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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

spooky season

I've never stepped foot into a haunted house in my life. Although my old house was definitely haunted, but that was just by a widowed French woman who had a heavy hand with her rose perfume. She was harmless, but gee, that pungent odor sure wasn't.

I was an easily scared child - if someone tapped me on the shoulder without warning, I was guaranteed to scream and fall to the floor. So, I think the furthest I ever walked into a haunted house was the foyer. Right before I scampered right back out and made a beeline for the candy baskets. That would explain the pudgy, white-knuckled demeanor in all the pictures of young Alex in various princess costumes.

When I watch slasher movies, I skip passed the chase scenes and gory massacres.

I like the mystery of trying to find out who the killer is and the inevitable comic relief written into the plot. But, my cardiovascular system can't take jump scares or too much blood.

When I do watch the entirety of horror movies, I don't sleep. Sometimes, I talk myself up. "Oh Alex, you're grown, Totally Killer isn't going to freak you out, it's set in the 80s. It's not like you can time travel." Then, I find myself half-running, half-walking to my car after work, while also trying not to be indicative of the fact that I'm scared. Lest I tip off my attacker. So, really I just hobble to the front seat, lock my car doors, and shine the flashlight on the backseat to be sure we're in the clear. As if a flashlight is going to thwart any threats. To be fair, the parking lot has been foggy lately because of the condensation and empties entirely by nighttime. We could argue that I'm not at all paranoid and in fact, perfectly rational.

I think I like horror for the same reason I like sad things. I like to feel things really deeply (you don't say?). But unfortunately, I am a sponge for emotions I observe. This means I convince myself I am terminally ill after an episode of Grey's Anatomy or that I'm in serious danger like I'm staying at the Overlook Hotel. It's a cycle I can't break, however, because who doesn't love things set in the 80s, even if they convince you aliens are living in your backyard? Although, who knows? There very well might be.

Another reason I love Halloween is because it makes me feel very connected to my witchy ancestry. My mom has always assured me that we come from a long lineage of witches? I have no idea who as she hasn't mentioned one name, but like most delusional things, I'm inclined to believe it.

At home, I have received the tile of the family witch by my very modern mother. Once, I had a bad feeling about getting on a train when I was 10, so we took the one 15 minutes later. Nothing happened to the earlier train patrons, but something sure did happen to confirm that any anxiety I have could possibly be a premonition. Witch or crazy? We will never know.

You can't escape the witch ancestry. I get very intense about full moons, especially if I'm in a manic episode brought on by other terrible daily occurrences. Writing down the anxious thoughts that bother me, and then burning them in a cauldron are among my top tier activities that bring me joy. That and reading my bible.

In high school, we were required to take theology. Teachers taught me that subjects like witchcraft and astrology were a pathway of sin. But like I can't help that I'm so innately stubborn, I'm a Taurus moon after all. And like, if God didn't want me to download the CoStar app, then why did he make it so fun and girly pop? I don't buy it. I think God wants me to know my sensitivity is simply because I'm a cancer rising and that means I'm not dying when someone doesn't smile at me in the correct way.

I don't think I'm an actual witch, but wouldn't it be fun if I was. I already wear long skirts and chant to myself, why not just call it a vocation? But, whenever it does get to Halloween, I do feel a little bit more spookiness in my bones. Like maybe if it was 2013 and American Horror Store cover just came out, I'd be perfectly cast in the role. But, it looks like Misty Day was the only role I want and Lily Rabe outsold that performance.

I just think we can agree. If anyone were to get attached by an omniscient spirit it would be me. For clarity to all omniscient spirits I am not welcoming you, only self-deprecating. Please don't haunt me.




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