Spooky things happen around Halloween, and I’m not just talking the sight of zombies, ghosts and ghouls roaming the streets in their hunt for candy.
A few days after trick-or-treating, I entered my three-year-old daughter’s bedroom on a Saturday mission to hang princess curtains over her windows. I stopped in my tracks. It looked like my little Meg had robbed a candy store. Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, M&Ms, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil—you name it, she had it. Like most parents, we limit our girls’ sweets, but for Halloween we make an exception. Now I wondered if that was a good idea.
“Meg, honey,” I said, “can you go somewhere while I hang your curtains? It’s going to be very noisy.” I hefted my power drill. “And don’t eat any more candy, or you might get sick!”
“Okay, Daddy,” she said, and tromped down the hall.
I closed the door and popped in my earplugs so the sound of the drill wouldn’t deafen me. Then I set the drill bit to the molding and pulled the trigger.
Halfway through drilling, a feeling came over me. Stronger than any vibration I felt from boring the hole. Like something telling me to listen. I stopped and removed my earplugs. There was the faintest sound… someone was gagging, like they were about to be sick.
I put down the drill and opened the bedroom door. The sound was coming from my other daughter’s room across the hall. I hurried my step.
Meg was seated on the floor of her sister’s bedroom, surrounded by candy wrappers. Her face was beet red, and her eyes were wide with fear.
I told you too much candy makes you sick, I thought. I scooped her in my arms and raced for the bathroom. Hold it just another few seconds. But as I went through the doorway, I tripped.
Meg and I hit the sink cabinet with a thud, my chest against the small of her back. Oh, my God! I thought. Did I hurt her? I stood up and turned to see if she was hurt. She had stopped gagging, and appeared to be fine. “I thought it was candy,” Meg said.
“You thought what was candy, sweetie?” I asked.
My eyes fell on an object in the sink. A nickel. She hadn’t been nauseous, I realized. She’d been choking. Our fall had given her the Heimlich maneuver.
A million thoughts ran through my head. What had made me put the drill down and take my ear plugs out? What had tripped me up?
Maybe you’d call it a ghost—or the Holy Spirit. Whatever it was, I’m sure glad it spooked me.