You lead the way deeper into the party area, keeping Sheryl close by. All around are the sounds of cackling witches and screaming ghouls, playing over a few speakers set up at key positions. The two of you wade past plastic skeletons, half-filled buckets with floating apples inside, and large displays of horror books. It’s as your passing one of these book displays that you see movement, but it’s too late. A pair of black gloves reach out and grab both you and Sheryl.
“Gotcha! Okay you two, go sit in the reading nook until the game is over.” The black gloved person, an older woman wearing a Frankenstein costume, releases her grip on you both.
“Sorry… what?” You are as eloquent as always.
“Those are the rules for the Annual Hide and Seek Tournament,” Frankenwoman explains. “Don’t worry, there are snacks and games set up, so you won’t be bored while we find everyone else. Usually they all go hide in the second floor stacks anyway.”
Laughter bubbles up from your lips as your entire nervous system floods with relief. Next to you, Sheryl is making a similar noise. You meet her gaze, and then notice that during the scare your hands intertwined. Both of you linger on that for several moments, yet neither makes a move the break the grip as you head toward the reading nook.
Five years later, although not to the exact day, the two of you hold hands once more as you stand at the altar, professing your vows to one another. Sixty years after that, she holds your hand at your bedside during the final hours. It’s a time that should be scary, knowing your end is near, but all you really feel is thankful. If not for that crazy shock that triggered what you’ve convinced yourself was a wild delusion all those years ago, you may have never met your wonderful wife, or have been surrounded by your children and grandchildren as your last breaths draw near. This was a good life, and you have no regrets as you face the end. Well… maybe some part of you wishes you understood what those odd memories were about, but that was a fancy of youth that’s long since lost its importance.
You’re beginning to fall asleep, and somehow you know you won’t be waking up again. Just before you slip off, you feel Sheryl’s lips against yours, one final kiss for the journey onward. All things considered, this is one of the best ways you could ever hope to meet a…