I knew my teacher hated me; my suspicions confirmed when she assigned me to Crazy Daisy for our social studies project.
We were to help older people in the community with gardening and odd jobs. Daisy lived at the end of my street in a cottage with an extensive garden; once beautiful but now overgrown and eerie. Most people thought she was a witch.
When I arrived for my first visit, Crazy Daisy opened the door looking as apprehensive as I felt. She suggested coffee and when she went to the kitchen I inspected the lounge room. Old style sofa, matching chairs, lamp and a sideboard piled high with sweets and chocolates.
Daisy returned and found me inspecting them.
“You eat lots of chocolate,” I said, taking the coffee.
“No,” she replied. “I always get them for Halloween, but no one ever comes.”
Tears welled in her eyes before she turned away.
My cheeks burned. We’d always avoided her house at Halloween, but every year she’d been waiting and hoping…
Over coffee, Daisy told me her husband, Bobby, didn’t come home from World War II. Her dreams of a family stolen by a sniper’s bullet. She couldn’t love anyone else after Bobby but always hoped neighbourhood children would come on Halloween.
“I’m sure they will this year,” I told her, and this time her eyes shone with joy.
Only three days until Halloween. I came back the next day, and the next. My dad joined me, pruning, weeding and mowing until the garden ceased to be a jungle. I trimmed the rose bush at the front gate; Daisy said Bobby planted it before he left but it had never flowered.
On Halloween night I declined to Trick or Treat with my friends. Instead I helped Daisy put a table loaded with treats on the verandah and in the centre a huge pumpkin we carved together.
Children came, my friends came, and as we stood together on the steps a glowing Daisy gasped and pointed to the gate.
At the top of Bobby’s rose bush, one tiny bud bloomed.