All Hallow’s Eve

I do not enjoy All Hallows Eve, Halloween. In fact, it makes me a little bit sad. I cannot help remembering the story of that young boy who disappeared. Surely you have heard of him? It was a few years ago now. Just down this very street. Harvey. Yes, that was his name, or at least that is what I remember it to be.

It was only his second ever Halloween. The previous year he had gone ‘trick or treating’ with is best friend Elwood, along with Elwood’s family. The pair of them, each only four years old at the time, went as a two headed, three legged troll. Elwood’s mother had sewn the outfit for them.

Individually, Elwood and Harvey were both quite shy little boys, but together they possessed a quiet confidence. Elwood was the natural leader of the pair, Harvey always content to follow. For that first Halloween the boys went with a group from Elwood’s kindergarden. A happy, noisy bunch of eight boys and girls, along with the three parents who had drawn the short straws. Harvey in particular was excited mostly by the reactions that their costume received. He positively beamed every time one of the neighbours, upon opening their front doors, would comment on how good was his and Elwood’s character. He just loved being noticed, even if only as part of a pair.

Strangely for a little boy, he was not at all interested in the lollies and chocolates. He let Elwood have them all. For him, both the trick and the treat seemed to be in just being appreciated, acknowledged, noticed. When it was finally over, Harvey slept the night at Elwood’s place. The boys talked themselves to sleep planning the next year’s characters. The costumes. The mannerisms they would act out to bring the characters to life.

The lead up to their next Halloween started excitedly, with several weeks of anticipation and planning. The boys finally decided on their costumes. They would be going as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. The inseparable twins from Alice’s dreamworld. Unusually, the costume choice was Harvey’s, not Elwood’s.

The first sign of trouble came a week before the day of Halloween. Elwood was feeling somewhat poorly and went to bed early, with a bit of a temperature. He awoke the following morning in a rash of itching spots. The poor thing had picked up chicken pox. At first, Harvey was just concerned for his friend. The disease was not very pleasant, but Harvey spend all day every day with Elwood in his room. He could not be persuaded to leave. Even the threat of contagion made no impression on his stoic soul.

But as the week dragged on it became obvious that Elwood would not be able to go trick or treating. Harvey was mortified. He began to have his first selfish concerns, so desperately did he want to go. It was the highlight of his young life but there was no way that he could go without Elwood. He was just too shy to go on his own. None of the other kids played with him, not even Elwood’s friends. They did not even talk to him. He just hung around in the background, anytime that Elwood was with other children, at the edge, out of notice.

He complained to his friend that it wasn’t fair. But Elwood, still itchy and grumpy from the chicken pox, and not a little annoyed that he too was going to miss out, got angry and lost his temper at Harvey. For the first time that either could remember.

“Why don’t you grow up and go on your own?” He shouted at Harvey. “Stop being such a baby.” Harvey said nothing. He just sat there, taking Elwood’s frustrated tirade. When Elwood finally stopped and rolled over in bed, turning his back on his friend, Harvey walked away in silence.

Come the afternoon of Halloween, Harvey somehow found the courage to join the kinder group. He had on his costume, a rather forlorn looking Tweedle Dee, and he walked along at the back of the group. Totally unnoticed.

To start with Harvey didn’t mind that the other children ignored him. He remembered the warm feelings he had felt the previous year, and walked up to the doors with quiet anticipation. But with the first house that the little troupe attended, his confidence and joy shattered. As he took his turn, at the end of the the line of giggling ghouls and laughing fiends, door after door closed in his face. Not one comment on is costume. Not a single piece of candy.

It was like living out a nightmare, a monsterous treadmill from which he could not escape. House after house the same thing. Harvey stoically held his tears at bay though his chest constricted against his pounding heart. Suddenly he realised that the next house was Elwood’s.

He pushed through the boisterous gaggle of ghouls and witches and stood defiantly at the front when Elwood’s father opened the door. Surely now he would be acknowledged. Finally someone would see him. But no. His best friend’s own father looked passed Harvey to the children behind him.

The dam cracked. Overwhelmed, Harvey ducked his way around Mr Dowd’s legs and he stumbled blindly to Elwood’s room. As he got to the half open door, through which was his only friend in the entire world, he stopped short, hearing Elwood’s mum arguing with Elwood.

“Enough is enough Elwood!” She shouted, in exasperation.

“You are five years old, nearly six. You will be a school boy next year.”

Elwood said nothing.

“You need to stop all this nonsense with Harvey. It has to end. You have real friends to play with now. You are too old to have imaginary friends any more. I want an end to this. Now!”

And, after a painfully drawn out pause, in a small voice Elwood replied. “Yes mum. I won’t talk about him anymore. I know that Harvey isn’t really real.”

Harvey, in a wash of pure anguish, turned and ran through the house. No longer restraining his shattered emotions, he burst through the retreating group of children. He dashed through the front gate, tears streaming from his eyes, and disappeared down the street.

Not a solitary person has seen or spoken to Harvey since.

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