In a small town in northern Michigan, there was a tiny house all alone in one of the back fields. It was just like you’d expect any old abandoned house to be; peeling, grey paint, broken windows, unloved. No one ever really payed attention to it at all. They would say, “What a shame it was that no one cared for it”, but no one ever did anything about that.
Except on Halloween.
The town was famous for its leaves in the Autumn, dusty gold and pale orange and blazing red. They always attracted visitors. And on Halloween Night, at the height of the season, everyone always stayed out as long as possible, just to enjoy the festivities.
And there were three troublemakers that stayed out the longest of all. Maura, Beetle, and Lucas had lived in the town for their whole lives, and every Halloween, the threesome would sneak into the house, burn candles, and spin tales as beautiful and mysterious as the leaves on the trees in the moonlight. All three children were talented storytellers, and as long as there was candy in their basket, they would be content to stay there until morning.
In the Autumn of 2019 , all three were as reckless as ever, all having turned 17 in the past year. Maura was going to College next year, and Beetle was as well. Lucas was moving to Georgia in December, so you could imagine their desire to remember this particular Halloween as a good one. So, when the night rolled around, Maura met Lucas and Beetle at the oak tree at the park, and they walked to the house together. The night air was crisp as the dead leaves under their feet, and smelled of smoke and caramel and apples. They joked and talked as they made their way towards the house, but when they got it in their sights, their enthusiasm stopped. The lights were on in the windows. The candles were lit on the porch, and Beetle pointed as a shadow flittered past the window. The three looked at one another, and then grabbed a few sticks to serve as protection, and strode towards the house.
Lucas pushed open the door, and walked in first. The other two followed, wary of what they might find. They pushed open the door that led to the sitting room, and golden light danced around their faces, astounded by what they saw. There was a small, old woman sitting by an oil lamp, spilling the gold light all about the room. Her hair was long and braided, and her face was worn and brown. Her hands were deftly whittling a bird out of elm. She looked up as they entered, and all three teens wanted, without question, to run. Her eyes were gone. In place, she had stitches that covered almost all of her sockets.
The woman smiled, and beckoned. Maura asked her her name. The woman said simply; ” Elm Stitch.” She then told each of them to sit down, and to make themselves comfortable. All three teens sat down, still nervous. Elm Stitch then told them to each tell a story. They took this as an odd request, seeing as most adults that they told their stories to didn’t pay much attention, but she insisted, so they told her 3 stories. Maura told of the Crow Man, a selfish deity that took children’s dreams. Beetle told of a misty lake where one could enter another universe. Lucas told the story of how the moon came to be, tied to the Earth by a string of gold horse mane.
When they finished, Elm Stitch bowed to each of them, and then winked and faded into black shadow. The threesome looked at each other, and then carried on with the rest of their night as usual. However, the image of Elm Stitch stayed in their heads.
Years passed, and life went on. Maura went to college in Boston, and excelled in creative writing. Beetle went to a small school in Columbus to study theoretical physics. Lucas moved to Georgia and worked at a small magic shops, where he dusted the props for performances. Then, one year, Maura called the other two and told them that she wanted to visit the old house again. And so, Beetle, Lucas, and Maura, now adults themselves, came to the small town to visit the old forgotten house again. The town hadn’t changed one bit, and all three were having quite a time reminiscing, but when they came to the house they got down to business. There was no sign of Elm Stitch. They searched all around the place for just one clue that it hadn’t been a dream. They found nothing, and we’re about to go home when Lucas noticed something on the windowsill. It was the bird that Elm Stitch had been whittling. The note on the bottom said, “Keep spinning your beautiful tales.”
They looked at each other. Maura suggested, smiling, that they tell some stories.