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These Halls

nFKjLkO “Aw mom! Do we really have to go to bed?” the small innocent voice of my daughter whined. Even at 5 years of age she loved to stay up late.

“Can you tell us just one more ghost story? Halloween is tomorrow!” older brother, age 10 chimed in. 

“Haven’t you two heard enough scary stories tonight?” I said in a playful, yet somewhat serious tone. “I don’t want you to have nightmares tonight.”

“But mom, we love your stories.” youngin’ from the middle, age 8 spoke up. “Your stories are the best stories in the whole entire world!” 

All three chimed in and said,”Pleeeeaaasssseeee???” Goodness gracious… it was hard for me to say no. I love my children to death, and I would do anything for them.

“Okay, how about I make a deal with you guys. Since tomorrow is Halloween, after you are done with trick or treating and carving pumpkins, how about we have a special scary story night?”

The eldest tilted his head and asked,”Special scary story night?” 

“Yes! I have one whopper of a story to share, and the best part is, it’s a TRUE story!”

All jaws dropped, followed with Ooos and Ahhs. “Really mom?? A TRUE story??” my littlest one asked.

“YUP! That’s right. It’s my scariest story yet. We can make popcorn, bake pumpkin seeds, eat trick or treat candy, and get set up in the living room! And… we can stay up as late.”

“Later than 8?” Middle child asked.

“Yes, later than 8 and later than 9.” As soon as I said that, they all started to giggle and jump up and down on the bed in me and my husband’s room. It looks like the staying up late part did the trick. I rarely ever let my kids stay up, nor do I let them sleep in unless if it’s on the weekends; even then its no later than 9 am.

“Ok, ok, alright guys. But, here’s the catch. If you go to bed asap, then we will make this a priority! Do we have a deal?” I stuck my hand out in a handshake gesture.

They hesitated at first, but then all three of them grabbed my hand at once and shook it as hard as their little arms could. “Deal!” 

“Group hug!!” All of us squished together in one big group hug. Dad comes waltzing in and taps the open bedroom door lightly. “Hey Daddy! Wanna join the group hug?” 

“Hey why not! Grrrrraaawwwrrrrrggggg!!” We plopped onto the bed and joined in on the hug. We were a very tight knit family, and my husband, John was a wonderful husband and an even better Dad. “Alright guys, you heard Mom, time for bed.”

“Okkkaaayyyy.” They all chimed in once again and ran back to their colorfully lit rooms. “Good night Mom! Good night Dad!” and just like that, lights were out, and they were out. 

“Ahh so I take it you could hear my latest proposition I made to them.” John crawled towards me, sat right next to me, kissed me, and put his arm around me. 

“Indeed I did.” I kissed his cheek as we cuddled with one another. “You weren’t going to tell the kids about THAT story, were you?” John’s serious tone concerned me just a bit.

“Yes, I was. I think it’s time that they knew.” I looked up at John, giving him an assuring look. I felt a knot developing in the pit of my stomach. 

“I’m not sure if it’s the best idea, but if it feels right to you honey, then go ahead and tell them.” John kissed me on the forehead. “How deep into detail are you going to go?”

“Not too much detail. Just the ‘juicy’ stuff I suppose. Like for example, how I got some of the scars on my face and hands.” I smiled. John laughed at this response. “I promise that it won’t go any farther than that.”

“Okay honey. I just want to make sure that you’re comfortable with this.” 

“I am! What could possibly go wrong by telling the kids a good ghost story from the past?” As soon as I said that, the knot in my stomach continued to grow tighter. I felt a sense of regret and terror trickling up my spine. They need to know the truth eventually. I can save the more gruesome details for another time… yes, perhaps when they are older… tomorrow is going to be interesting.

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