I remember when I heard the first knock.
Scared? I wouldn’t say that there was any real fear in me, no. Anxious? Yes. I had been alone for a long time, living in this cabin. I knew this place, every creak of every board, every whistle the wind called in through an open window, every shadow of every hour.
When the boy knocked on my door, it was unfamiliar. Of course I always knew that there was a chance of somebody finding me. My corner of the woods was remote, but it was still part of the woods.
I can still hear his faint words.
“Please, sir. May I come in? It’s awfully cold out here.”
I’d been hesitant to comply. I had looked left and right , then looked the boy up and down, then glanced over my shoulder at my cabin behind me and said, “Don’t you have a mother and father to look after you, boy? Run along now.”
“I don’t have a mother or a father, sir. Please will you let me in?”
Grudgingly I allowed the small thing to step inside and warm himself by the fire.
“What’s your name boy?” I had asked.
“Sorry sir, but I don’t think I have one.”
I had grumbled something unintelligible and then it hit me, I didn’t have a name either. “Yes, yes, very well, come in.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself boy. How did you find your way to my cabin?”
The boy had taken his time, tugging mittens off of his small pink hands and holding them nearer the red flames of the fire. “Sorry sir, I just can’t remember right now you see.”
“Don’t remember,” I had spluttered. “Why, how can that be—” and then I of course recalled that I couldn’t quite remember much about myself either.
“How long have you lived here sir? If you don’t mind me asking.”
I had frowned and tilted my head. “I can still remember the day I walked up to this cabin. I knocked on the door, like you did just now, and when nobody answered I went in. The place was empty. It was as if it was waiting for me. That was a long time ago.”
It struck me then that it really had been a long time ago. Decades at least.
“Weren’t you afraid of ghosts, sir? Or that the cabin was haunted?”
“Ghosts?” I had repeated doubtfully. “There isn’t any such thing! What nonsense.”
“Sir, you haven’t answered my question.”
“What’s that boy?”
“How long have you lived here?”
“Why it feels as if it’s been a hundred years,” I had muttered in reply.
The boy had laughed. “You don’t seem to have reached eighty!”
I frowned, not because his playful words mocked, but because it was then that a deep puzzling unease began to settle somewhere inside.
When the boy stopped laughing, his eyes grew round and large and he leaned in to whisper, “I can tell you a secret. I’ve been wandering out in the snow for years and years. Next week it’ll be the tenth.”
I had frowned almost angrily at him. “Let’s not joke boy. You can’t be more than seven.”
“I don’t grow older sir. And neither do you. We just are, now.”
A few days passed before the next knock. This time a young woman entered.
“Why, it’s so cold,” she murmured, breathing on her hands and rubbing them together.
“Yes, cold as death,” the boy agreed, a faint twinkle in his eye.
“Death,” I repeated vaguely.
“Cold as death!” the woman exclaimed. “And I seem to have forgotten something along the way!”
Happy Halloween! -Moony