The Old Man’s Pumpkin

On the eve of Halloween, otherwise known as The Night of Mischief, Steve was rummaging around his pumpkin patch. He examined each orange orb, carefully trying to find the plumpest one for his beloved hobby of pumpkin carving. His wrinkled hands and gnarled knuckles tapped each shell with a workman’s care. Steve fancied he saw a good specimen in one of the un-trodden corners. He approached, and was disappointed to find that it was actually quite small. There was, however, an enticing glow of healthiness about it. Steve shrugged, plucked it and carried it into his lonesome cottage.

Alone in his dark-wood study, Steve carved the pumpkin into one of his smiling masterpieces by the light of a sole reading lamp. He held it up to the light and nodded approval, the corners of his mouth twisting downward. Steve snapped his fingers as he remembered the last ingredient. The grandfather clock ticked closer to midnight as Steve fetched a candle from the pantry and lowered it into the Jack O’ Lantern. He lowered a lit match to the wick just as the grandfather chimed midnight, and the beginning of Halloween. The old man jumped back in surprise as the lifeless face grew animated and the glowing mouth broadened its grin. The pumpkin was alive! What is more, it began to speak to Steve, a crackling, warm voice, as though they had been friend for ages. Steve brought the pumpkin into the kitchen and they talked happily all through Steve’s dinner. Not one soul came to Steve’s remote house for candy for the entirety of Halloween, but Steve didn’t mind because he had a shining new friend.

Halloween day ran its course, and when Steve awoke the next morning, the Jack O’ Lantern was silent, dead. Steve tapped its shell and told his friend to have sweet dreams. Each Halloween for the rest of Steve’s waning life, the pumpkin would wake up and shed light on the darkness of Steve’s loneliness.

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