A Halloween Old Wives Tale – Inspiration For Fiction

by | October 28, 2014 | General | 3 comments

Elizabeth Black
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction.
She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.
Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.


In two more days, it
will be my favorite holiday – Halloween. I’ve always enjoyed urban legends and
old wives tales, and there are plenty associated with Halloween. My favorite
one is a creepy, romantic exercise you do on Halloween at the stroke of midnight
to determine who your husband will be if you are a single, straight woman. If
you choose to try it out, this is the midnight going into Halloween, not the
midnight ending Halloween going into All Soul’s Day (Nov. 1). People have made
that mistake in the past. I’ve known about this old wives tale since I was a
child. When I was a 19 year old college student, I decided to put that tale to
the test.

Here are the
details. You may want to try it out for kicks if you’re a single, straight
woman. I suppose divorced, straight women may try it out as well. Maybe there’s
an updated version for GLBT, too. All I know is that this applies to unmarried

Get an apple, a hair
brush, and a candle. You’ll need to have privacy in a room in front of a
mirror. Go into the room of your choice and stand in front of the mirror. Light
the candle. By candlelight while looking in the mirror at the stroke of
midnight on Halloween, brush your hair and eat the apple at the same time.

You should see the
face of your future spouse materialize in the mirror.

It was the day
before Halloween in 1979. I was living on campus at college. I remembered that
old wives tale mid-day, and told my roommate about it. Neither of us were married
or dating anyone at the time – well, I wasn’t dating anyone even remotely appropriate
– so we decided to give it a try. We went to the grocery store and picked up
two apples, a candle, and some matches.  I waited for midnight with great anticipation.
About five minutes before the witching hour, I went into the bathroom with my gear
and turned off the light. I lit the candle. Shadows cast across the walls and
ceiling, and it was very quiet.

The prickly things
ran up and down my spine in excitement and fear. I was ready.

I looked in the
mirror as I ate the apple and brushed my hair, waiting to see a face. At
midnight, the only thing I could see in the mirror was my distorted reflection
from staring for too long and from ambient candlelight. I gave up, figuring
I’ll probably never get married, and left the bathroom. My roommate tried it
but it was past midnight and she saw nothing. We brushed it off as silliness
and went to bed.

Later that morning, on Halloween, I woke up past the time to get up for my first class of the day. I
looked at my clock and had a severe shock. It had stopped at midnight! I swear
I’m not making this up. I had no idea what that meant, but it couldn’t possibly
be good. I woke her up and showed her the clock. We were quite spooked by the
whole thing and told all our friends about it. It provided a few days of
amusing chatter but then we quickly forgot about it.

As it turns out, my
first marriage was a total disaster. I divorced him and I’ve since gotten over
that mess. I choose to think of my Halloween adventure and that clock stopping
at midnight as a warning I did not heed. I’m currently married to my soulmate,
and things are going very well for us.

This old wives tale
inspired my short erotic story “The Face In The Mirror”. The
anthology in which it appeared is sadly out of print, but I will dust it off,
rewrite it, and republish it next year.

Have you been inspired by legends and old wives tales in your writing?

Another version of
this old wives tale is to take that apple and peel it in a single strip. Toss
the strip over your left shoulder. These peels will spell out the initials of
your future husband.

So… if you are
single, do you dare try this little game at the stroke of midnight on
Halloween? Or are you chicken? Bwahahahaha!

Elizabeth Black

Elizabeth Black's erotic fiction has been published by Cleis Press, Xcite Books, Scarlet Magazine, Circlet Press, and others. She also writes dark fiction and horror as E. A. Black. She lives in Massachusetts next to the ocean with her husband, son, and three cats. The beach calls to her and she listens.


  1. Jean Roberta

    Intriguing story, Elizabeth! I knew about that Halloween custom, but I had never heard of a clock stopping at midnight in the process. Here is my own spooky true story about my (disastrous) first marriage. As a 16-year-old, I asked a ouija board if I would ever marry. It answered "yes." since I was a recent U.S. immigrant to Canada, I asked the ouija where my husband would come from. It spelled out "velvet." This answer made no sense to me, so I put it out of my mind for years. At age 22, I went to England, where I met a Nigerian man who proposed to me, and I accepted. His mother (who had died in childbirth many years before) was named Velvet.

  2. Elizabeth Black

    So sorry your first marriage was a disaster, Jean. That was such a super creepy story, though! Those kinds of experiences are great fodder for fiction. Thanks for writing, and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    Great post, Elizabeth – though I have to wonder what the males are supposed to do!

    And Jean, that's an amazing tidbit!

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