Clean but messy. Disordered. Not a speck of dust on anything. Every nook grime free. Every countertop, floor surface, and item for sale sparkling clean. But no system of placement. Pumpkins in bags with potatoes. Canned goods on shelves with toys. Wood and sprigs of lavender piled together—little ghosts hung out nearby, watching. Notes of spice, dry leaves, cinnamon, and fresh baked goods mingle in the cool air. They ride drafts of heat radiating from the stove at the shop’s rear.
She read about asking for treats in a book and asked her parents if she could try it. “I’ll be good. I’ll stay in town.” They said of course she would and be home before dark. No more playing with gremlins and ghosts, they were a bad influence. She didn’t know what an influence was, but agreed to return before sundown.
The shop was the first place she went. She said the words, but the shop owner grumbled. She tried again, “Trick or treat.” He mumbled in reply. She asked for pen and paper, then drew a piece of candy. She pointed to it. He pushed a wrapped treat across the counter, but when she went to grab it he pointed to the total on the cash register. She shook her head and pointed to the picture again, tried the words. Why wasn’t it working? The ghosts near her feet giggled.
“You know ‘trick or treat’? You tell him.” She said, and they laughed some more, then whispered among themselves in that funny—almost musical way—they talked to each other. “Well?” she asked. They nodded and floated up through the counter and whispered to the shop owner.
“Uh? Hmm. Uhmm. Uh-uh…Uh?” he looked from the ghosts to the girl. “Hum-mm-mph.” He poked the candy with his finger, moved it back and forth, pulled it towards himself. The girl’s eyes followed the treat the whole time. “Hmm. Mmph-hmph-hmph.” He nodded, the ghosts whispering to him. Floating around his head, taking turns talking. Then they floated back down to where they’d been. “Hm-hm, grmm-mm-hmph.” He lifted the candy, leaned across the counter, opened his hand, and offered the treat to the girl.
She grabbed it, beamed, and ran to the door. She would have gone all the way home to show her parents, but one of the little ghosts whooshed in front of her, whispered to her, and she froze. “Oh, right,” she turned back. “Thank you, mister!” she called. Then said to the ghost, “Thanks for the reminder.” She tried to pat its head, but it’s hard to pat a ghost. She giggled and dashed home.