Chapter 3. (continued)
We walked for a while, leaving the school behind us and passing through a section of Shayton Road that was mostly wooded lots, and the occasional farmhouse. The subdivision where Leah and I lived was maybe a mile up ahead.
Yes—there was a school bus at our disposal, and we could have ridden home. This was 1980—not 1930 or 1950. But riding the school bus meant an extra hour of travel time, due to the way the route was configured. We therefore walked home whenever weather permitted.
We had walked not far at all when Leah broached the subject of trick-or-treat. The idea of going out for “one last Halloween” had arisen spontaneously among the three of us several weeks ago, and Leah had seemed enthusiastic about the prospect at the time. Her next words led me to wonder if she might not be on the verge of backing out.
“Are the other kids in our class going out trick-or-treating this year?” she asked.
“I’d say about half and half,” Bobby answered. Bobby’s assessment was probably accurate, more or less. “Why?”
Leah shrugged, hitching her backpack higher on her back. “No reason.”
Of course there had been a reason, though. And while I was willing to let the matter drop, Bobby wasn't.
“Should we take a—what do they call it—a survey, Leah? Would you feel better about going out trick-or-treating if you found out that Brian Hailey and Sheila Hunt were going, too?”
This remark caused Leah’s face to turn red, ever so slightly. Brian Hailey was the likely captain of the basketball team, an all-around athlete since little league. Most of the girls in the seventh grade had a crush on him. Leah probably had a crush on him, too.
Sheila was his female double, more or less. Little Miss Popular. All the boys had noticed her, whispered shyly about her on the playground. The girls, meanwhile, were divided: between struggling to imitate her and hating her.
“Bobby, Bobby, Bobby,” Leah said, shaking her head. To my surprise, Leah was smiling. Bobby’s remark had sounded fairly nasty to me; but Leah had found it endearing, apparently. “Never mind: We’re going trick-or-treating. My mother has already made my costume. I’d never hear the end of it if I changed my mind now.”
“There he is,” I said. I was secretly glad to put an end to their all-too-cozy banter. But there was more to it than that: The ghost boy was here today—as he had been about two out of every three days over the past week or so. We were still a comfortable distance away from him. But we would have to pass by him in order to make it home.
He was sitting where he always sat: on a fallen log beside a stagnant pond that formed the pit of a little bowl of land alongside Shayton Road.
* * *
Serial be continued....
* * *
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