Martina had lived the most wonderful life, full of love, family, and sweetness. She’d always been a great beauty, and even now in her early 90s she looks many years younger. When asked how she stayed looking so young, her response was always, “I eat good chocolate, drink great wine, and mind my own business,” which always elicited hearty laughter. But those days were behind her. She’d been in her bed, at home, surrounded by her family for days as they waited for her to quietly pass. It had taken a little while to come to terms with it, because who is really ready to face this situation? But she met it head-on, calmly, and was just enjoying the company of her loved ones in her final moments. Plus, it was Halloween, her favorite holiday. Fall had always been her favorite season, and the synchronicity of dying while the world around her changed offered another sense of peace. That morning, her newborn great-granddaughter was brought to meet her, and the beautiful and bittersweet circle of life hit the whole family when her grandson announced that they’d named her Martina. Now, several hours later, her breathing began to slow. Her children and grandchildren gathered round and murmured quiet reassurances through tears as her eyes closed.

Martina awoke outside on the cold, damp grass as the sun was setting. “Why am I here?” she wonders, getting up far too easily for an old woman. She feels amazing: no aches and pains, no foggy memory, no twisted muscles. It was like being a child again, with a body that moved easily. Martina jumped up and down, excitedly, and slipped on the wet ground. She fell down in a pile of leaves and bumped her arm on something cold and hard. Turning to look at it, she realized it was a headstone. In fact, she was surrounded by headstones. She was in a cemetery, and the headstone she was reading was hers. She paused for a moment, reckoning with the information: she was definitely dead, but somehow, she was back on Earth. Rather than being upset, she felt a rush of gratitude. “It must be Halloween!” she said, looking at the leaves all around, and the wreaths, flowers, and gourds left on the graves nearby. Her own was highly decorated; her family hadn’t forgotten about her on her favorite holiday. She was touched, and decided to go visit them. Thankfully, her house wasn’t too far from the cemetery, and she walked confidently in that direction. It made complete sense that she should be back amongst the living tonight; she’d always thought the veil between worlds was almost gone every October 31st. Martina hoped her family felt the same way, and wouldn’t be too scared to see her walking among the living again.

As she got to the street, she could see trick-or-treaters roaming the streets in costumes, eagerly running from house to house in various stages of costume dress as their parents lagged behind and half-heartedly attempted to rein them in. Not too many people seemed to notice her, but the ones that did looked absolutely terrified. Several children saw her and screamed and ran away. “It’s like they’ve never seen an old woman before,” she thought as she made her way to her house. As she’d expected, all the lights were on, music filled the air, and rotating family members kept coming out to supply candy to the trick or treaters. What she hadn’t expected was that her little great-granddaughter would be having her first birthday party and toddling around in a tiny princess costume. She felt her breath catch as she raced to the door. Little Martina seemed to feel her presence and turned to look and wave at her. “Meeema!” she cried, pointing to the door. Inside, her relatives looked and shrieked, slamming the door. It was there, in the reflection of the glass, that Martina could see that she looked like a decaying, disgusting corpse, and not the beautiful old woman she saw when she looked down at herself. “I’m horrifying!” she said, running back to the cemetery. Inside, she heard tiny Martina crying and calling out for Meema. She made it back to the cemetery, laid down on her grave, and cried herself to sleep.

She awoke again as the sun was beginning to set, and realized it was Halloween the following year. This time, she waited until it was fully dark to go to her old house and check on her family. She still saw people scream if they happened to glance her way, but when she got to her old house, she hid behind the house, nestled in leaves next to the stack of firewood. She peeked through the window at her now two-year-old great-granddaughter, who seemed to sense her presence and waved directly at her, before turning to run and get more Halloween candy. Martina stayed there all night, just enjoying being near to her family, and before she knew it, she was waking up on her grave again.

So it went for the next many years … though it only felt like a few days to Martina. Time is different for the dead. She’d wake up on top of her grave, wait until darkness, then go to her old house to see her family. It was amazing to see time pass so quickly from her vantage point; whole years slipped by in the span of just a few hours for her. What also changed was her appearance to the world. She still saw herself as … well, herself, but to the world she changed from a decomposing zombie down to just a skeleton. It still scared people to see a walking skeleton, but as technology advanced, most people wrote her off as some kind of elaborate hologram or decoration. She still never saw her family except through the back window. The only one who knew she was there was her granddaughter, though she didn’t dare let the rest of the family know. Or, rather, she’d tried to explain, but nobody seemed to believe her. Plus, it was always little Martina’s birthday party, so she could not sneak away to go see her undead great-grandma, and old Martina was also wary of scaring her with her terrifying appearance.

But on little Martina’s 18th birthday, things changed. When old Martina arrived at the house, the party was in full swing, but not-so-little Martina was sitting on the porch. She was wearing an elaborate flower crown, and seemed like she was waiting for a guest to arrive. Her great-grandmother was nervous; there was no way to sneak around the house without being seen by her great-granddaughter. Something within her told her to just … walk up to the porch and sit by her namesake, so that’s what she did. When little Martina saw the skeleton walking towards her, she didn’t scream, or cry, or panic. Instead, her face lit up into a bright smile. “Meema!” she said, grabbing Martina into a hug. Martina felt the tears fall. Finally, she wasn’t a scary skeleton to run away from, and she could receive the family love she’d been carrying on for years even after her own death. “I knew it was you, I always knew you came back to be with us,” her great-granddaughter said with tears in her own eyes. “Come, sit with me on the swing. I’m going to make you the queen of the party.” Little Martina took the flower crown off her head and put it on old Martina’s head. “Skeletons are very cool now, and so is the combination of cute and spooky,” she explained to her great-grandmother, who sat down next to her namesake. “We call it ‘spoopy,’ and that’s exactly what you are now.” Martina laughed, loving the way young people still made up terms for everything. Over the course of the evening, little Martina introduced and explained to the family what was going on. It was a shock, to say the least, but eventually everyone was thrilled that they could have their beloved Martina back every year. It became a new family tradition for everyone to dress up as a skeleton with cute accessories on Halloween, with the two Martinas in matching flower crowns. Local children loved their spoopy talking skeleton decoration and wondered where they could get their own. They were the talk of the town every Halloween, and both Martinas were delighted.

Scent Notes: Marshmallow and ginger mingle with fallen leaves, amber, and a freshly chopped pile of firewood.