When my twin brother and I were five years old, Halloween was still unknown in Sweden. October days were designed to be gray, dull, and devoid of exciting adventures.

But one evening we were in for a surprise. When we approached the street’s vacant lot, we heard some bigger and braver boys screaming. They were collecting swearwords, insults, and provocations, which they catapulted across a high fence. The offenses were aimed at an older man who was doing his best to defend his honor by promising the boys a good beating as soon as he got a chance. Anger had colored his face dark red.

Like two shy fawns, my brother and I ventured closer. Children who dared to challenge adult authority were an unknown continent to us.

Unfortunately, the thrilling entertainment didn’t last long. The man unexpectedly turned around and entered his house. The regular October grayness was back.

But suddenly, a scream was heard and a boy pointed towards the street corner. The angry man had rounded the block and was now approaching us like a threatening thundercloud.

Only two of the boys reacted with fear and started running: the two innocent, timid fawns. As a predator, the man caught on to the scent of fear, ran past the crowd of impertinent boys, and came after us.

Inside the apartment building, my brother chose our home in search for cover, while I headed for the place I most feared: the dungeon-like, dark basement. Without turning on the lights, I ran to the furthermost part where I squeezed myself in behind a cement wall.

After a short respite, I heard two men coming downstairs: the wicked man, but also my father! As their voices came closer, I held my breath, fearing that the intense beating of my heart would reveal me, and that a hairy butcher’s arm would find me and finish me off.

But just before that happened, the two men turned around and left. The danger was over and I could start breathing again.

With fear, loneliness, and darkness as my childhood trinity, who needed Halloween?

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Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
11 months ago

A powerful, true story, Christer. While the rest of us were pretending to be scared, you and your brother were actually terrified. Well written with some memorable, very descriptive phrases: swearwords, insults and provocations being “catapulted” across the high fence. Children who dared challenge adult authority “were an unknown continent” to us. Very nice. Especially nice is the description of the boys as innocent, shy fawns. Those of us who have seen the childhood picture of you and your siblings can especially appreciate this story. Good work!

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
11 months ago

A very nice and short story. Although not very scary, it has some subtle traces of fear. I love your style of description. You talked about two men coming down the stairs, referring to the wicked one as your father. Was your father wicked? Was he also a butcher?

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
10 months ago

A terrifying experience that must have haunted you and your brother long after the regular gray October days returned. Very well written, I felt like I was there and I agree with Fuji, your descriptive phrases are very memorable. You’ve reminded me of a couple of nightmarish events in my childhood with my brother, not as scary as yours but they did haunt me for a long time. Perhaps stories for another day. Well done, Christer!

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
10 months ago

Hi Christer
The story is poignant and profound and caused me to remember my own childhood.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
10 months ago

I felt so sorry for the little boy, scared and alone in the basement. Having to face one fear as being the lesser of two evils is something I’m also familiar with. Nicely paced and well written. Good job.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
10 months ago

A truly poignant, powerful memory captured through the innocent being of a five year old. You must have been terrified! How unfair that you felt the need to run and hide, yet you had done no wrong! Christer, you captured the trauma and fear of your young self beautifully.
I believe traumatic events stay with us for a long time, perhaps shaping us and altering our destiny.
Brilliant closing line!

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Lydia Wist
Lydia Wist(@lydia-wist1)
10 months ago

The title alone stands out. I come from the UK where Halloween attitudes are similar to Sweden – it just isn’t, or wasn’t, celebrated in the same way as the US. It was interesting to read a true story and I’ll be thinking about what happened long afterwards.

Last edited 10 months ago by Lydia Wist
Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
10 months ago

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart(@melissa-taggart)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
10 months ago

Yes Christer, to your questions. “The boys” is said a lot, or “they” and “the twins”. My favourite happens to be when folks inquire if they are twins, or not. They are the same height, hair color and facial features! I always feel that to be a silly question, but I answer anyway!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
10 months ago

This story is really so poignant, Christer. I could feel every emotion of the children. At a young age, terrified and alone in the basement. I can’t imagine the faces and the fear that the child feels. It would have caused some trauma as they grew up. If I were that young child, I think I could pee in my briefs in fear. It is well-written Christer. Good job.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
10 months ago

You’re welcome, Christer.

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