It was early morning. Red roses and golden sunshine enveloped me. The rose wallpaper covered the walls lit by the sun that glittered in through the windows. I lay in my bed, sweating with fever, suffering from the flu. From my viewpoint in the bed I could see the trees blowing in the breeze as if bragging at the peak of their fall color. They were translucent from the light and dazzling to my tearing eyes. I could hear my mother in the kitchen, humming to herself and I smelled the soup cooking on the stove. I lay quietly “suffering” in bed wishing I was outside jumping with my friends in the leaves piled on the curb or roller skating on the newly paved tree lined street.
The rose bedroom was my favorite in this early 1900’s style, two story house on Edgerton Street sporting a house-wide front porch leading to an entranceway with two doors to pass through into the parlor. Our upright piano sat in the parlor across from the staircase with a wooden railing, one of two staircases in the house. The back stairs were enclosed and fetching as a beloved play place for my fluid childhood imagination. The rose bedroom was large and bright, a corner room mostly reserved for guests or occasional renters in our home. The renters are another wonderful story.
Of course when the rose room was occupied I had to move into another room; either the small back room not much larger than 5′ x 7′, or when my beloved older brother was away, (college or army) into his front room. My brother, a born electrical engineer, devised light switches mounted on the bed rail to engage or close the ceiling light so popular in that era, a fan to blow in hot weather and music system of some sort. These were bonuses easing my having to share the rose room with others.
I also missed my dad, a Violist with the Philharmonic, the troup now on a 2 week tour in the Northeast. They still traveled by train, the favorite mode of the (mostly) men players before airline travel became available for touring. Dad was due home soon. As usual, I tried to color or play with my Alexander doll, but readily fell asleep, waking to find a PBJ or peanut butter and banana sandwich and glass of milk next to my sunlit bed. They were left untouched, not having an appetite. Perhaps it was the medicine I had to take that made me even sleepier and led to some vivid dreams. I was in such a revery that when my dad walked quietly into my room, darkened by the deep night. I saw him in a blur, relished his hugs and kisses and promises to spend time with me the next morning before his next rehearsal.
As he left my room, my head fuzzy with sleep, I noticed a package on the night table but was too tired to open it until dawn came and I awakened with the sunlight glinting in my eyes. I reached for the package, wrapped in newsprint with orange grosgrain ribbons. I ripped it open to discover a wonderful wax witch candle.
It was a day before Halloween (and my dad’s birthday.) My eyes must have glowed with delight. The witch stood as close to my bed as possible and I held her on and off for most of the day making up stories and talking to her excitedly with my raspy voice. I knew that dad had missed me during the tour.
Through the window that mother had opened to freshen my room, I could hear the voices of my schoolmates skipping their way to school just 3 houses away. Was it the breeze I wondered as the wax witch seemed to quiver and to grow, sweeping with her broom and gesturing to me to climb aboard the broomstick. I held on with all my might as we swept through the open window and flew above the tree tops, my eyes probably wide with wonder. I picked out my friends walking to school, rooftops of their neighboring houses and the volleyball and softball games crammed into the time until the starting school bell would resound in the clear air. How I wanted to call to those on the ground with a “look at me.” But we were too high to be heard.
Still holding fast to the broomstick, the upward draft pulled us higher and higher and further away from home. The clouds shimmered below us and the sky was the bluest I have ever seen. “Look there, it is Halloween Island,” the witch said quietly. We landed on a cloud full of wild looking creatures–chattering monkeys, big bats, slithering snakes, fiery dragons, blue and green monsters with ugly faces or many arms, some grabbing at me or pulling on my rose
colored nightgown, my beloved ballet slippers or my curly long hair. I held on even tighter, feeling my eyes wide open with fear. The wax witch smiled and giggled as we swooped this way and that way to avoid the danger. A winged dragon with fiery breath that singed my eyes, pulled roughly at my foot wrenching me free from my grip on the broomstick. I could not hold on and the dragon ran with me to a forest. “Help. help I yelled,” trying to kick myself free, help wax witch help meeeee!”
The dragons breath was hot, about to catch my hair on fire. We moved deeper into the dark and dank forest. “Help, help” I cried again and again, terrified. The dragon stopped short. Three giant chattering monkeys grabbed me from the dragons burning arms and ran out of the forest. My wax witch swooped down and I grabbed the broomstick and held on until my hands ached. Shaking and scared, I let out a big, shaky sigh. The witch gave me a hug with one arm and said, “My friends came to the rescue and I bet that shook you up a bit. What a good sport you are and you look unharmed except for missing a slipper.” I gasped, but was happy to be flying again.
My friend announced, “Let’s visit my home sky island to see the excitement for Halloween.” We flew for a long time until literally out of the blue there appeared a colorful and waxy town with shiny houses, trees and flowers and other wax witches welcoming us to their home town. I heard cackles and chants, saw witches both ugly, scary, jeering and frightening, but some friendly and smiling like my friend. “Come, let’s have a treat.”
We were met by ghostly characters appearing in and out of the mist, glaring or shimmering in and out of view and disappearing, frightening me until I could see the delight in their eyes and hear giggles in their throats. Fried donuts, corn candy, bowls of floating apples, cobwebs, jack o’lanterns, glasses of cider, broomsticks, witches hats and masks of all sorts floated around me for the taking. The fried donuts were delicious, the cider warm and the apples crunchy. I felt wide awake and happy.
Lightening flashed followed by a long lasting clap of thunder. It grew very dark. I felt cold and shivered, I felt hot and sweaty. We swooped in the air once again until all was quiet but the thunder sounding in the distance. My eyes popped open, strange, I lay shivering in my bed. My wax witch was on the table as if we had not flown away. But, her wick was lit and shimmering before my unbelieving eyes.
I watched the flame, mesmerized and full of wonder, perhaps hypnotized by the mysteriously lit candle light. Dawn light was streaming through the window as I awoke.
I reached for the waxy friend next to my bed. She was now a lump of melted wax, orange and black and sitting on the little broomstick that had been in her arms. Her witches hat perched burned and ruined on top of the melted pile of wax. I must have cried out because my dad came into my room alarmed and worried. He saw the melted gift, wondering how the candle was lit and why one ballet slipper missing. I reveled in his warming and welcome hugs.
Mom walked in adding her soft hugs and kisses and expressed sorrow for the melted witch. They sat and listened with glee to my tales of flying and the witchy adventures. “It could only have been magic” they both concluded and were delighted that I was feeling better, back to behaving more like their little girl.
I dreamed I was flying for more many nights to come.