The lightning flashed. Alice sat by the window and watched the storm. There would be no trick-or-treaters tonight. She smiled and lit a cigarette, watching the rain beat down.
The house shook as thunder rolled across the sky. The storm must be directly above her. She was its center, perfect. The world outside turned white and then dark grey again, immediately followed by another burst of thunder. She stood and paced into the living room.
Her cat hissed from its hiding place under the sofa as Alice stepped near. Foolish beast. It was a night of magic: the cat should be filled with exhilaration, not cowering in fear. She turned out the lights and lit a candle, placed it on a small table in the center of the room. The flame flickered and then grew strong, casting shadows around the room.
She sat on the old armchair facing the candle and made herself comfortable. All Hallows Eve, the dead would walk the earth. She was only interested in one. She waited.
At five to midnight, she looked around. Surely he should be here by now? She frowned and then jumped up from her seat and moved to the cabinet. Brandy. How could she have forgotten.
She opened the bottle and splashed brown liquid onto the table around the candle. As an afterthought, she put the bottle to her lips, felt it burn her throat as it went down.
“Now, Harry,” she said quietly. “Now come and talk to me, before I pour away the rest.” She sat back down, cradling the half-empty bottle in her arms.
Another crack of thunder and the candle blew out, leaving her in darkness. A chill breeze passed the back of her neck.
No response but the moan of the storm outside.
“Harry, if you are there, there is only one thing I want to know.”
Alice waited a moment and then continued.
“All those years we lived together, all those years we bickered and fought and drove each other crazy, did you think we would be happier apart? Did you stay for because you had to? Or because… because you wanted to.”
Nothing happened. She clutched the brandy bottle closer and spoke again, the words rushing out.
“Because, well, because I thought it would be easier without you but… but now that you are gone, I miss you. I miss you, Harry. I don’t want to be without you.”
Lightning lit up the room and a loud crack echoed in from the garden. She turned around and watched as the old pine tree glowed for a moment before slowly tipping towards the house, towards her. Alice began to run from the room and then stopped.
She had just enough time to lift the brandy bottle to her lips before the tree crashed through the window.
Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is a German-American writer who lives in Spain and watches other people’s dreams.