Midnight was meowing behind the front door when I got back. I unlocked and opened it to scoop him up. Burying my face in his warm black fur, I tried to hold my tears in. I closed the door with my foot and sat on the sofa. I rubbed the cat against my cheeks and made soft meowing noises back. Midnight, strangely a big fan of cuddles for a young male cat, demand more.
‘Did you miss me? Yeah, you did. You eat all your food? Good kitty,’ I baby talked.
He gave me a string of meows then fell into purring and curling into ball in my lap. I stroked him and watched him dozing off. The warm and content feelings jostled with my sad ones and I did wipe the corners of my eyes.
‘He just had to bring her up,’ I told Midnight, ‘I know I shouldn’t complain. It’s still important to talk about her, but today? No. I don’t want to think about it.’
My phone ring and I scrambled to find it in my bag whilst trying not to disturb Midnight.
‘Becks, hey! Is your car okay? When you coming over?’ Dawn’s excited and rushed voice shouted in my ear.
‘Car’s fine. What time did I say? Five or six?’ I answered.
‘It’s quarter to now,’ Dawn responded then began speaking to someone else in the background.
‘It is? Oh. I still need to ice the gingerbreads. Everything else is ready though. So, six then.’
‘Can’t you come now, please?’
I petted Midnight as a long hum escaped my pursed lips.
‘We need to set up the table then get ready and that’s going to take a while. I need to wash my hair still and Amber just found out she can’t get into her costume.’
‘It’s baby weight!’ Amber’s voice yelled back followed by bursting girly laughter.
‘I can’t,’ Becks pressed, ‘if you want them to look right, I just can’t. And there’s no way I’d want to rush them after all my hard work.’
Dawn signed heavily down the phone then whispered to someone else, ‘she can’t get here for another hour.’
‘Look. I’m about to do them now, so I’ll just set the table when I get there. Okay?’
‘All right, please try to hurry though,’ Dawn said back unable to hide the disappointed tone.
‘I’ll try. Bye.
‘Bye, Becks. She says an hour. I’m going to wash my hair…’
I hung up, then moving Midnight off my lap, went into the kitchen. The heavy smell of ginger, cinnamon and toffee blasted all other smells away. I checked the toffee apples and finding them set, moved them on to the table with the collection of other things. Then I put all the gingerbread shapes on one plate and prepared the icing.
‘It’s too silent, I mumbled.
Finishing off the icing, I went and turned the TV on. Midnight jumped up on the coffee table, tail swinging and watched me channel flicking. There wasn’t much on, so I put the news on and went back to the kitchen. Feeling better, I sorted out the icing for colouring, then got piping the designs on the biscuits.
I didn’t need any inspiration or drawings, I had been making these gingerbreads for the last five weeks. With the news reporters droning on in the background, my hands worked by themselves and I began thinking again. My dad had been right about my mum. Tonight had been her favourite out of the whole year, just like it was mine. She would spend the whole of October planning and preparing. Sometimes, especially as I got older, she’d call me in to help make cakes or muffins or something that involved pumpkins.
I felt my chest get a little tight, but instead of stopping I thought it best just to go on thinking about her. She was never a ‘normal’ mother or wife, being a white witch saw to that and yet, she manged to embrace everything and make it happen. That’s what my dad was talking about before.
Almost an hour later, I was done with the forty gingerbreads. Leaving them to officially set, I wrapped up each toffee apple in black Halloween foil finished with a bit of ribbon and put them in a carry bag. Digging out my notebook, I ticked them and the biscuits off.
‘So, now I get it all into the car, grab my suitcase, put food down for Midnight then it’s party time!’
Midnight meowed at his name, but didn’t appear, which meant something on the TV had his attention. I put some more food in his bowl, topped up his water, then picking up my notebook again, ran through the list once more; ‘pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, Halloween cookies, lemon cheese cake spider web, Halloween cupcakes, Graveyard mud moose pie, toffee apples and gingerbreads. Yep, all done. Okay, to the car.’
I grabbed a large bag from the table, which had the cookies, cheese cake and muffins carefully boxed up inside and headed to the front door. I got my keys from my handbag on the way and went out to the car. I spent a good few minutes, carrying stuff out and storing it as carefully as possible in the boot and backseat.
Midnight tore himself away from the TV to watch me. Finally sorted, I locked the car and hurried upstairs. Taking my small suitcase -thankful I packed my clothes and personal stuff last night- from the corner and going back down again. I nudged Midnight out the door and hurried to the car. Ignoring his howl of unhappiness, I put my suitcase on the passenger seat.
‘Done. Everything. Good. Front door. Midnight, what are doing? Are you in or out, kitty? Aww, I’m sorry.’
I picked him up and Midnight tried to climb on to my shoulders.
‘I’m sorry you can’t come. Oh! The TV.’
I darted back inside, putting Midnight on the sofa and turned it off. Then remembering, I hadn’t closed any curtains or checked the windows or the back door, ran around the house doing that.
‘I’m good now. Bye, Midnight.’
He gave me a long mournful meow, like a toddler who didn’t want to be left. I waved good bye to him all the same and locked the front door. Getting into Herbs was like stepping back into the kitchen. The car smelt of warm spices, pumpkin and other sweet delights. I checked the time and then my phone. Dawn’s house was half an hour away and it was five past six.
I texted her then drove off, the excitement of the party finally hitting me.
To Be Continued…