No one ever saw the couple that lived in the old house at the end of the street, but every year they put out an amazing Halloween display. And they gave out the best candy. Despite all the effort they put into decorating, though, they always wore the same costumes: just simple white sheets over their heads to be basic ghosts. Everything else about their would-be haunted house was perfect, so no held the rather uninspired costumes against them. Indeed, the house was the highlight of the holiday.
This year had been no different. Jack-O-Lanterns were displayed in every downstairs window. Ghosts and demons – incredibly life-like – peered out of upstairs windows. The porch was covered in cobwebs, and the lawn was covered in a mist, allowing only hints of the beasts that seemed to roam the yard.
Inside, however, the spirit of the season was rather absent.
“I hate this time of year,” he complained. “All this work, and for what?”
“You know very well for what,” she chided. “People appreciate the house. Doing this pacifies them into leaving us alone the rest of the year. Do you want people coming by all the time?”
“No!” The terror is his voice was obvious. “That would be worse.”
“Exactly. This gives us the peace and quiet we enjoy the rest of the time.”
“But the kids frighten me.”
“I know. Still, one night a year is better than the alternative. You can manage.”
Just then, the doorbell rang.
“You don’t have to say anything. Just put on your sheet…”
“I know, I know.”
He stood up from the chair, walked over to the door, and grabbed the sheet from the coat rack. He threw it over his head before opening the door and placing candy in each child’s bag. Just the sight of them scared him, and he barely heard their thanks. He replaced the sheet and slumped back down into the chair.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“It was horrible. You didn’t see them.”
She sighed but said nothing more. He would be disagreeable all night, just like every year.
The doorbell rang again.
“I can get this one,” she offered.
He waved her down. “No, you’ve already done so much. I’ll get it.”
Picking pieces out of the bowl near the door, he opened it find another group. As he went to place the candy in their bags, one of them let out a scream of terror. They all ran from the house.
The sudden shriek made his blood freeze, and he slammed the door closed. He wanted to run and hide.
She came into the entry way from the living room. “What was that?”
Trembling, he managed to say, “I don’t know. They screamed and ran. I told you I hate this. We never decorated and gave out candy while we were…”
“You didn’t put on your sheet.”
“You forgot your sheet. All they saw was floating candy. Of course they got scared.”
He looked down and realized she was right.
“Don’t worry. They probably just thought it was a trick. I’m sure no one will think there are actual ghosts here.”
“What if they do?”
“They won’t. Just be sure to wear the sheet next time.”