All Saint’s Day

The first ghost slammed into the window. They’d been howling at the gates all night, and it was a spectacular sight. If you liked that sort of thing. Ghosts milling about and all that.

He’d wondered why Mara’d spent half the afternoon lighting the largest candles he had ever seen. There were dozens of them spread in front of the doors of their house. Fat scented beeswax candles, cheap thin ones from the factory in Tondo, huge tapered ones, even the tiny varieties you lit in front of altars as offerings to saints. Her face bore the traces of yesterday’s face paint. Each eye was outlined in glitter and her lipstick had stained her mouth dark gray.

Iri had learned early on not to question his wife, or the things she’d brought from her country. Her altars, her strange habits, the eggs she placed by the feet of her saints when she wanted sunny days. But he couldn’t resist this one.

“If I don’t place the candles, they’ll just knock on the doors all night. It will drive you nuts.”

The ghosts  stared into the house, as solemn as statues. The bolder ones flattened their palms against the glass. Some tried to break it, but couldn’t seem to get through. He’d never seen so many in one place! A Japanese soldier marched by and tried to kick the glass in.

Iri kind of felt his knees give way.

“They get so few chances.” Mara  came up from behind him, gently laid an arm on his shoulder. The match flared and sizzled as she lay it yet another candle on the window sill. In response, the ghost flew back as if he had been burned.

“I always forget the windows.” Mara murmured.

“Yes.” He said. “The windows. How could one forget that?”

Mara laughed. “Don’t worry so much about them. It’s always like this on All Saint’s Day. They’ll always know where to find you, and you can’t help them all.” She kissed the top of his head.

“Now come, help me with dinner.”

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