“It’s cold in here. You should light a fire.” Sara shivered, hoping for a cuddle.
“Not until that chimney’s swept.”
Joe was always so practical, but a date stripping wallpaper wasn’t what she’d had in mind. “How many layers of wallpaper are there, for goodness’ sake? Oh look, Joe. There’s something here.” Her interest peaked.
Hallo. The wallpaper was yellow flowers and the lettering was blue crayon.
“I wonder who wrote it?” said Sara. “Looks like a child’s writing.”
“Well whoever it was couldn’t spell ‘Hello’.”
“Oh Joe, don’t you think it’s mysterious and romantic finding a message like that?”
“It’s hardly a message, Sara. It’s graffiti on an old mouldy layer of wall paper from dear knows how far back. My great, great aunt might have written it herself when she was just a kid. Bet she got a right ticking off too. These walls aren’t going to take paint, you know. I’ll most probably have to re-plaster.”
“You could repaper.”
“Repaper? After stripping all this? You okay in the head? Come on — time to knock off. I’m ravenous.”
“Lend us your marker.”
“I want to leave a message back and see what happens.”
“You’re puddled. Comes from hugging all them trees.”
“Oh give over, Joe. It’s a bit of fun.”
“And what if you get an answer? Would that be fun, would it? You’d be scared shitless, I’ll bet.”
“Tut.” Sara snatched the marker and wrote ‘Hello, I’m Sara’ under the message.
“Okay, I’m outa here. You coming or what?”
“You don’t have an ounce of romance in you, Joe.”
Sara followed Joe into the room a few days later. “What the hell…?”
The original message now said Hallowe’en.
“Joe, that’s this weekend,” she said. “What do you think it means? Do you think we should come and find out? Maybe we’ll get the rest of it.”
“Yeah, why not. Maybe the ghosts’ll throw us a party,” he said.
“Joe! Here, give us that pen again.” She wrote, ‘We’ll be here,’ on the wallpaper.
“Well I’m not stripping any more then,” said Joe. “I think I’ll get that chimney swept so we can have a fire. It’s too cold to work in here anyway.”
Joe locked up.
Hallowe’en, and the house looked really spooky. Sara went into the room first. She wanted to see whether there was any new message. There was. It said, ‘I’ve got your number.’ Before she could react, her phone buzzed.
“It can’t be.” she said. “Ghosts don’t use modern phones, do they?”
“What? You think they use old-fashioned ones, then?” said Joe.
“It’s a text. It says, ‘dining rm’”.
Sara made her way there with Joe hot on her heels. She gingerly opened the door and was greeted by an overwhelming s h r i e k of noise — popping sounds, explosions and voices – TRICK OR TREAT; followed by general hilarity. Sara’s heart thumped. Over twenty people all in costume — a whole party, eats, drinks laid out — even champagne on ice.
“What’s with the champagne?”
“New message here for someone called Sara,” said Joe. “Will you marry me?”
Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets. Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The binnacles Shorts Poetry comp 2009, Inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009 and Toe Tags. Read her at Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. Oonah reads some of her poetry here. Other work including her Novella, A Genie in a Jam, can be found at Bewildering Stories. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook. Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.
This story is sponsored by
Debi Blood — No Satyrs were harmed in the production of The Glendale Witch.