Entry One: Treat Time!
Opal Tenmore had never been much of a one for "participating". Oh, Halloween had been an event her peers got excited about, growing up. But after a few years, Opal had largely drifted away. Banging on doors begging for candy ceased to appeal after due time, and Opal was never much of one for parties and games. She had attempted going to a Halloween dance once, the first time she had been deemed old enough to attend one. It had alternately bored and frustrated her. She had also visited a haunted house a few years later, and had been distinctly unimpressed with the whole experience. The decor was cheesy, the costumes clearly made out of polyester nylon, the make-up and prosthetics clearly artificial, and Opal herself distinctly disinclined to scream, jump, or run in circles like a ninnyhammer. She suspected the staff had found her rather frustrating, in her lack of responsiveness. No, that sort of event was not for her, all things considered.
However, Opal did have one autumnal ritual. It was a quiet, understated one, but it suited her nicely. Today seemed to be the day to implement- or rather, begin- it. She finally had the room all to herself. Oh, she could go to the library, she supposed, but as comfortable as that environment was, it wasn't the same thing as her own personal space. It was just one of those small, preferred details. Opal took her time, now that she had it; she arranged a seating space just so, with cushions and a cozy lap quilt. She made sure she was dressed comfortably, donning a nice soft cozy sweater. She made herself a cup of pleasing tea; this one was a cinnamon-spice flavor, suitable for the time of year. The girl settled her mug in a secure location, then grabbed her music player in one hand and a book in the other. Now all the pieces were in place, and it was time to begin.
Other people associate music with specific times of year, or television specials, or other forms of entertainment. Opal at times did that with books. There were some volumes one only read at certain times. One would not read A Christmas Carol in July, for instance, or A Midsummer Night's Dream in February. Opal's book of Halloween ritual was Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Rad Bradbury. It was a slender volume, but that just meant it was easily consumed in a couple of sittings. A deceptively simple story at first glance, it featured two young boys, both born around Halloween, just arriving in adolescence, and the strange carnival that comes to their town as their birthdays draw nigh, and the stranger-still carousel it offered that had the capacity to turn one's personal clock forward or back, depending on wishes, desires, or nefarious intent.... But beneath the trappings of the fantastical, it was ultimately a story of relationships with family and with friends and of self-discovery, not precisely of coming-of-age, but rather of beginning on the path toward that step in life's journey. It was also a very "October" sort of book, particularly of Halloween itself. Thus it was that Opal always re-read it when the season arrived. It had to be a physical copy of the book, too, not a digital one. The spine was old and much-cracked by now, but it sat better in her hands, evoking a feeling of timelessness.
Opal settled into her comfortable nest, arranging the lap quilt just-so. She inserted her earbuds before turning on her music player, scrolling through the options before selecting a suitably quiet, even somber, selection of classical compositions. Just enough to set the mood, but not enough to actively distract her. There, that was perfect. Opal picked up her mug and took a sip of her tea. That, too, was perfect. All was as it should be. Settling into her nest more securely, Opal opened her book and began to read.