A Cup of Tea on Halloween Night (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of spooky flash fiction about a young woman’s splendid evening with her grandma with a strange twist. It’s about 770 words and has an estimated reading time of 3 minutes. Let me know what you think!

Every Halloween night, I went to my grandmother’s house to have tea and snacks. It was a tradition we’d kept going since I left for college and one that I very much looked forward to every year.

I didn’t see my grandmother much anymore now that I was older. Her name was Eugenia, she was widowed, and she was the sweetest old woman. We shared the loved of reading, and she’d let me borrow several books at a time.

This year, the sky was overcast, and there weren’t many children trick-or-treating in her neighborhood. Her living room light was on as I walked up to her door, and I could see her silhouette. She was sitting in her reading chair by the window, probably reading one of the classics like she always did.

“Oh, Lillian!” my grandmother said when she opened the door. “It’s been too long. How’s college? Any romance?” She perked up her eyebrows when she said this, then laughed. “Please, come in.”

She already had the tea kettle set up, along with an assortment of snacks and goodies. She’d always loved Halloween, and her house was decorated to the tilt. She made us cinnamon-spiced tea, and we sat down in the living room.

“It’s so good to see you, dear,” she said.

“Aw, you, too, grams. I’ve missed you. I wish I could see you more often, but I’ve been so busy with school and work.”

“It’s okay, Lilly. We’ll just have to enjoy these times like tonight all the more. Did you see I made your favorite type of tea?”

“Yes! Cinnamon spice. Thank you, grams.”

We talked all night about memories from me growing up, about my grandfather who had passed, about everything under the sun. I could tell she loved having me over as much as I loved being there.

One thing felt odd to me, though: it was freezing in her small house. As we talked, I wondered how she could live like that. Why didn’t she turn on the heat? It was a cold night, and I found myself shivering in the armchair.

“Hey, grams? Are you cold in here?”

“Why, no. Are you? I can turn up the heat if you like.”

“Yes, I’m sorry. It’s just very chilly.”

Grams used her walker to go over to the thermostat and then came back and slowly sat down. I looked at her a little closer – she was getting very old in years.

As she leaned into the light, her appearance even started to frighten me. Her face had a yellowish color to it, and her lips were ashen. Her thin hair also looked greasy and ragged. In a way, she looked like she had one foot in the grave.

I chided myself for thinking these things. Maybe I would look like that if I eventually lived to my late eighties. It was a mean thing to think.

Nevertheless, we had a great time catching up. I told her I had a boyfriend now, a nice boy named Billy, studying to be a registered nurse. I also told her my parents were doing great, and so was my sister, Mary Beth.

“It’s getting late, grams. I should be going.”

She looked sad but understood. “I get so lonely here sometimes, Lilly. But it’s quite alright. Just promise me you’ll come back soon.”

“Yes, yes, of course.”

I kissed her goodbye and went back to campus. I had the strangest dreams that night, and I tossed and turned in bed. My boyfriend was up late studying, and he came in around 1 a.m. to wake me.

“I’ve been trying to call you, Lilly. Wake up,” he said.

“What is it?” I felt terrified for some reason. Probably because of the nightmares.

“I just talked to your sister. It’s about your grandma.”

“Huh? What about her? I just saw her.”

He looked at me quizzically. “Well, that’s pretty weird.”

“Why?” My heart was pounding.

“Your sister said your grandma has been dead for a week. A neighbor went to check on her tonight around 8 o’clock, just before you showed up.”

My head spun, and I felt nauseous. “That’s … not possible. I saw her! I was drinking tea with her. Talking to her. That’s … Huh?”

Billy sat down with me and rubbed my shoulders. I began to cry, and I felt wrapped up in a ball of terrible confusion.

I tried to sort it out in my mind, but it didn’t make sense. Apparently, I’d just had tea with my dead grandma on Halloween night.

The End

(Photo by Brian Wegman 🎃 on Unsplash)

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