This brief scene came from something that happened long ago. I was with three friends (two girls and another boy; we were all 17/18) at one of those Haunted Houses you pay to go through on Halloween. It wasn’t quite a date… just four friends, but I liked one girl. So, I made sure to be behind her as we went through… hoping she’d need a strong arm to get through the frights. ? Well, about halfway through, it happened. She looked over her shoulder, eyes wide in the strobe lights, grabbed for my hand, and missed. She realized it and, with an embarrassed laugh, tried again and hooked my arm, bringing me forward beside her. I was never so happy to be scared.
I was prepared. Then the flashlight died, leaving us in pitch black. “Shit.” I shook it but got only a feeble flicker, then nothing. “Shit….”
I heard the shifting, scuffling sound that comes from the depth of a woman’s purse when stirring its contents, searching. She took something out of a bag big enough to stick a frying pan in.
“I was ready, just in case,” she said.
“More batteries?” I hoped.
“No. I thought this’d be cool….” She lighted the candle. The flare of its dancing flame revealed shadowed cleavage… and the nearest part of a narrow hallway leading deeper into the abandoned house. The floor ahead showed boards missing at odd intervals, leaving darker patches. A scattering of dust floated from the ceiling into the arc of the candle’s glimmer.
She was slightly ahead of me, and I called to her. “I can’t see; you’re blocking the light. Take my hand.”
She stopped as a low moan rolled through the house. The boards beneath our feet shivered and undulated, a low rise tilting us toward darkness. Her hand shot back to grip me hard. “Mmmph….” I grunted. “That’s not my hand.”
“It takes three dates before you get to do that.” I lied.
“I said sorry,” she said. “We can turn back….” Her eyes locked on mine.
I looked around. The candle cast capering shadows on the stained wall. The flame’s glow showed the curve of her smile as the house stilled around us. “Sounds good to me.” We turned and retraced our steps to the front door. She still held my arm, pressed tight against her. As we stepped outside… behind me, I heard the house chuckle. I grinned.