t have to go through with this if you’re having second thoughts.”
“We do have to go through with this,” I retorted, “because I refuse to stay in this town another second.” I looked up at him and smirked. “Are you sure it’s not you who’s getting cold feet? You could have left months ago without me.”
Dustin grabbed one of the rolling pins off of the counter. “Maybe, but I would never. The only way I’m leaving is if you’re coming with me,” he said as he turned the cylinder around.
“Then what if I said that I did want to stay, after a year of planning? Would you throw everything we’ve done away to stay here forever?”
“Yes,” he replied instantly, not taking his eyes away from the pin in his hand. “I could stay anywhere if I was staying there with you.
“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say to that, so I looked down at the counter, my face burning. “Well, good, cause - cause there’s no one else I’d want to run away with,” I stammered out. I turned away to the oven quickly after I had spoken, and when I turned back around, Dustin’s cheeks looked flushed.
We made the cookies in mostly silence, and when they were finished, we loaded up Dustin’s car and left.
The town was quiet, with the rumored full moon shining brightly in the sky. If people had decided to stay home, they were doing so with the lights off, and we saw no sign of anyone as we drove through the town, and turned the opposite direction of the festival grounds.
The radio in Dustin’s car acted as background noise as we sat in silence. Dustin’s eyes were focused on the dirt road in front of us, bordered by forest on either side.. He drove with one hand, the other down on the console between us. I put my hand on top of his, and smiled when he intertwined our fingers.
We drove for well over an hour, and I was almost asleep. Then a deer jumped in front of the car as we went around a curve.
I heard Dustin swear, and the only coherent thought I had was to hold on as the car spun in a circle. We came to a stop facing the direction we had come from, and the deer lying in the middle of the road. Without thinking, I unbuckled my seat belt and opened my door.
“Natalie!” Dustin’s voice barely registered as I got out of the car and walked towards the deer. I glanced at the car; the front bumper was dented, and one of the headlights was smashed in. I turned towards the deer, which looked as though it was sleeping in the middle of the road, shards of glass around its back hooves.
I took another step towards it, and shrieked when something grabbed my arm and spun me around.
“Jesus, Natalie!” Dustin said, holding my arm. “You haven’t said anything, and you’re just gonna walk towards the deer?”
“I wanted to check if it was dead!” Dustin’s face went white as I spoke, looking at something over my shoulder. I turned around, to see a wolf standing between me and the deer. It was almost as tall as me, with shaggy grey fur and piercing yellow eyes. I glanced up at the full moon in the sky, and when I looked back at the wolf, his lips were pulled back from his teeth in a snarl.
Dustin tried to grab my arm again, but I pushed him away as I stepped back.
“We were just passing through,” I said quickly. My voice was high-pitched, almost a shrill. Dustin’s hand rested lightly on the back of my arm. “We stopped because we hit the deer.”
“Natalie, what are you-”
“You can have it,” I continued, not letting Dustin speak. “The deer, I mean.” My hand waved erratically, motioning behind the wolf. It turned its head to look at the deer. Dustin’s hand on my arm tightened, as if to pull me back again, and the wolf’s head spun back to us.
I didn’t look away from those yellow eyes.
“Please, take it,” I said, shaking with every word. I could hear my heartbeat pounding against my skull. “It’s all yours. Happy Samhain.”
It’s head tilted to the side. It glanced back at the deer, then back at us, motioning towards the car. It was almost as if it said, get going then, and me and Dustin wasted no time. As Dustin turned the car around, all I could do was watch the wolf turn towards the carcass.
We drove in complete silence, both shaken up.
"Do you think that that was a…" Dustin ventured after a while.
"I don't even want to think about what that was," I replied. I knew that we were both thinking the same thing, however.
"It was different this time," he ventured again. "Do you think it'll be a good different?"
I didn't respond.
After a few more minutes, the road took another turn, and suddenly we were in a bright field. Dustin slammed on the brakes, and we both lurched forward, just missing a group of people.
“What the hell?” he muttered as we both looked around at the Samhain festival. The town had arrived in full force, with children running around the decorated field in a festive mass, and adults gathered around different goodie stands.
“We left the town,” was all I could whisper as I opened the door and stepped out of the car. Instantly I was swarmed by people. I fought my way through the crowd, ignoring their questions, until I got to the side of the car. I opened the back door, and pulled out the cookies. I turned around, and came face to face with my grandmother.
She was a short woman, but in that moment she towered over me. “Natalie, darling,” she said with a smile, “are these the cookies that your mother was mentioning?”
I smiled. “Yes, Nana. I made them before coming here.”
A few hours later, in the middle of the Samhain festival, I saw Dustin. He was leaning against a drinks table, staring out at the crowd.
I walked over and poured myself a drink. Without looking at him, I swirled it around and took a sip.
“Next year,” I said quietly. “I want to leave this town.”
I was surprised at how fast he agreed.