The Ink Well Prompt #37: Death calls: trick or treat?

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Juan Manuel Istúriz is a prosperous businessman but he is having some health problems. ....... His mother, Ángela Suárez, and his cousin, Isabel, got together to have a snack and talk about what was happening to Juanma, as he is affectionately called.

In his younger days he made "disasters," as his elderly mother says:

-He committed excesses in many areas of his life. He tried drugs, he did little frauds. He was a playboy. He had several girlfriends that he abandoned, mercilessly, when they told him they were pregnant. So he never knew those children. It's better not to remember the latter.-

-And he doesn't plan to look for them and recognize them,- asks Isabel, Angela's niece.

-I hope he comes to his senses, as Saints' Day, All Souls' Day and Halloween are approaching. All of this is marked by the unexpected attitude that my husband Arturo assumed with Juanma during those days...... That puzzled him a lot.

Although he was a good husband, he never showed affection for his son, never hugged him or said he loved him. Also, he always wanted to have many siblings. I think that affected my only son. Maybe those insecurities were reflected throughout his life and, worst of all, he never wanted to admit it.....- says Angela.

-Ah! That's why he always does something special during those days,- exclaims Isabel.

-Yes, I guess so. This year he is preparing something different. He plans to give a pumpkin carving course and then any other surprises he can think of....- confirms Angela.

It was getting dark. Isabel decides to leave; they said goodbye but promised to attend the course.

Meanwhile, Juan Manuel is very excited...... This year his son, Alfredo, graduated in Economics and will start working in his company. Also, his daughter, Marta, is a doctor and is expecting her first baby. He plans to do something that everyone will remember on Halloween......

Juan Manuel made the sketches of his designs, began to carve the pumpkins......

While he was carving his favorite design he felt tired and, he lay down for a while....... Everything was already in darkness...... Without realizing it, he fell fast asleep......

Suddenly he feels an intense cold, it goes down to his bones. He hears a voice as if from beyond the grave......

-Juaaaaaanmaaaa, Juaaaanmaaaa, Juaaaanmaaaa, Juaaaanmaaaa, Juaaaanmaaaa.-

He turns around, sees no one. He thinks......he has never heard that voice, I don't recognize it. Keep working... This is almost ready, my carving turned out spectacular, now I will use different colors to paint the pumpkins and give them a different touch for this year. When she finishes..... he hears again the voice telling him: -

-Juaaaanmaaaaaaa I am Death. I've come to get you...... you've run out of time.....-

It can't be, this must be a trick - or is it a treat I don't know about?

I wish to meet my grandson. My son will start working with me, I have to train him to take over the business. Not now. Think .....Scared. No way, I still have a lot of things to do..... It occurs to him to propose a treat to Death.

After my grandson is born, you come and get me, that's all I ask of you.

-No, I can't grant it. I will come for you three days after you celebrate Halloween,- answers Death.

-Why?- asks Juan Manuel, puzzled.

Death tells him:

-You made many mistakes when you were young because of your insecurities. The worst thing is that you don't recognize them.-

Juan Manuel at that moment sees a movie of his life.

-Yes, I know, I see, I see, I see. Give me another chance,- Juanma asks desperately.

-On the third day after Halloween. That's the deal,- answers Death.

Juanma desperately begins to scream. His screams are heard by his wife Gertrudis; she runs out and sees him lying down. She touches him. Juanma reacts in confusion, shouting:

-I'm alive, I'm alive. I hope I'm still alive. .....-

His wife hugs him and tells him to calm down,

-Calm down, it hurts you. You had a nightmare,- Gertrudis points out.

-Yes, but I have to get the whole family together before the course. I have something important they need to know,- Juan Manuel tells her.

-All right, I'll take care of it,- Gertrudis answers affectionately.

She did so. The next day she called her children to a lunch at her house. They were all surprised.... they could not imagine the surprise that awaited them.......

Gertrudis prepared everyone's favorite dishes, baked pork with mashed potatoes and plum sauce, and for dessert, pumpkin flan. At the end of the meal they had coffee. At that moment Juan Manuel explained the reason for the meeting:

-I have gathered you, today, because I have to confess to you what happened in my crazy youth. As you all know I had several girlfriends. Because of my insecurity I did not continue with any of them until I met your mother.-

Marta interrupts him:

-Dad, that's not a problem. Don't worry. You are a wonderful father and you will also be a wonderful grandfather.-

At that moment tears sprang to Juan Manuel's face and he answered them:

-I abandoned three of my girlfriends, all of whom were pregnant. For that reason I got high for almost a year. .... But I never heard from them and if they had had the babies. What I ask is that you forgive me. I will try to look for those children. If anything should happen to me, I want you to promise me that you will keep looking for them.-

-Be calm, dad. We will. Concentrate on your party,- Alfredo answered.

-Yes, tomorrow I am going to give the course. I already have the pumpkins ready for the party,- said Juan Manuel.

The children said goodbye and Gertrudis finished preparing the candies that would be given as gifts.

The next day the pumpkin carving and painting course was held. Everyone was satisfied with their work. They said their goodbyes. On Saturday night, the day everyone was waiting for, they would meet with their relatives and neighbors. This year the outsiders, who were staying in the village, would also participate. The requirements were that they had to be in costume and with pumpkin lanterns.

Everyone attended, only recognizing each other by their voices and the outsiders by their accents. The costumes were some scary, some not so scary. The little children cried in fear of the pumpkin lanterns, the older ones took the opportunity to eat the delicious treats that Gertrudis had prepared for the celebration.

For a moment Juan Manuel remembers again the voice ..... I'm coming to get you on the third day ...... But at that moment, a lady asks him for a candy. He recognizes that voice, it is Claudia, one of his ex-girlfriends who came to town because of the fame of the Halloween parties. Juan Manuel is speechless from the impact, he begins to feel sick. Claudia helps him and recognizes him. Juan Manuel asks her about his son, to which Claudia replied that he died shortly after his birth. He was shocked.

The party continued, everyone had fun until dawn. Juan Manuel went home remembering the third day. ..... During the second day everything went normally. On the third day he received an urgent call from the hospital, his daughter was due to give birth early. They rushed to the hospital.

Marta had already given birth. When they arrived in the room, they found Marta smiling. Come in. Both twins are fine. Juan Manuel is excited, the joy of seeing his grandchildren was indescribable. He begins to feel bad, he has a strong pain. ...... He falls to the floor. The doctor arrives, examines him and says:

-There is nothing left to do.... Death took him.....-

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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