Pine Valley went all out when it came to Halloween. The town decorated like they were competing for an award, and knowing the citizens of the tiny city, they probably were. The streetlights had cobwebs and large plastic spiders hanging from them. Ghoulish ghosts and goblins were plastered on shop windows. Skeletons danced merrily together on the façade of City Hall. Along with the numerous decorations, the children of the town were out in abundance. All Hallows Eve was a time for free candy and silly costumes. Handfuls of children, bunched together with cheerful faces and orange pumpkin baskets, hurtled through the streets, eagerly racing up to doors and ringing the bell.
A trio of witches skipped along the sidewalk, passing by Bianca without a second glance. Bianca smiled to herself at their childlike innocence, thinking back to when she possessed such a gift. It had been so long since her life wasn’t filled with drama and heartache. When was the last time she even got dressed up for Halloween? Her breath hitched, and she covered her mouth with the back of her hand to hold in the threatening sob.
Two Halloweens ago, she went to a costume party for school with Leo.
One Halloween ago, she was with Frankie.
Bianca blinked at the familiar sting of tears. Both were dead. Leo’s funeral had been six days ago. Frankie’s was close to a year. Two people she cared so much about gone in an instant. There was nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t help them when they needed it. It was all because of Vanessa. She took both of them away.
Inhaling deeply, Bianca shut her eyes. She mustn’t think about Vanessa. Nothing good came from thinking about that devil of a woman. Bianca was kindhearted and would never wish true harm on another, but she was glad Vanessa went over those falls. Vanessa got exactly what she handed out to others – death.
Bianca turned off the main road and started to make her way toward Myrtle’s. It was a lovely evening. It was still rather warm for this time of year, and the nearly cloudless sky allowed the full moon to radiate down on the earth. Perfect weather to go trick-or-treating in. Or, if you were like Maggie and every other young adult in Pine Valley who wasn’t named Bianca, it was the perfect night to go to a party. Maggie invited Bianca to tag along. There was some costume bash going on near the university campus, but Bianca declined. She wasn’t in the mood. Not so soon after Leo’s funeral. Maggie understood, and offered to stay with her, but Bianca refused to let someone else wallow in misery too. So, Maggie left in her sexy witch costume for a night of drunken partying.
Seeing the old boardinghouse, Bianca stopped moving. She should be out having fun. Not taking lonesome walks around town and then crashing in front of the television, like she was about to do. She was young. She had the world at her fingertips. She could be like Maggie, put on some sexy alluring costume and chat up a pretty girl. Leo would want that for her. He would want her to be happy. Bianca glanced up at the full moon and stars.
Frankie would too.
Bianca brought a hand to her chest. She was getting better. She didn’t think about the other Stone twin as much. Seeing Maggie everyday wasn’t painful like it used to be. The ache had slowly receded till it was nearly gone. She’d come to terms with the fact that Frankie was dead. Sometimes, though, she would look up at the stars and it would hit her. Frankie liked the stars. For some street kid who lived out of a knapsack, she knew a lot about them. A few nights they would lie outside and stare up at the clear dark sky. Frankie would point out different constellations, whispering their stories in Bianca’s ear.
Bianca shivered at the remembrance. No one understood how she could be with Frankie. If they saw her like Bianca did, if they spread out in the grass with their head on Frankie’s shoulder and listened to her gentle voice, they would understand. Bianca smiled ironically. This time last year, Frankie was alive. They were together. Bianca thought they’d be together forever.
A light breeze blew across her face, ruffling her hair and making the leaves rustle in the tree branches. A strange sensation swept through Bianca’s body, and her muscles shook. Frowning in confusion, she glanced around. Spinning in a tiny circle, she stopped abruptly.
In the darkness, someone stood behind her. They were so close Bianca could almost feel their soft breaths.
“Maggie?” Bianca’s eyes narrowed. “What are you doing?”
Maggie just stood there. Staring.
“Maggie?” what was going on? “Are you ok? Why aren’t you at the party?”
No response. No movement.
“Did something happen?” Bianca reached a hand out to her friend. Something was seriously wrong. “Did someone do something at the party?” Thoughts of spiked drinks made her cringe.
As her fingertips came within centimeters of the girl, Maggie jerked. Her entire body spasmed like she was being electrocuted.
“Maggie!” Bianca grasped the blonde’s shoulders, panic filling her. What was happening?
At Bianca’s touch, Maggie froze. A sharp spark flashed in her eyes, and she looked down at the ground. She panted roughly, like she’d just finished running a marathon. Scared and confused, Bianca kept her grip firm.
Maggie slowly opened her mouth. She moved her jaw up and down, as if she was testing it. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips. Her hands hung at her sides, and she flexed her fingers experimentally.
Maggie lifted her head, and Bianca gasped. Those eyes…they were still the same golden brown color she saw everyday. But, they were different. Maggie’s eyes were always filled with friendly happiness. These eyes, though, were so much more. There were traces of mischief, curiosity, and something darker. There was pain and guilt.
There was something there she hadn’t seen directed at her in close to a year. It couldn’t be true. It was a trick of the moonlight.
There was love.
“Maggie?” Bianca whispered, unable to tear her gaze away from those brown orbs. They looked so familiar. But, it couldn’t be.
Bianca’s hands flew back, and her eyes widened. “W-What did you call me?”
Maggie grinned crookedly.
Bianca shook her head and took a step back. Only one person ever called her that, and it wasn’t Maggie. “Why would you…this isn’t funny Maggie.” Bianca angrily crossed her arms, “Are you drunk?” Bianca once told Maggie about the name Frankie would call her from time to time that made her heart flutter. To call her that, especially at this time of year, “This isn’t funny at all.”
Maggie moved to shove her hands in her pockets, but the skin tight costume she was dressed in didn’t have any. Frowning, she looked at what she was wearing, “Tell me about it. Who would ever dress like this?”
Bianca watched as Maggie smoothed down the very short skirt. Earlier, the blonde had been very excited to get the costume and wear it out.
Maggie rolled her eyes and muttered, “What does this even cover? Man, this is not cool. Where does she keep her id or money?” Her hand slid along the low cut neckline that revealed ample amounts of cleavage, “Oh.”
Bianca didn’t know whether to laugh or be highly disturbed. “Maggie, are you on something?”
“I wish.” Maggie mumbled. “Someone needs to tell Mags to stop dressing like this.”
Maggie had clearly lost her mind.
Maggie glanced up at Bianca, and a smirk formed, “Now you, on the other hand, would look aces in this.”
WHAT? “Um…” Did Maggie just hit on her?
Maggie’s eyes roamed up and down, and her smirk turned into a tender grin, “God, I forgot how beautiful you are.”
Beautiful? “You saw me a few hours ago.”
The grin only grew deeper.
This was really weird. Bianca looked over Maggie, trying to figure out what was happening. The girl was standing squarely on the balls of her feet, her shoulders slouched down slightly. Her eyes twinkled, and her mouth was twisted into that charmingly lopsided grin only one of the Stone twins had perfected. But, just like that grin, the slouch and stance were not something that Maggie did. Maggie tended to smile fully and straight. She had good posture, and didn’t stand like she was ready to move at any moment.
That was Frankie.
It was all Frankie. The look, the speech, even the eye roll. Bianca felt the pit of her stomach drop to her ankles at the realization. But, it couldn’t be. Frankie was dead. Frankie was buried. Why would Maggie pretend to be Frankie? Some sick twisted joke? Maggie wasn’t like that. “Maggie, why are you acting like this?”
“Like what?” Maggie took a step forward.
God, she even swaggered like her.
Maggie’s grin dropped as Bianca stumbled back from her, “Bianca, it’s ok.”
“Why are you doing this?” she couldn’t believe Maggie! “This isn’t funny!”
“Maggie, stop it!” that voice. Oh, that voice. “You’re not Frankie!”
Maggie stopped and looked at her with such yearning it made Bianca’s heart quake.
With a tear rolling down her cheek, Bianca glared at her, “Stop it. Are you trying to hurt me? Is this some sick prank? Frankie’s dead.”
“I know.” Maggie blinked. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, either.”
“What?” Why would she say something like that?
Maggie shrugged, “Death…kinda boring, I gotta tell ya.”
Boring? “Frankie being dead is not boring. It’s terrible.” She turned her back to Maggie, unable to look at her.
A shiver ran down Bianca’s spine at the loving tone.
“Bianca, look at me.”
No, it wasn’t real. It wasn’t right.
“Bianca, please, would ya look at me.”
Bianca felt herself be turned around, smooth hands grasping her arms. Her mouth trembled at the beseeching gaze that burned into her soul.
“Look at me, Bianca. Look at me.”
Bianca felt her face begin to crumble, “You can’t be her.”
“Can’t I?” Maggie cupped her cheek, “You were always the one believing in fate and all that jazz.”
“Frankie?” a whimper filled with hope and fear.
“Knew you’d get it sooner or later.” Maggie caressed her cheekbone.
“Funny how being dead let’s you do stuff. Ya know, walk through walls, travel around the world in a second,” she took a deep breath, “maybe, take over someone’s body for a few minutes.” She shrugged casually, “Weird stuff.”
“It wasn’t like Maggie was doing anything special. That boy was bad news anyway, trust me. He has a girlfriend.” Maggie snorted.
“You possessed Maggie?”
Maggie shrugged again.
Bianca stared at her.
Then, she laughed bitterly.
“Very funny, Maggie. Good one.” Bianca backed away, causing the girl’s hand to drop.
“Not joking, Bianca.” Maggie, or Frankie, or whoever, replied.
“Yes, you are!” Bianca waved a hand, “There’s no such thing as ghosts and possession. So, you can stop it now. You got me. Way to go.” She didn’t know whether to cry or hit Maggie. This was one of the cruelest things anyone had ever done to her.
Maggie stayed quiet. After a moment, she began to speak, “The first time we kissed, my knees buckled. You had to catch me, and it was one of the most humiliating things to ever happen to me. I couldn’t exactly tell you I’d never felt anything like that before, ever. Frankie Stone doesn’t swoon like some romantic comedy cliché. You thought it was sweet, though. The first time we made love, I was shaking so badly you had to take the lead. You must have thought I was a virgin, but the fact was, I was overwhelmed by you. That’s it. That night, I found out you’re ticklish at your hipbone. I kissed you so many times there, and you both hated and loved it. You liked holding me more than being held, and you said it was because you wanted to protect me. You say you like to sleep on the left side of the bed, but you always end up in the middle. You said that was ok, because I liked the right side, and you wanted to be next to me.”
Frankie paused and looked into Bianca’s tearful eyes, “And I sure hope you didn’t tell Maggie any of that, because it’s kinda private and I’d rather it just stay between us. Especially that knee buckling thing.”
Bianca felt like she was going to faint. She’d never told anyone about that. It was all true, though. Their first kiss, when they made love, even the ticklish spot. Frankie was the first to find it. Not even Sarah knew about it.
“In the flesh, so to speak.”
It didn’t make sense. It wasn’t possible. But, at that moment, Bianca didn’t care. With wild abandon, she flung herself into the blonde’s arms. Frankie held her as she cried, not even flinching as Bianca’s nails dug into her exposed back.
“Frankie, oh my, Frankie.” Bianca clung to her.
“Shh, it’s ok, Bianca’la. It’s alright.”
“I miss you so much. I’m so sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry for. I’m the one who messed up.”
“I should have,”
“You did the right thing. I hurt you. I was the one, not you.” Frankie soothed.
Bianca sobbed harder. She should have been there.
“I’m so happy you weren’t there when it happened.” Frankie knew what she was thinking. “So happy you didn’t have to see that.”
“I miss you.”
“Miss you, too.” Frankie gently ran a hand through Bianca’s hair. “I’m ok, though. I’m ok.”
Bianca sniffled and tucked her head into the crook of Frankie’s neck. She felt Frankie stiffen, and a harsh breath sounded in her ear.
“I have to go.” Frankie murmured sadly.
“What?” Bianca’s head whipped up. “Go? Go where?”
Frankie smiled sorrowfully, “Back.”
Frankie nodded toward the sky.
“No. No, no, no.” Bianca shook her head. “You can’t go. You can’t.”
“You just got here.”
Frankie lowered her eyes, “It’s almost midnight.”
“So? Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please, Frankie.”
“Ain’t my choice.” Frankie twirled a strand of brunette hair behind Bianca’s ear, “Nothing was ever my choice. I would have met you differently if it was. Would have loved you better.”
“Frankie,” Bianca grabbed her face.
Frankie swallowed thickly, “I’m glad I met you. It was the pleasure of my life knowing you.”
“No, please.” Bianca begged. “I love you.” She lowered her head and pressed her lips to Frankie’s. It tasted of tears and love, her mind exploding at the sensations long thought lost.
Frankie gently broke away, and Bianca gasped raggedly, trying to hold on as long as she could. Frankie brushed a kiss to her cheek. Her lips traveled lightly, skimming up her jaw and settling on her ear. Bianca quivered, falling apart.
“I love you more than anything, Bianca’la. Happy Halloween.”
Frankie lurched back so hard she flew away from Bianca. All the younger woman could do was watch as the body twisted and shook.
Then, it was still.
Friendly brown eyes glanced around in confusion before landing on Bianca, “Bianca, what’s going on?”
Bianca could only cry as Maggie went up to her.
On a clock inside the house, the first minute of November ticked by.