Authors note: This is my Halloween contest entry. It is not spooky or scary or a typical Halloween story in anyway. I will admit it's a little poignant and sad but I hope you enjoy it regardless. Thank you again to RK Moreland for helping with the copy editing, and BrambleThorn whose wisdom really helped when I became bit lost. You are both much appreciated.
Joel walked down the dock breathing in the stale scents of the city and stopped on the side of the road before him. He had been away a full six months this time and Cecilia waited on the curb for him. He shook his head and turned to walk in the opposite direction.
"Joel, stop," Cecilia sounded panicked. "Please."
He stopped and turned to look at the seemingly frail woman he knew so well, noting the less than polished appearance as she stood on the sidewalk staring at him. For the last six months he had been at sea and standing before him when he took his first breath on dry land was one half of the reason he took the longer than usual job.
"No, Cilly, I'm done." He kept walking without looking back. He heard her high-heeled shoes clacking on the footpath as she hurried after him.
"When I heard you were coming back in time for Halloween... I thought..." Cecilia seemed uncertain. "Come back to Rainbird with me, say goodbye to her properly, please Joel, I loved her too."
"I already said my goodbye's; it's been over eight months, what do you expect will happen? Her spirit will materialise and float down and dance with the butterflies?" Joel turned to look at her his voice hard and callous.
"No... I don't know, maybe," She sighed, "Come home with me Joel, please. Come to Rainbird."
"I can't," Joel looked at her properly and found his heart still ached for her, even after all the betrayals. He noted the shadows under her eyes, barely concealed by the makeup she wore. She had lost a lot of weight and her usually glossy black hair seemed dull in comparison to his memories of her. "There is something else going on isn't there?" Joel looked into her dark brown eyes seeing the lie as she spoke lightly.
"No," Cecilia said too rapidly in reply and heard the defensiveness in her own voice. "I have invited some family and friends as well." She admitted, "It will be like a reunion."
"You're hosting Halloween?" Joel looked at her incredulously.
"Not quite, but sort of. I will explain it, at the right time. Here," she thrust an invitation out at him. "I don't want to stand here and argue with you anymore." She could feel her energy waning and walked with purpose back to the waiting car, trying not to let her fatigue show.
Joel watched her go before looking at the invitation in his hands and groaning. "A Halloween party," he laughed. "Great, that's just great." Shoving it deep into the pocket of his bag he walked back to his harbour side apartment.
Cecilia hadn't contacted him again directly, instead she sent their friends to do her dirty work. For his part Joel had been resolute in his determination not to return to their family home. It wasn't a home for him without his mother there. This Halloween celebration had always been his mother's thing, he couldn't bear to have it distorted by Cecilia.
Three days before the party his oldest friend arrived, banging on his door late in the evening with a bottle of tequila in one hand and a six pack of Corona's in the other. "Sure hope you got limes," he said by way of greeting.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Joel looked confused.
"Heard you were back, so decided to accept the invitation I got to Cilly's shindig. Do you think we have to wear costumes?" he laughed.
"I wouldn't worry, you could be a body double for Frankenstein any day," Joel shrugged.
"Oh ho ho, in fine form already I see," Rod bit back, "I thought you wouldn't be so grumpy since Cilly got the all clear. I talked to her a few weeks ago and it sounded like the treatment was really knocking her around. It must have been rough after your mother and everything."
Joel stared at his friend, his mouth agape as the words sunk in, "Cilly, what?"
"Oh shit I thought you knew, you guys were so tight," Rod realised there was no going back, he had said too much. "Well it's over now anyway, they took out the lump, got it all and she only had radiation as a precautionary measure."
Joel felt sick; he sagged back onto the couch and remembered the way she looked when she had met his boat. Rod handed him a shot of tequila and a Corona looking worried, "Listen mate, I'm sorry, I didn't realise. I mean I can understand why she didn't tell you at the time but geez."
"I need a few minutes, just give me a minute to think," Joel's mind raced back in time and he felt the hot sting of tears well up in his eyes.
Warren Teasdale had met his new wife, Miriam, when she had been on holiday from Philadelphia and was visiting the resort town of Port Douglas. He was there attending a golf tournament. Both widowed several years earlier they had always said it was like one of those magical moments when their eyes met across a crowded room and they just knew it was love. With Miriam had come her son Joel, who was of a similar age to Warren's own daughter, Cecilia. It all seemed so perfect but life in far north Queensland was very different from the life Miriam and Joel had led in America.
It was not that Miriam minded that much. She was blissfully happy really, it was the holidays that got her down at times and usually during the winter break at school she would take Joel back to visit their relatives for the fourth of July celebrations and usually include Cecilia in the trip. Halloween though was her favourite of the holidays and she was shocked and disappointed to find that they didn't celebrate it in Australia aside of a few tacky decorations if they remembered in a local pub. She had been determined to change that though and began throwing amazing parties each Halloween for their friends and neighbours, as well as bringing the children and several of their friends home for the long weekend.
Joel and Cecilia had been little more than kids when they first met, his mother dating and eventually marrying her father. Living on a remote sugarcane plantation in the northern parts of Queensland meant they spent most of their adolescence at boarding schools only really seeing each other for small bursts on holidays and vacation times. They lived privileged lives; the wealthy plantation owner sparing no expense for his new family. They were close as children in the same family might be but it had always been more of a transient friendship between them than any sort of familial bond.
It wasn't until they both attended, the same university that they actually got to know each other well, too well it seemed. Having different surnames no one knew of their relationship and they both liked it that way. They had shared a small apartment close to the university as friends and roommates and rapidly found an attraction that neither of them could deny any longer. They reasoned over a few bottles of wine one night that they weren't really brother and sister so there was no harm in seeing where it went. It was late when they made this momentous decision and he stood pulling her up beside him to kiss her.
"You can choose, your room or mine," he gave her a devilish grin and strode off toward the bathroom looking over his shoulder at her. He took the extra time to brush his teeth and returned to find her in his bed. He could see she was naked despite the sheet she held covering her body as both her breasts rose unfettered beneath the thin cotton, her pointed nipples begging for attention, and that was just what he planned to give them.
He slipped back into bed and turned towards her. He let his fingers caress those monumental globes and then lowered his mouth and explored a nipple with his tongue, giving them both the attention they so deserved. Cecilia practically purred at the sensations he gave her. She wanted to feel his touch all over her body. She felt so hot that she could have been melting beneath his hands.
His hands worked their way down her body caressing and tickling her as he went. He looked up at her and saw that she was glassy eyed and breathless and smiled knowingly. That smile just did her in, she could think of nothing else but the sensations that Joel was bringing to her. He pulled back the sheet exposing her body. She self-consciously squirmed as he did this wondering how he saw her through his dark eyes when she lay completely naked before him.
"Wow," Joel breathed. Her breasts were firm and her body was perfect. She had a small patch of dark hair on her pussy and her legs seemed to stretch out forever.
"Don't stop," she begged. "I think I need this, you, so badly."
He slipped his arm around her and brought her face level with his then took her lips in a sweet sensuous kiss, one like she had never experienced before with any man, not that there had been many. He slid his hands down to her most vulnerable place and gently inserted his finger into her. She released a hoarse cry as she pushed her lower body into his hand, and she collapsed against him, relishing the unbelievable sensations he gave her as he stroked against her clit and the front wall of her cunt. Joel immediately moved down her body and with a slow sensuous tongue movement proceeded to taste the exotic flavours that were distinctly Cecilia. She writhed above him as she keened and arched up off the bed in a shattering climax that bathed his hand and face. She began to calm down and Joel slowly lay back on the bed and held her close within his arms. He looked so wonderful to her.
"My turn," she said softly.
Holding his hands down by his sides she began to kiss him, her eager mouth moving over his face and lips tasting her own juices. She kissed down to his chest and nipples, giving them a little nip as she went. She continued to taste and nip at him all the way down his warm, sweaty body. She loved his skin; it was the colour of caramel and so smooth if slightly damp. His body was muscled and pulsed beneath her lips. As she continued her journey downwards towards his navel and groin, she felt the heat of his cock rub against her. Leaning right down she placed her mouth over the bulbous head of his cock and slowly sucked it between her lips, filling her mouth slowly.
Cecilia relished the sounds Joel made as she teased and sucked at his cock and for her it was over all too soon as with a loud groan he pulled her head up and dragged her up his body. He turned her over onto her back and hovered above her momentarily before lowering his head to kiss her as he slowly pushed his cock into her warm wet hole. It was like entering the world of wonder he had been waiting for, for a long time, he never knew being with Cecilia would feel this good. Cecilia raised her body to meet his movements and they plunged into a rhythm of thrusts, meeting and receding together, the waves of desire washing over them. His hands caught her hips and he drove into her deeply. Then he was lost. He called out her name and she followed, both shaking with the force of an earth shattering climax.
Joel gathered her in his arms and held her tightly, promising to never let her go. Cecilia in turn promised to never be parted from him. In Joel's mind their relationship was never as good as it was that first night that they had finally acted on their feelings for each other.
Their affair was stormy and fraught with on again, off again, fights and bouts of passion as they each fought the idea that they were somehow related in their own way. In their second year of university Cecilia's father had died suddenly in a machinery accident on the plantation and they had returned home to Rainbird and Miriam. The crisis had brought them even closer but they hid their relationship from the close knit community of their home town and remaining family.
Cecilia had chosen not to return to university with Joel when he went back to sit his exams. She reasoned she had already been struggling when her father had met his untimely death and that deferring the current semester would be the better option. He had been furious with her at the time and returned on his own severing the connection between them. He didn't return home at the end of semester break and she did not return to university the following semester. The distance between them grew.
It wasn't until Joel came home at the end of September for Halloween that they spoke again. She was dating a local man and Joel bristled with jealousy. For his mother's benefit he remained calm and avoided the tempestuous fights that plagued his relationship with Cecilia. Each year on Halloween, his mother, held this party and demanded his return. He had to admit he enjoyed it and the quirky twists she had added to make it as much an Australian holiday as an American celebration.
She had found that the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land held a ceremony to wish the spirits of those who had died that year well on their journey to the island where the spirits dwelt. It didn't matter to her that they lived over three thousand miles from Arnhem Land as she fell in love with the story and decided to incorporate it as a way to conclude her now famous Halloween parties.
The dreamtime legend said that each evening the morning star, Bunimbirr, would be brought to the main camp of the spirit people in a special dilly bag. They would then begin to dance and sing, singing all of the songs of where the star would travel and what it would see. As they danced they would kick up the dust bringing dusk and then darkness. All through the night they would continue their celebration until just before dawn when the moon had gone but before the sun had risen. Then the spirit guide, who held the dilly bag, would release Bunimbirr.
Freed Bunimbirr first rested in the top of a tall tree, on the island near the spirit dancing ground, and then it would fly westward as if it was let out on a feathered string. When it came to a place of spirit it rested in the top of special trees. Just before the sun rose the spirit guide pulled back on the string to bring the star back to the island of the dead, where it would be safely put away in the dilly bag for another such day. Dead people's spirits in the form of butterflies, flying foxes, grasshoppers and praying mantis were said to follow the star and its feathered string back to the island of the dead.
In embracing the culture of her new home, each year a huge glittering star would be hoisted to the top of a tall eucalypt close to the house and in the brief moment between night and the next day the family and friends gathered would watch the insects come to life as if by magic and fly away with the spirits of dead. The Halloween after Warren's death felt different to them though; it was close to home and personal this time and the preparations for it had been painstaking.
That twilight dawn as they sat in the brief moment of darkness between night and day, Joel saw Cecilia's wet face search the landscape for butterflies, her father had promised her butterflies. Then he saw it, the small flutter of wings as a lone butterfly with bright blue glinting off its wings swept around the tree and headed for Cecilia. She reached out her hand sucking her bottom teeth over her top lip and the small creature landed momentarily before taking off once again to fly around Miriam, Joel's mother, and on into the sunrise.
Both appalled and amazed, Joel stood beside his mother and put an arm around her shoulders. Cecilia came to stand on her other side and the three stood motionless as the first pale light of dawn touched the horizon. In the days following Halloween and the ceremony Joel had tried to convince Cecilia to return to the city with him but she had been resolute in her decision not to go. Their fights had been loud and brutal and he had left angry and bitter.
Cecilia never returned to university; instead taking up a role on the planation that had been her father's life work and Joel began to make excuses why he couldn't return home. After university he had moved closer though, buying a small apartment in the coastal town of Cairns where he could work and still see his mother more often.
It was here in this apartment that they had renewed their affair. Falling in love and lust again and building an even closer bond than before. Joel worked for the Marine Parks and Wildlife Department, monitoring the reef and the impact of tourists and deep sea fishing charters and could be gone to sea for long stretches of time. Each time he returned though she would be there waiting on the dock for him, running and jumping into his arms as if he had been gone for years rather than weeks.
His mother had become sick the following year. He had been devastated to find that the mastectomy and chemotherapy were not combatting the breast cancer and took a leave of absence from work to spend what time she had left at Rainbird. It was at that time, when Joel needed Cecilia most that she had withdrawn from him. She had left to go to the city without a word of warning. No reasons, no mention of how long she would be gone, she had just packed her things and after a long tearful talk with his mother had gotten in her car and driven away.
She came back pale and wan looking for the funeral two months later. He had thought it was her grief and guilt that made her look so unwell. He had been angry and refused to acknowledge her in anyway. Ignoring anything she said to him, he had brutally and physically turned his back on her. He had left for two weeks at sea the next day. The two weeks had turned into six months as he found any reason not to return to the mainland.
Joel roused himself from his memories. Rod had sat close by not saying anything, giving him his few minutes to digest the news and waiting for the explosion from the short-tempered man. It wasn't that he was always short tempered. It seemed to be that Cecilia brought it out in him more often than most.
"She should have fucking told me!" Joel finally exploded.
"And when should she have done that? When she found out she had a lump? Your mother was dying of the same thing, for fuck's sake. She couldn't have told you at funeral or before it. Then you left, and it seems decided to throw your phone away at the same time," Rod said calmly, stating the facts.
"You always took her side, how is it you know so fucking much?" Joel stood and walked to the window facing the rainforest covered hills surrounding his town.
"I asked her how she was, at the funeral, when she was so pale," Rod explained. "Joel come on, you can't be mad at her for this. You're the one that shut her out, shut all of us out when Miriam died. I only took her side of things when you weren't making sense, mate," Rod cracked a smile, "True, that's most of the time I suppose, but it's beside the point." His chuckle was loud as Joel turned and glared at him. "C'mon Joel, it's time to put things right again, I didn't fly for fuckin' hours to be listenin' to your hard-done-by bullshit. Have a cup of cement and harden up already."
"Well aren't you a friggin' font of wisdom tonight," Joel let out a snort of derision but came to back to sit and pour himself another shot of tequila.
"Too fuckin' right. Get a few more tequila's into me and I will have formulated the plan for peace in the Middle-East," he chuckled loudly again, "Best I can do at this point is build a bridge type stuff and I think they already tried that." He looked thoughtful for a moment and Joel burst out laughing.
They became more raucous with the more alcohol they drank and it was with bleary eyes that Joel grudgingly got out of bed the next morning. He took a shower and packed a small duffle bag. He knew Rod was right about it being time to make things right but it didn't make it any easier to have to admit he was a complete bastard.