Snow gulps as she passes through a wrought iron gate. “Why do we have to go to the cemetery?” she asks Frost as the gate creaks shut behind them.
After the Mayor and Jack had left, Frost wove a web reading, “Go to cemetery.”
“You sure?” she asked.
The little spider scurried in circles.
Now, they are entering the cemetery via a different gate, not the front gate manned by Mr. Crow. The gravestones vary from simple flat stones to elaborate statues. “Why are we here?” Snow repeats when the ice spider remains where he is on her hand.
Frost starts spinning another web. Snow holds her other hand close so that she doesn’t have to tilt her head to read it. Between her hands, Frost spins, “Graves.”
“What about them?”
“Hey, girlie!” a voice shouts. Snow whirls around – it’s a boy not much older than her and a few inches taller, standing near the gate. He’s wearing a one-piece red suit with a matching devil tail and horns. “What do you think you’re doing out here?”
“Cool web!” a different boy says, walking out from behind a nearby statue of a werewolf. He wears a skeleton costume and has a black and orange lollipop in his hand. With his other hand, he points to her hands, where the silver web remains. “Did you do that yourself?”
“Stupid, Barrel!” The devil-boy slaps the skeleton-boy. “You were supposed to wait until she got over here before you jumped out!”
“Imbeciles!” Snow hears a voice hiss loudly.
The two boys turn to the werewolf statue and scream, “Are not!”
A girl dressed like a witch jumps out. “Are too!”
As the three kids fight, Snow takes a step back. They haven’t noticed yet. She takes another step back, but on her third step, the witch-girl sees her and shouts, “Not so fast!”
In panic, Snow turns and runs through the cemetery. She can hear the three kids snickering as they follow her. She glances over her shoulder – and trips over a tombstone. She’s scrambling to her feet when she realizes the web is broken – and Frost was on that web. “Frost! Frost!” she screams, searching all along the dirt ground for the ice spider.
“There’s no frost anywhere here, missy.” Snow looks up – it’s the devil-boy. They’ve caught up to her.
The witch-girl puts her hands on her hips and leans forward, peering at Snow. “What are you doing here in the cemetery?”
“I, uh…was looking for some graves,” she mumbles.
The devil-boy crosses his arms. “What for?”
Snow stares at the ground, unsure how to answer that. Frost had led her here, but now he’s gone. She shuts her pale gray eyes, but a couple tears manage to escape.
“Aw, it’s okay,” the skeleton-boy, Barrel, says.
Shaking her head, Snow cries, “My spider’s gone.”
“Aw, poor spider.”
“Oh, come on, Barrel,” the other boy says.
“You come on, Lock.”
“Shut up! Both of you!” shrieks the witch.
Not wanting to hear anymore fighting, Snow crawls backward a ways and hugs her knees to her chest, burying her face in her dirt-streaked white tights.
“Hey,” she hears Lock say. He must have walked closer to her. “If you want a grave for your spider, we can help you find one.”
Snow shakes her head. She’s hoping that Frost isn’t dead, but if she can’t find him –
“Uh oh,” Barrel says.
“Run!” the witch-girl shouts.
“Wait up, Shock!” Lock calls as he and Barrel run away.
Snow lifts her head up – they’re gone. “Were they bothering you?” Snow looks over her shoulder – a really pretty ragdoll with waist-length red hair and blue-tinted, ashen skin looks down at her. Stitches hold her body together, and she wears a patchwork dress. Her brown eyes hold nothing but concern. “If those kids were bothering you,” she continues, “you need to tell someone who can help you.”
Snow sniffles and stands up, dusting her uniform off. “No, they weren’t bothering me,” Snow mumbles. “Um, have you seen a silver spider anywhere?”
The ragdoll shakes her head sadly. “I’m sorry, I haven’t.”
The ragdoll looks past Snow and her red lips curl up into a little smile. “I think someone just found him.”
Snow turns around and watches Lock, Shock, and Barrel running around. “Ghost spider!” they shout. “Ghost spider!”
“Where?” she asks them.
“On the tombstone,” Barrel says shakily, pointing his lollipop at one of the tombstones.
Snow gets closer to the stone – and sees a silver-white speck. “Frost!” she chirps. Holding her hand out, the little spider crawls on. “I was so worried about you!”
your spider?!" Shock says.
Snow thinks it interesting that having a “ghost spider” for a pet is weird in a town of spooks and thrills. “His name’s Frost,” she says, holding out her hand for them to see.
“What a weird name,” Lock comments.
“Be nice, you three,” the ragdoll says. “Remember what Jack said about behaving yourself.”
The three kids slouch at the same time, muttering under their breath. Without saying goodbye, they take off.
"Sorry about them," the lady says apologetically.
“It’s okay. Thanks for getting rid of them, though.”
The ragdoll woman’s eyes turn downcast and she wrings her hands. “I hope they don’t ruin the wedding,” she says.
Snow nods. “Yeah, everyone’s getting involved in it. What are you doing for the wedding?”
She giggles nervously. “I’m the bride.”
Snow’s eyes widen. “You’re Sally?” The ragdoll nods. “Oh, my gosh! You’re so pretty!”
Sally ducks her head bashfully. “Thank you.”
Frost scurries up to Snow’s shoulder as she walks closer to the bride-to-be. “So, what are you doing out here in the cemetery? Shouldn’t you be getting ready?”
Sally sits down on a stone bench hidden between two tallish tombstones. “I’m supposed to be working on my wedding dress,” she says, her eyes staring down, “but the women who were supposed to help me are doing other things for the wedding. And I’m not sure what to do for my dress. I came out here for some inspiration, but so far I can’t think of anything.”
Snow thinks for a second. “Well, what are wedding dresses usually like in Halloween Town?”
Glancing at her, Sally asks, “You’re not from Halloween Town?”
“Nope. I’m from Christmas Town. I came to help out.”
“That’s sweet of you.” Sally smiles briefly before resuming her wondering look. “Well, dresses here are long and white, and are usually decorated with something either belonging to the bride or given to the bride. But wedding dresses for a queen are a different matter.” She clutches the stone bench and sighs. “I don’t know what to do for mine.”
Snow opens her mouth to say something when she sees Frost making his way down her red sleeve. He crawls onto Sally’s hand. “Oh!” she says. “What a cute spider.” She holds her hand up to meet her gaze and smiles at him.
“His name’s Frost,” Snow says. “He’s an ice spider from Christmas Town.”
“I love spiders,” Sally comments, twisting her wrist as needed to better watch Frost. “They make beautiful webs.”
Snow nods. “Do you have a pet spider?”
Sally shakes her head. “I have a fake spider on my sewing machine, but no real ones.”
“You sew?” Snow looks at her.
She nods with a smile. “I love sewing.”
“Cool! You’re kinda like a spider yourself, except you sew instead of weave, and you don’t make webs.” Snow’s voice trails off, and she has second thoughts about her supposed-to-be compliment.
Sally just chuckles and replies, “A bit. I just have to connect the threads I use for sewing to produce a web pattern.” Silence. “So, what brings you to the cemetery? Shouldn’t you be helping the town with the wedding?”
“Um, well, Frost told me to come here,” Snow mumbles, avoiding eye contact with Sally.
“You can talk to spiders?”
“Not really, I-”
Just then, Frost starts spinning a web on Sally’s hand. Both girls watch him quickly weave yet another message. Sally tilts her head and reads aloud: “Graves.”
“That’s what he told me earlier.”
Sally lowers her hand and her brow furrows. “What about graves?”
“I dunno, maybe – wait!” Snow suddenly exclaims. “When we got to town, we heard about the missing crowns!”
“The crowns are missing?” Sally’s eyes widen. “That’s horrible!”
“Yeah, we were supposed to go looking for them, but then Frost said to come here. Something about graves.”
Sally looks out at the field of gravestones. “Do you think the crowns could be buried?”
“Maybe.” Both girls hop off the bench. “Where should we start?”
“Um…” Sally looks around before pointing towards the spirally hill in the distance. “Maybe near Spiral Hill? I know there’s a huge patch of dirt there no one’s used yet, and there are some empty tombs near there, too.”
“Okay, let’s go there.”
They haven’t even passed two gravestones when they hear a scree!
Looking up, they spot a black bat circling the sky a few times before flying down to them. In a puff of black smoke, the bat vanishes – and in its place is a fat vampire with a black umbrella. “Zere yvoo are, Sally!” he says with a thick accent Snow can’t identify.
“Hello, Afansus,” Sally said. “Is everything alright?”
“Hydra, Helga, and Zelda are looking for yvoo in Town Square. Zey vant to help yvoo vith yvour dress.”
Sally sighs with relief and gives a little smile. “Thank goodness I’m not alone.”
“But what about the dirt patch?” Snow pipes up
“Who are yvoo?” the vampire asks, turning to her.
“I’m Snow, from Christmas Town. I came to help out.”
Afansus looks impressed. “Zat is very far for yvoo, little vun. How old are yvoo?”
Sally interrupts on Snow’s behalf. “You were saying the ladies wanted me?” she says.
He turns back to her. “Yes. Zey said somezing
about ‘personal touches’ or similar.”
“What’s that?” Snow asks.
“A lot of brides like to decorate their dresses with a pattern or style that represents them,” Sally explains, “or that they like a lot.”
“Ooh! What’s your personal touch gonna be?”
“Sally, yvoo should go now and meet ze girls before zey get anxious,” Afansus warns.
“Yes, I know,” Sally says hurriedly. Turning to Snow a final time, she says, “I was thinking something to do with spiders, but if I’m going to be the Pumpkin Queen I think it should be something with pumpkins.”
“Ve must go now.” Afansus half-drags, half-leads Sally back into town via the path to the main gate. Snow can hear Sally’s voice calling out a goodbye.
Snow waves, then looks down at her shoulder. “So, Frost, shall we go to the dirt patch?”
He hops twice.