He cared too much, never learned to express himself, became adept at hiding behind the masque of his thoughts where deeper blood runs while he was weeping, the masque of him laughing. A difficult man to know unless circumstances forced one to do so, a fellow inmate, a sibling, a changeling.
Back in Loreli’s space, Judy sat in the chair by the bed. She found Loreli’s hand under the blanket, willed herself to feel. A sweet little girl voice spoke into her mind, “It’s okay, it’s okay. You go ahead and cry.” Judy felt the small child’s hand, its offer of refuge, flesh on flesh. She gave herself over to it, allowed herself the peace and respite of Loreli’s pillow.
“Hi Baby. How’s Daddy’s special girl?” Judy drifted slowly away as Loreli’s eyes looked upon the kind face of her Father.
“Daddy,” Loreli said sleepily, “I got a angel.”
Judy exited the room. She passed through the wall, not even thinking about it. The thwop thing was there but seemed less intense now. The terrible sadness and loss she felt last night seemed to be fading as well. Frantic to recapture the moment, Judy went to her old room. It was vacant and antiseptic clean.
The chair had been moved back next to the bed. Judy sat in it and was welcomed like a long lost friend. She went away to a realm of mists. Shadow shapes passed at the edge of her vision. ‘They’re getting ready for me,’ Judy thought. ‘They know today is; what is today?’ She faded away mercifully into a land of smoke and didn’t come out until…
“I figgered I might find ya here.”
“Where am I?”
“Yer where I metcha.”
“Those people, shapes in the fog.”
“Yer bound an’ determined to go there. I keep tellin’ ya, they ain’ ready for ya jus’ yet. If they was, you’d a-been gone.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Yer s’posed to come with me. We got us a date, remember?”
“Henry, can you help me out of here?”
Thwop! Judy peered through the tenth floor window. There they were, the twinkling lights. They used to mean something to her. What was it? She was desperate to remember.
Henry touched her hand. “C’mon, it’s time for the party. That l’il girl even woke up.”
“Take me then,” Judy said simply.
“Jus’ what I wanna hear from my date,” Henry said happily. Judy had no time for a reply as Henry whisked her away to another world, Henry’s world.
The room was indefinite in shape. Skeletons danced on a strobe-lit platform. Shrill voices cackled invitations from dark doorways. Judy pulled her hand back in alarm as something reached brushed it. Henry stood next to her, though you would never guess his identity by looking at him. He was some kind of bat creature. The long nails on his paws were what had touched her hand. “Is this the Children’s Room?” Judy asked fearfully.
“Darn tootin’ fig newton!” Henry replied. He hopped into the air and took flight. ‘Round and ’round Judy’s head he flew.
“How did you talk the hospital into going along with this?” Judy asked.
Henry shrunk himself to bat-size and lit on her shoulder. “I’m gonna tell ya once an’ that’s it!” he squeaked into her ear. “This is my Halloween place. It’s like my inbetweener’s playground. I gotta set it up to fit somewheres real, then push myself hard to make it happen.
Costumed children were raking leaves into a huge pile while others dove in and allowed themselves to be covered up. “Careful there!” Henry squeaked. “We’re gonna light that pile on fire perty soon now. We don’ want no baked ghouls or boys.”
“This is going to be one big mess to clean up,” Judy observed. “You aren’t really going to burn those leaves in here, are you?”
Henry flitted about a bit. “I jus’ toldja, we ain’ ‘in here’. All the l’il sick kids is in their beds jus’ like they’re s’pose to be. Now c’mon, les’ go bob for glizzards. Henry flew off in the direction of the children. Leaves and cornhusks flew up in the path of his wake. The happy music of laughing children was everywhere, incongruous with the shrieking voices emanating from the dark.
Judy glanced down at her hand and was shocked. Her fingers were impossibly long, skin white, and had long black pointy fingernails. She held the hand up in front of her face and clicked the nails against each other. This wasn’t stage makeup. The nails were black through and through. She looked into a wall of glass or sheet of water, she wasn’t sure which. “Oh no,” she murmured to herself. “He’s turned me into Elvira.”
A small hand tugged at her dress. “Will you go wif me to the costume contest?”
Judy looked down into the face of a perfect fairy, pointy ears, wings and all. “Don’t be afraid honey,” she crooned. “My name is Judy. I sat with you last night.”
The fairy fluttered her wings, looked away, embarrassed. “I know. That’s why I want you to go wif me. I don’t wanna lose you no more.”
“Oh Loreli,” Judy cried, “You sweet, sweet, little girl. I don’t wanna lose you no more either. Would you mind if I held you?”
The tiny fairy danced into the air and landed in Judy’s welcome embrace. She threw her arms around Judy’s neck and whispered in her ear. “Don’t say my name so loud. Everyone will know who I am if you say it loud.”
Judy ran her fingers down the length of Loreli’s long beautiful hair. “I won’t,” she promised. “Let’s go find that costume contest.”