When Cyn Redman moved to Peace as a pre-teen she was sure that she would never fit in. Small town life was just not for her. Enjoy this short story based in the world of The Peace Novella Series. For more of Cyn’s ‘grownup’ life, click on the image below.
Cyn’s First Halloween
“Mom, why would you agree to do this,” Cyn whined. Her first Halloween in Peace, and it was going to be lame.
Bev Redman smiled as she slid Cyn’s breakfast across the worn melamine table. Cyn stabbed murderously at the congealing eggs on her plate. “So much for trying to fit in!” There was just no way to explain, she thought, how uncool it was for your mom to show up at school to read fairy tales and legends. She wasn’t a baby anymore. This was an eighth-grade English class, they didn’t need a Halloween Story.
“The school librarian asked me to do it, Cyn.” Bev said, her warm brown eyes smiling over the edge of her coffee cup. “It’s the first time they’ve approached a parent to do the Halloween story, I have to do it.”
A few arguments and a short drive later, Bev dropped her sulking daughter at Peace Middle school and went to check on the renovations for her new clinic on Main street. Bev smiled as she taped large cut-out pumpkins and tombstones to the windows of her storefront, refusing to allow Cyn’s thirteen-year-old sophistication spoil what had always been her favourite holiday.
Redman Holistic Counselling would open before Thanksgiving. It was a dream come true, Bev thought. She had come a long way from her days as the local party gal. It had taken years but now she was back, Dr. Beverly Redman, stronger than she ever had been and with a mission to help the people of Peace move past the town’s chequered past.
Bev walked into the classroom at exactly 1:30, and grinned as Cyn rolled her eyes hard enough for it to count as exercise. Talking quietly to the teacher and settling herself in the beanbag chair in front of the squirming group of bored looking pre-teens, Bev watched as her daughter slowly wormed her way towards the back of the group desperately trying to avoid her mother’s attention.
“Good afternoon.” Bev’s quiet contralto held the attention of the class better than any amount of volume would. “Mrs. Jepsen invited me here to read my favourite scary story. So, listen now, and I will tell you the story of the Tell-tale Heart.
With a wave of her hand the lights in the small classroom dimmed until the room seemed to be enveloped in a twilight murk. Bev let the silence build for a few seconds broken only by the quiet sibilant hiss of the overhead air vents. Then, from the depths of the beanbag chair, she spoke.
“TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
The silence grew deeper as the words of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic story of guilt and obsession drifted through the room. Eyes that had been flitting from the carpet to the window found themselves drawn into the story that Bev was weaving. Her low calm voice lulling them into a false security only to rise sharply as the madness in the story became more and more evident.
With the villain brought to justice and the story ended Bev allowed the silence to build for a few minutes before gesturing for the lights. Standing up from the beanbag chair and collecting her purse she smiled as the teacher checked the clock on the wall and addressed the class.
“Say thank you to Ms. Redman for sharing her favourite story,” Mrs. Jepsen said, “and then, after you’ve copied tomorrow’s English assignment from the blackboard, you are dismissed.”
A few mumbled thank-you’s followed her as Bev. walked down the brightly lit school hallway and out the door. The cool October sun was shining on the golden leaves of the aspens in the schoolyard. Crossing to perch on the hood of her old Prius she tilted her head back turning her nut-brown face to the afternoon sun. The piercing sound of the school bell interrupted her tanning and warned of an incoming rampage. Children from knee-high to Jr. High charged out of the door, some in small groups of one’s and two’s, some in the kind of herds she remembered from her childhood. Bev kept her eyes out for the solitaries, the lonely ones were worth watching, she reminded herself, they were the ones who were easy targets for the kind of bullying and abuse she had endured as a teen. Cyn was usually one of the solitaries. Ever since they had come to Peace she had worried about her daughter’s withdrawn attitude and lack of friends.
A particularly rambunctious group of children barreled out of the exit and headed toward her car. In the middle of the noise and hustle was Cyn, talking a mile a minute to a bouncy, pigtailed girl about the jellybean dance in the gym the following night and trick-or-treating on the weekend.
“Hey, Mrs. Redman” a sandy-haired boy with shock blue eyes smiled up at her. “Wicked story!”
“Yah!” Cindi Mason said, pigtails swinging wildly as she bopped around, “Your mom is so cool, Cyn!”
Bev slipped into the Prius and waited for Cyn to say her goodbyes and buckle in. Shifting the old car into gear she headed towards home. Her eyes flickered from the rear-view mirror to the smiling face beside her. Her first Halloween back in Peace was so totally not going to be lame.