The Scariest Basement

My daughter’s friend has a basement that’s been all decked out by her older brother’s friends for Halloween. Short Stack was making a big deal about how great it was. But it galled me to think that merely by “working” on a holiday project someone could accomplish a more frightening basis for a house than mine.

Seriously, my basement has, ORIGINAL: a labyrinth of low-ceilinged rooms, the largest one is one-quarter unexcavated, one window total, feeble fluorescents, a giant “diving bell” (dead, orange, rusty coal-fired furnace), and a stairway to nowhere, not to mention the usual pointy bits of hardware, broken tools, and shelves of leftover flammables.

I always had fantasies that Gavin and I would someday make the neighborhood’s destination Haunted House. I mean, it’s so “Buffy,” you’ll see in a minute -- though any mausoleum would be more finished. But when Gavin got sick and death hovered around us for months, the idea lost its appeal.

A few days ago, after keying them up a bit for a contest, I took the two girls down there and this is what happened. Hint: My basement lost. Not spooky enough to freak out two little girls. Apparently it’s “healthy” and “natural” because insects can live there.

They took it even further because a child’s natural optimism must always win. The girls declared that our basement just needed some “decorations.” While I was on the phone they picked wildflowers (dandelions, weedy daisies) and some of the good dahlias, without discrimination, located glitter shaped like dinosaurs and silver pipe cleaners, and sprinkled them all about.

No, I don’t know how it turned out... I’m afraid to look.

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