You see these little ghosties everywhere, strung up in trees as though there's been a mass lynching, fluttering in the October wind, all ready for the big night--tonight--when they can scare little children doggedly trudging from house to house, trolling for treats.
I made my ghost in kindergarten. I'm trying to remember what his head was stuffed with--Kleenex, I think.
I look at that picture, and I find that I still love his face. Crooked, big features, kind of surprised and baffled looking. A lot like me. I am clenching it in a death grip around the neck and its expression does not look scary; it looks as though it might be choking. Gasping for air.
As you can see, I became quite attached to it, and kept it with me late into the fall.
I have always loved Halloween--the costumes, the candy, the bare branches rattling in the wind, the heady excitement of wandering the neighborhood alone after dark, knocking on strange doors, going into strange houses. In those days, in Duluth, people would invite us inside before relinquishing the candy. Grandma would love to see your outfit! they'd say, and we'd traipse shyly into the living room, sweating in our heavy jackets, which we always had to wear over our costumes so as not to freeze to death. We'd peer out from behind our plastic masks, our breathing sounding shallow and adenoidal, and blink in the light.
Grandma would be sitting in the easy chair, rocking busily, her dentures kind of working against her gums, and we couldn't tell that she liked our costumes, or didn't like them; she'd just rock and stare through her thick glasses, and rock, and stare. But her daughter or son would beam at us, and hold out a painted bowl full of those nasty peanut-butter kisses wrapped in pastel waxed paper, and say, Oh, Grandma just loved seeing you! Thank you! and out we'd go again, into the chilly night.
We are all set for this evening, even though the trick or treating these days is different. Store-bought costumes, and parents, always, watchful from down on the public sidewalk, and you certainly wouldn't dare invite any of those children into your house these days, not unless you wanted to get arrested.
But we have two pumpkins ready to light, and a big stainless steel bowl full of good candy, and Doug has repaired the doorbell in the nick of time. And even if some things are different, the important things are still the same. The wind is picking up, and the tree branches are bare, and the neighbor's bushes are twirling with little ghosties, and there should be a bright, if not full, moon.
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