Fall Flash Festival : TRICK OR TREAT?
Fall means a lot of different things to me. It’s a magical, transitional time of the year chock full of festivals and holidays. Here’s one little take on what it means to someone like me…
TRICK OR TREAT?
By J. Whitworth Hazzard
“Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream.” -J. Campbell
“Dad!” Emily stomped her foot at the threshold.
Her Tinkerbell costume, all green leaves and bright sparkles, looked bare to my eyes. The setting sun would turn the wind loose after dark and her fairy wings would do little to warm an eight-year-old’s skin on the most important night of the year.
“Trick or treating doesn’t start for another fifteen minutes,” I grinned. “We have plenty of time to find you a jacket.”
Emily pouted and swung her princess pumpkin over her head. “Fairies don’t need jackets. Please, we’re going to be late.” The glitter in her self-applied makeup had run all over her face. A few specs had even managed to find their way onto her new front teeth. She was too cute to be mad at. I remembered what it was like to be that excited; the infinite possibilities of youth.
“Then their Fairy daddies don’t let them go out to get candy.” I pulled out an old green hoodie out of the closet that would keep her warm and fit under the costume.
Emily crossed her arms tightly and scowled. We bellowed at the same time, “Mom!”
Summer appeared, as if by magic, with a monstrous bowl of candy and tutted the both of us. “For heaven’s sake, Jay, it’s fifty degrees out. She’s not going to freeze.”
“Fifty degrees. Exactly my point. I can’t afford to take three more sick days because fairies don’t wear coats.”
Summer smiled and leaned in close. “Do you remember when I dressed up as a cat in College?”
The smile came unconsciously. I remembered that Halloween fondly, though there wasn’t much to the cat costume. Some furry ears and a little fishnet weren’t exactly transformative. Every time we went to that bar—once in a blue moon those days—Kim made me drive by the old one-bedroom apartment. We had more fun in those eight hundred square feet than two adults were legally allowed to have. But, careers and credit cards and the whisper of babies-to-come crept up on us and drove us out.
“It was forty degrees that night,” Summer whispered in my ear. “She’ll be fine.”
“You were drinking vodka to keep you warm,” I smirked. “Should I keep a flask handy for her?”
“Just go have fun, old man. I’ll warm you up when you get home.” The wink. The smile. I couldn’t help but blush as I pushed Emily out the door, her hoodie safely in my hand. Just in case.
“Come on, kiddo. Pop’s waiting for us,” I said.
We walked, hand in hand, past ghouls, goblins, and witches until the new suburban McMansions gave way to the smaller, tidier houses of our parent’s generation. Emily dashed playfully through the piles of fallen leaves as she raced to hit every doorbell. I stood on the street, wondering where her energy came from; trying not to think about the nagging pain in my knees. At forty-two, the scars added up quickly, internally and externally.
“Grandpa’s house is next,” Emily shouted. “My grandpa lives here.” The ninjas she told in passing seemed not to care, but it didn’t phase her in the least.
We jumped together over the cracks in the sidewalk by the old oak tree. I let go of her hand and watched my daughter run through the darkness up the same sidewalk I did as a child. My bedroom was a study now and the roof sagged by the front porch, but little else had changed. The paint would need touching up again soon and Dad would need help clearing the gutters before winter. I worried about him more than I let on with Mom gone, especially around ladders.
“Oh my,” Pop’s voice bellowed from the front door. “The most beautiful fairy in all the land is on MY porch. What is your name, little fairy?” He bent down low, bushy white eyebrows covered the twinkle in his eyes.
“Granda…” Emily hugged him and giggled. “It’s Emily. Come on, hurry! You’re going to miss watching me trick or treat.”
“Okay, go get two candy bars from the bowl while I get my jacket on.”
Emily took off into her Grandpa’s house, leaving me standing on the porch facing my own father. The wind turned and whipped leaves over the plastic pumpkins. I felt the bite of the coming winter on the tips of my ears.
“You let her wear that without a coat? It’s cold out,” Pop scolded.
The old man smiled at me. There was no age limit on parental wisdom, or ribbing. I watched his now-delicate hands struggle with the zipper on his winter coat and moved in to help. He shooed me away and took one look at my windbreaker.
“Is that what you’re wearing? Take that off. I’ve got a proper coat in the closet here,”