Halloween Haunts: MAMA AND THE MATCHES by Rosemary Thorne
She had never been fond of Halloween, my poor dear, and as the season approached she used to get thinner and thinner, bluer, much more translucent, her fair skin producing an effect of iridescence, as if she were turning into an ultraviolet bulb, and some would say that it was just because things get busier in the Fall, and she was busier, anyway, she had many more visitors because October is the right time to see the mummy and its light breathing and to get a scare of two if it happens that it opens its eyes, it would look at you as a wild beast, folks began to say that it was a sign of good luck, that it meant that you were powerful enough to be acknowledged by its gaze, and you know how guys are, I might have other theories, but who cares, you could read all about it in a couple of tour guides dedicated to horror, all very hush-hush, you know?, because when the show gets too popular they have to move out and a year or two always passes before they reappear on the map again, it’s so wrapped up in mystery that it really awakes a morbid curiosity among all kinds of public, and she is included, I mean, she is truly an attention-catcher, definitively, the audience consider her part of the show, especially when the curtain rises and she has to light the candles, even in the dark it is obvious that her hands tremble tremendously, that she never overcame her trauma, although nobody knows what happened for certain, nobody knows the real story, legend has it that mama was indeed a very violent woman, causing more than one incident in the community, but the thing is that the fuzz was over such small things that nobody would be brave enough as to report her to the police and stop her, it was all about small things indeed, but those kind of tiny details that really mess up your life, and at the end of the day you would cross the street in order to avoid her and her enforcing character, it was a bit terrifying, especially when old mama was wielding her stick, a really sturdy wooden stick, children would run away, they would run away, how could they not, children are so intuitive, they see everything with their minds and also with their eyes, with so many eyes it would indeed scare adults, she was probably seven, I think, when it happened, old mama was a great cook but a terrible manager, she was really awful running the place, many evenings deliveries were late and she had to get a ride to get the groceries herself, and in those occasions her two kids would serve dinner, I remember that for H season mama prepared white rice skulls over-spiced with homemade ketchup, and she had also arranged a sort of altar with long candles that needed to be lighted, we were so afraid of fire, so afraid of her, one night mama grabbed us by the arm, brought us in front of the altar and told her, as she was the older, than she was in charge of the candles from then on, extracting from her pocket a box of matches, we were so scared, mama opened the box and took a match and struck its head on the side of the box producing fire, a small flame of dancing orange fire, and then she commanded “strike it”, handing her the small cardboard box, and she was so scared, we were so little, her hands were trembling when she took the box, very very scared, scared of mama, scared of her screaming, knowing too well the meaning of mama removing her rings if you hesitated after a command of her, “strike it”, mama insisted yelling, taking another match and knocking its head against the rough side of the box. Do it.
The accident occurred many years later, and nobody knows for sure how the fire started, and why old mama neither died nor lived. It came a moment in which she had to be discharged from hospital, as the bills were as horrendous as her burnt flesh. How would she come up with the idea of the show, I really don’t know and I really don’t care. I asked her to run away with me, she protected me so many times that I owe her my sanity. But that time she left me on my own. The real horror story hides behind her reasons to stay. And I am sorry, I don’t like Halloween either.
ROSEMARY THORNE is a Spanish bilingual writer living in Madrid, Spain, who has been her entire life producing fiction in her mother tongue, with not much local professional encouragement. That’s why in 2019 she became a member of the HWA and began to think Horror in English terms. It’s important to mention that she was born in 1968, year of shocking revolutions, beautiful women and great red wine, and that’s why she doesn’t give up: she will have her first novel published in Spain by the end of 2021, and her goal for 2022 is to populate the world with her monsters. Find out more about her on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/777rosemarythorne) and her Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/elpactodelas12uvas/)