Trick or Treat

You dress up as my ex-lover: curly, blond hair and Scottish accent coated tongue. We collect treats and I steal a glance or two, stuff it between the candies. When we reach home, I sense a presence inside me, a light wobble, a tremor.

Two children are dressed as fairies. Their parents wait on the other side of the lawn. One girl looks at me, grabs three truffles and walks away. The other says, Thank you.

Tomorrow I’ll call the abortion clinic. But I need to talk to you first.

A woman walks up our driveway with a toddler. She looks like someone in a grocery line with a cart full of Campbell’s chunky soups and Hormel chili. Someone who drinks a lot of Coke and uses a lot of Bounty. After she leaves, I want to say something about her tangled hair, the delicate smile of her boy, but a series of elementary school kids appear: a bumblebee, two skeletons and a ninja. Twins dressed up as Snow White and Jasmine.

A pregnant woman is pushing a stroller on the sidewalk. Her shoulders are narrow, her gait unsteady. For a moment, I place my hand on my belly as if receiving a message from her fetus. I wonder if it is warm inside my belly.

We talk about what might be a cool Halloween costume: a talking gravestone, a time capsule, a laughing Buddha. Then we argue about right and wrong. More so about difficult and easy. The beginning and the end. How the wind knows its way even in darkness, how life always wins even if it seems otherwise.

There is a birthday party going on two houses down the road: the ruckus is on, teenagers in bandannas and ripped denim shorts, yelling, laughing and swearing all at once like a bad-flavored candy. A man dressed as a hobo shows up and says a mysterious word. You nod your head as if you know the meaning. He leaves without candy.

The sky looks like a translucent shell and an evening chill settles on our shoulders. You watch the falling leaves, the evaporating light. I sense the descending spirits, my child unfolding. Growing in the dark, knowing its way. We hold hands and I see your fingertips are all yellow from smoking. For a moment I forget, this is where I live. I could be a ghost already. A shiver slips through and lets me believe we still have time to be young and breathless. To treat ourselves with something new. To trick ourselves with love.

First appeared in Compose Journal, Spring’2016



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