Everyone loved Miss Tizzle’s house at Halloween. The whole town dressed their homes of course, with amber pumpkins glowing gently and perhaps a cobweb here and there, but Miss Tizzle’s was something special. On the week leading up to the 31st, figures would begin to appear in her front garden. Ethereal ghosts that were barely there, fluttered gently in the wind. As night fell, they glowed eerily, making them even more life like. This was of course a peculiar way to describe beings from the after life but it was what made Miss Tizzle’s house so special.
Spooky figures in many guises drew the children of the town in. The werewolf, clad in ripped jeans and checked shirt was, if a little cliched, so life like its eyes were glazed with a crazed and desperate stare. The children claimed if you were close enough you could almost smell it, whatever a werewolf actually smelled of because really, who had ever gotten close enough to a real werewolf and lived to tell the tale?
The vampire, who had been there for as long as anyone could remember, was tall and bony with skin so translucent that you could almost see his veins. Like a pantomime villain from their grandparents days, he was dressed in an old fashioned black cloak with a bow tie fixed around his scrawny neck. His teeth were fixed in a devilish grimace, showing his gleaming white fangs off to perfection.
Dozens of figures appeared as the days went by. The Clown, The Zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster, all deceptively real and equally creepy. Every year they materialised for Halloween and sometimes, if you were very lucky, Miss Tizzle would dream up a new grizzly figure. Like The Witch…she made her debut two years ago. Some children swore that if you listened very quietly you could hear them moaning. A very opinionated boy told anyone who would listen that he saw The Zombie move once. How Miss Tizzle made it all happen was a mystery to everyone but however she did it, it really was the best Halloween display in the whole town.
By night fall on Halloween, Miss Tizzle’s house was ready. The children had raced home from school, all excited to go out, dressed in their finest costumes. From house to house they would go, meeting friends on the way, discussing which house was giving away the best fudge, was Mr Jones giving out his famous sherbet that was so sour and fizzy it actually made your eyes water, who was trying to slip nutritious raisins into their overflowing treat bags and most importantly who had already been to Miss Tizzle’s house…and while all this activity took place, Miss Tizzle was preparing for her favourite night of the year.
Miss Tizzle pottered about her neat and tidy house. It was a small but chunky white cottage with a thatched brown roof. To anyone who took the time to look, they would’ve seen that it looked just like Miss Tizzle. Her brown frizzy hair did indeed resemble the thatch on the roof and she had a round, comfortable body that wobbled rather than walked. Inside, the cottage was furnished in chintz and lace, with a heady aroma of lavender. Miss Tizzle loved lavender, so calming and soothing to the spirit.
As the children raced around town determined to leave her house until last like some grand finale, she was preparing her special punch in the kitchen. She had been making it for so many years now she was sure she could have done it with her eyes closed. She certainly didn’t need to refer to the faded recipe, barely legible in the old cloth book, passed down to her from her grandmother. No one else knew about her punch, well hardly anyone, but they would never tell. She stirred it carefully in her big copper pan and thought with pleasure about who she might share her secret with this year. It was always a last minute decision, never knowing who may turn up to see her display. A shiver of anticipation fizzled up her spine at the thought of the fun still to come.
The sweet and sickly brew had been simmering away for the required ten minutes by this time so Miss Tizzle carefully removed it from the flame and moved to the kitchen table. Slowly and with a steady hand that defied her increasing years, she poured the punch in to the waiting bowl and carried it through to the living room, placing it with the matching cup. Then, just as she knew she would, she heard voices coming whispering along the cobbled street where her stout cottage stood proudly. She quickly moved into position behind the rose embroidered curtains and there, just as she moved out of sight she saw them. Her heart starting racing as she watched the children, gazing in wonder at the creepy tableau. She heard someone say ‘shhh, listen, can you hear the groaning, how does she do it?’ She smiled. She saw Bobby Sawyer, dressed just like her vampire. Sally Briggs, as she suspected she would, had done a fine job of replicating her witch. That annoying boy Arthur Simons had come as her zombie. She knew she shouldn’t have favourites but she really hadn’t wanted him to copy one of her creations. Oh well, another year maybe.
She stood hidden from view for what felt like minutes but she knew must have been closer to two hours. It was always the same, waiting all year for this one night and then it went by so quickly. She hadn’t found anyone yet to share her special punch with and she knew that time was running out. There had been some excellent costumes go past her garden but none that had caught her eye. Someone must surely have some imagination…and then, as the last of the children headed for home, the thought of sweet treats now uppermost in their minds, she saw a solitary figure standing at the gate that led from her garden to her front door. It was obscured by the Clown so she couldn’t quite make out who it was. She moved ever so slightly from her hiding place. She heard moaning and knew she would have to do something now before they got too restless. She peered out again and her heart leapt. Joy of joys, it was a scarecrow. Little Francis Flint, if she wasn’t mistaken. A scarecrow, how wonderful. She didn’t have a scarecrow. She went to the front door and opening it she gestured with one gnarled hand sweetly to Francis, the punch cup in the other hand, steaming gently with her special brew…’Welcome to Miss Tizzle’s my dear’.