Halloween

Right now I am remembering my daughter and our Halloweens. All the little animals she wanted to be, always a small, sweet animal. I remember the year I disrupted her life in order to save our lives, leaving everything behind. That Halloween she wore a black leotard and tights left over from a kindergarten dance recital. I stuffed her into the tights and lifted her up by the waist band, once, twice, three times. Her twig legs dangled and she tolerated the wedgie, my girl who hates the shirt tags against her neck, the thought of a turtleneck panics her, but a Halloween wedgie was nothing to her. Her legs disappeared under the dark material, she was sleek and colorless. I used streaks of mascara for her whiskers. We only had some craft store cat ears, limp and velvety and stuck on a headband, but it was close enough to being mouse-like, so it worked. We walked down the three flights of stairs from our sparse new apartment and into the night. Her hand stayed in mine even as she leaned forward for candy with her bright plastic pumpkin. Her eyes lit up from the inside and her hand buzzed from just enough fear, a fully charged small animal.

Fifteen years later, she is dressed in a black and white patterned skirt that flares out with every move. Turquoise powder dusts and sparkles on her cheeks. She is wearing lavender eye shadow and purple fairy wings. She is reading a Japanese comic book and looks up to see if shadows of children are under the streetlight. She gets up when the doorbell rings and her full skirt waves around her calves and sends out a whisper of a breeze. She has forgotten to put down the comic book, so stands for a minute to figure out the sequence of picking up the candy bowl, tucking the comic under her arm, opening the door.

They sing her favorite song. “Trick or Treat!” She smiles, says nothing, hands out fistfuls of candy. The wide eyes in the small faces stare at the young woman with the pastel face and the fairy wings.

“Are you a princess?” a brave one asks.

“May be,” she says.

She closes the door so slowly it doesn't make a sound. Her eyes are focused somewhere else. There is magic and sadness on her beautiful face.