“I heard this place is haunted,” the excited boy in the skeleton costume declares.
Dressed in powder blue, carrying a wand tucked carefully in her free hand, Esmerelda chuckles as she opens the door.
“Aren’t you terrifying?” she mock-gasps. Nothing scares her, not really. But, it’s fun to say.
A minute later, a few candy bars poorer, Esmerelda closes the door, sets down the basket, and opens her locket. There it is, as she remembers: Edward’s portrait, a painted memory, of her first and only child, dead for almost three hundred years, dead before he turned forty, dead of the so-called Spanish plague. Or was it another plague? There have been so many.
How many lives has she lived, how many identities, since she gave up the ability to have another child, to feel that joy and that pain?
Summoned by another knock, Esme picks up the basket and goes to the door. If only they knew how many ghosts live inside the confines of her mind. If only they knew.