The four of us sat around the campfire on a couple of logs. We were far enough back into the woods that no other lights showed anywhere except the twinkling stars and the full October moon - the Hunter's moon. Now and then the fast moving clouds would alternately hide and then frame the lunar globe. "Ghostly galleons, tempest tossed..." Tom had his arm around my shoulders and Ron had his around my sister.
It was perfect weather for Halloween. Temperature in the lower sixties. Just cool enough to bring a slight shiver now and then but warm enough that the zippered sweatshirts we were all wearing were quite enough. A light breeze was rustling the autumn leaves, now and then sending showers of the colored messengers to the already leaf covered ground. Higher up a faster moving wind was driving the clouds, carrying the hint that it might rain - or might not.
Ron began a ghost story. It was one we had all heard before but that did nothing to detract from the effect. I snuggled a little closer to Tom and smiled to myself, thinking how we had all come to love our October cookouts and games and how, a long time ago, it had first started.
The first time was when we had just turned ten. My name is Lisa Morton and Laura is my twin sister. That first time our mom had come down with the flu and dad was going to take us out Trick-or-Treating. Then late that afternoon he got a call from his work. I never knew what it was exactly but something had come up that made it necessary for him to go in and work on something that night. He didn't just leave us disappointed. Before he told us he couldn't take us, he had called the Stevens, friends of his and mom's, and made arrangements for them to take us along with their son, Tom. Our parents often went over to see the Stevens or had them over to see us, so we both knew Tom and frequently played with him and some of his friends.
We weren't real happy about dad not being able to take us. For one thing, he usually took us out for something special to eat after we had made the rounds. But at least we were still going to get to go. Mom was in bed resting and dad drove us over to the Stevens' on his way to his work. He said it would probably be late when he came back for us, but Mrs. Stevens assured him that would be no problem.
One of both the good and bad things about being twins is that we often dressed identically. Our costumes that year were no exception. Laura and I were both dressed as cat burglars. Black pants, black sweatshirts, black shoes, gloves and loot bags. We had little black eye masks and to make sure everyone knew what kind of burglars we were, we had little black cat ears on our heads. (I suppose mom could have put little tails on our costumes, too, but she probably thought that would have been a bit much.)
Anyway, when we got to the Stevens' we found that Ron, one of Tom's friends we knew pretty well, was coming along also and to top everything off, both Tom and Ron were dressed in police uniforms, complete with night sticks and play handcuffs. It was just chance but I don't think it could have been planned better if we had known we'd be going out together. Our dad and Mrs. Stevens both broke up laughing when they saw us together. Mr. Stevens was away on some kind of business trip, so Mrs. Stevens was going to take us by herself. This didn't bother her because she knew we were all good kids and wouldn't be any real trouble.
Our dad left and pretty soon the five of us set out walking through the neighborhood. The official Trick-or-Treat time in our area ended at eight-thirty but by then we had all collected nice bags of candy and other junk. We had also received a lot of comments about our costumes, especially with the two boys dressed as police.
When we got back to the Stevens' house it was still only a quarter of nine and we didn't expect dad back for at least a couple of hours. Ron was staying overnight with Tom so he didn't need to go home early either. The Stevens' house was on a large lot - about an acre, I think - and the back part had a lot of trees. Closer to the house there was a fire pit with benches around it. Mrs. Stevens lit a fire and brought out some brownies, milk and some other stuff and we all sat around the fire eating, drinking and laughing. After about a half hour Mrs. Stevens went back inside but left the rest of us out there.
I'm not sure who started it - one of the boys, although I don't remember which one - but we started telling ghost stories. Soon everyone got into the act, each of us trying to tell a more scary story. Then Tom moved around behind me without my noticing while Ron was telling a story. Just when he got to the point where the monster jumped out, Tom stuck his fingers into my sides and yelled "boo". Both Laura and I screamed and I turned around and tried to poke Tom back. Ron was laughing so hard he could hardly breathe and Laura started after him for thinking it was so funny. It was kind of funny and soon Laura and I were laughing too.
When we calmed down Tom started to tell about a ghost he said lived in the trees in the back of their lot. I think he was making it up on the fly because he contradicted himself a couple of times. Laura and I said we didn't believe him and he told us to go look for ourselves. We agreed and set off into the shadows among the trees. We had a pretty good idea that the boys were going to try and sneak up on us and scare us. We decided to wait in ambush and scare them instead, so we hid behind a couple of big trees along the path.
Sure enough in a couple of minutes the two boys came along the path, giggling and trying to keep quiet. We waited until they had just passed us and then jumped out and yelled. The result was quite satisfactory with them screaming. Soon we were all laughing again. Someone suggested hide and seek. First we girls would hide and the boys would try to find us. Then the reverse.
By the time our dad arrived about ten thirty, we were all getting worn out from all the running and playing, but we all agreed it was the best Halloween ever.
Somehow it became a tradition for the four of us to go out together on Halloween. Sometimes our parents would take us while other times it was the Stevens or Ron's parents. One time it was raining so when we got back we played inside, but all the other times we ended the night with a fire, ghost stories and playing hide and seek in the shadows.
By the time we were in eighth grade we had stopped the Trick-or-Treat rounds but we still got together for Halloween and had our own party. None of the four of us were really big on parties as such, but we certainly enjoyed our own brand of Halloween fun. Tom's family had moved a little farther out to a place in the country where they had about forty acres, most of it woods. We still had the fire and the ghost stories and still played at hiding in the woods, but now the area for our games had gotten bigger.
Some other things had changed too. When the guys caught us it wasn't just to scare us. There were still the surprised cries and pokes to startle us, but now the touches seemed to last a little longer and hands slid around a little more than they used to. It wasn't just the guys - when we caught them the same thing happened. We were at the age where we were becoming interested in the opposite sex but hadn't begun to seriously explore those feelings just yet.
Laura and I had attended some mixed group things and even gone on double (or more) dates a couple of times as had the two boys. None of us had started to go on dates as just couples yet, but at least Laura and I enjoyed the touches involved in close dancing or touch football or similar activities. From what Tom and Ron sometimes said, they did also. Not to mention that their actions during our "hide and seeks" indicated the same thing. Maybe most surprisingly, somehow we had never gone on any of the double or group dates with either Tom or Ron. I still have no idea why not.
That night we sat around the fire and again told ghost stories. The stories got scarier and scarier and all of our pulses had begun to beat a little faster. Something else had changed a little also. I now was sitting next to Tom and Laura was over beside Ron. When we were all worked up to a nice level, we decided to play hide and seek again. Laura and I were given five minutes to go hide in the woods and then Tom and Ron would come and try to find us. We no longer wore costumes but in anticipation Laura and I were wearing dark jeans and sweatshirts to better hide.
We took off along a path into the woods. One of the nice things about being twins is that we thought so much alike that we needed very few words to communicate. We came to a split in the path and with only a word or two we divided the woods with Laura heading left and me right. I found a clump of three big trees growing in a small triangle just a little over a foot across. I was able to wedge myself in the center looking out at the path from ten feet away. In the shadows I expected to be totally invisible to anyone looking in my direction.
For what seemed like an awfully long time I stood there, breathing quietly, waiting for one of the boys to come along the path. The moon was first quarter so it was already sliding down the western sky leaving the woods lighted but with long shadows. A breeze was moving the fall leaves so their rustling covered most sounds a quiet person would make as he moved. Occasionally a small animal might make some scraping sounds as he moved through the crackling ground cover, but any man made sounds were too far away to hear.
.... There is more of this story ...