A Halloween Story, October 31, 2014

Mrs. Berns was my high school algebra teacher, and unlike most of the spinster teachers at my southern, private high school – you knew Mrs. Berns was different. She was in her late 60s, easily recognizably among the teachers for her short bob of white hair and petite frame. The Kids-Who-Smoked (an exclusive club of students who illegally smoked cigarettes after school; I wasn’t a member) told me that she was among the few Teachers-Who-Smoked (an equally exclusive and controversial club). That fact, paired with the casual “damn-its” she let out when she was doing algebra on the board, I guessed she wasn’t as genteel as she let on.

One year, on Halloween, she stood in front of the class and folded her hands at her chest.

“You know,” she said. “I really don’t like Halloween. When I was a teenager, my friends and I went and snuck into this abandoned house in the neighborhood. Supposedly it was haunted. Well anyway, we had a séance and when we left we saw this thing on the wall, written in the dust. It said, ‘You’ll all die in five.’ Well, the first five years ago, my best friend Dave, on Halloween, went into work and shot everyone with a rifle. Then took his own life.”

The class reared back in their seats. One of the boys, nearly said “shit” but then stopped himself when he saw her face; a reprimand was coming.

“Then five years later,” she continued. “the only other girl that was with us was out driving her car and just started hitting random children on the street on purpose. Then she rammed her car into a street light. She died instantly. The last guy Matthew also did some crazy thing, five years after her. Also on Halloween.”

The class only continued to stare, shocked.

“And then, of course, I mention all this because it’s Halloween today and it’s been five years. I’m the only one left. And it’s funny, I don’t feel so well myself…”

Mrs. Berns sighed deeply. She looked at the ground. Myself and a few other students swallowed and shifted in their seats.

“I don’t feel well at all,” she said. Then she sprung up in the air, holding her hands out like claws, screaming – “Arrgggg!”

The entire class jumped in their seats. I even screamed. Then Mrs. Berns laughed – a cackle – letting  a sly smile creep across her face.

“Happy Halloween.”