Jack Skellington looked up. It had been almost a year since Sally had gone off. With it, … that disgusting thing that crawled up out of the muddy lake shore. She fell in heat with him and they had run off together. No one had heard from her since.
The flood of memories brought a line of tears down Jack's bare cheekbone. He remembered Sally, and the way she used to say that she’d always love him, … and then this.
Halloween was just a day away. The celebration, the ghouls, the goblins, the howling, the spooking. But what good was it? With no one to share it with, why bother? It would be like the year of the Mistake with a capital "M". When he had no one…
Regardless of what Jack was thinking and feeling just then, the Mayor came trouncing up the front steps and rang the doorbell. A telltale scream rang through the house as Jack quickly descended to the door.
"Oh. Hello Mayor," Jack said with just a hint of sadness.
"Jack my boy!" The Mayor proclaimed bouncily as the street musicians looked up from the gate. "As tomorrow is Halloween, and it is getting late, I just came up to see if you were already down at the pumpkin patch. Aren’t you spending the night down there as usual?"
"Yeah, I guess so, just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that…" Jack trailed off. He started toward the pumpkin patch. He went through the cemetery gate, down the hill, and to his bed of straw that he slept on once a year in his scarecrow form. Getting ready for bed, Jack heard a quiet sound, like a whispering sob. He quickly got himself together and went to investigate.
The sound seemed to be coming from a dead willow tree in the least visited corner of the graveyard. Jack went quickly toward it and he tripped over something when he was about three feet from the tree. He looked down.
There! A few leaves had fallen and turned to loam over something gray and hard, making whatever it was almost impossible to see. If you weren’t looking for it, you would never have known it was there. He brushed the leaves away.
It was a tombstone, but different than the upright ones in the cemetery. It lay low on the ground, with a beautiful angel sketched on the top. The nameplate read, "Rey, our ray of moon and starlight."
"Rey?" There was no one in Halloween town named Rey. Jack looked all around for the source of the sound. Then, thinking, he looked up in the bare branches of the tree. Nothing was there.
But was that branch up there quivering??? There was no wind…
The moon came out from behind a cloud and shone its rays on the branches above. Jack simply could NOT believe his eye sockets.
There, on the quivering branch, was a ghost, not just any ghost, but a defined and shapely one. From the back, the ghost had short, spiked-up-in-the-air hair and a long, medieval gown on. Apparently it was feminine.
Crying softly, she stopped and looked over her shoulder. Seeing Jack on the ground staring up at her startled her, and she dove back into the tombstone.
"Wait! I didn’t mean to scare you. … Please come out of there." Jack was afraid he might have frightened her off for good.
To his great surprise, she came out and stood on the stone.
She bowled him over. Never in a million years would Jack have ever imagined that she would come out and speak to him so easily. The tear lines were still present on her cheeks, and unshed tears lurked in her eyes.
"I wanted to ask what was wrong. I’m, uh, Jack, by the way." He stumbled over his words.
"I just … nothing's wrong." She looked down at her hands. But as she was talking, Jack noticed a few things. Two stylish, thin spikes of hair lay over her cheeks and down to her neck’s level in front of the ears. Her eyes were black, as far as he could tell, and she had fangs.
"Are you coming to the Halloween celebration?" Jack felt stupid saying it.
"I don’t think so. … I’d feel so out of place. There’s no other animate ghosts in this world."
Jack realized without asking what a wonderful personality she had. He could read it in her face and her words.
"Well, I hope you come, but I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ll be there tomorrow night, if you decide to come. I’ll keep you company." Jack started towards the pumpkin patch.
He was halfway there when he heard her call. "Jack! I wanted to thank you for making me feel better! I’ll be there!" And with that, she smiled and sank into the ground.
After the ceremonies consisting of fire, ice, screaming, scaring, and other whatnot, Jack fended off the witches and other feminine monsters that were admiring him. Then, when they had all departed to see the prizes awarded, Jack hid in the graveyard.
He was startled by a windy, whispered voice. "I came to see you. The scarecrow-on-fire stunt was amazing."
Jack looked behind him. There she was, radiant
as the stars that illuminated her. Rey…such a perfect name…
"Thank you. Where were you? I didn’t see you in the crowd-" Jack started to say.
"That’s because I wasn’t in the crowd. I was sitting on a rooftop nearby." She smiled. She saw how much he liked her. Not a big surprise. But the strange thing was that she liked him back. Her! The one who swore she would never to love again.
"Oh. I see. Well…" Jack was at a loss for words. In the moonlight, she was beautiful. In a gothic, creepy sort of way.
She hesitated at first. Then, she came forward and hugged that skeleton like there was no tomorrow. It lasted for a whole two minutes, in fact. she was standing there with her arms around him, and he was there with a surprised expression on his face.
After she let go, Jack looked at her. She was beaming. "That was for making me feel better yesterday evening."
They both realized that neither could actually feel the other. It was a sad, happy sort of realization. And both wanted to feel the warmth of someone else around them, the caring sort of warmth. But it was impossible.
In an instant, they were up on the hill. (You know, THAT hill. The one that uncurls.) The sky was filled with white things that were not stars. The snow from Santa Claus started falling, and in moments, the ground was covered in four-inch-deep snow. It was very romantic, up there on that sparkling hill. The snow stopped falling.
And they both leaned in at the same time. Their "lips" connected. And one, very long kiss happened there in the moonlight under the starry sky.
Then, something amazing happened. A beam of moonlight from nowhere shown down upon Jack and Rey. Slowly, Rey was lifted up a few feet into the air. There was a blinding flash of moonlight and starlight together for just an instant. Rey dropped to the ground, but it couldn’t have been Rey, because this figure wasn’t transparent. It made an indentation in the snow when it fell, and Jack could see it clearly.
It stood up. Jack was dumbfounded, because there, in living color, was Rey. She DID have black eyes, but only the pupils and irises. Her hair was jet black with fire-red streaks like tiger stripes through it. Her mouth was wide open in astonishment, because she could SEE HERSELF. She could see the footprints she made as she ran towards Jack. She could feel him as she hugged him furiously, and Jack could feel her.
Her dress was covered in snow, but that didn’t matter.
Jack and Rey kissed again in the starlight and they stayed that way for
a long, long time…