October 25, 2019 | Narrative
more treats than tricks
The House Unvisited
By Jennifer Osborne
My first time trick-or-treating was also my mother’s first. Having just moved to Singapore from my mother’s home country, China, where I spent the first eight years of my life, we attended every school-sponsored event in an effort to meet other expat families. My mother received notice at one Coffee Morning that there would be “trick-or-treating” in the neighborhood surrounding my school, so she promptly outfitted me and my sister with matching Cleopatra costumes and pumpkin-shaped buckets.
On Halloween night, we arrived to an utterly transformed version of our usual playdate surroundings: Houses were swallowed by mounds of cobwebs, porches were laden with lanterns, and, most importantly, parents were in ridiculous getups with 5-kg bags of candy. My mom was charmed by the festive decorations and the sight of little kids running around in costumes. As soon as we were old enough to go trick-or-treating unsupervised, she began preparing our house to receive young Halloween visitors.
There was just one problem—we lived 30 minutes away from the school and any other significant population of Americans. Since moving to the States, my mother has persevered despite the fact that the door to our side of the duplex isn’t visible from the street. No kids ever came trick-or-treating, and year after year, we wound up with enough Snickers bars and M&M’s to last us through Christmas. At most, the children of the downstairs neighbors would visit us.
It’s been years since I’ve been at home on Halloween evening, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that, no matter what, my mom will be waiting by the door next Thursday night in a house bedecked with witches and ghosts, hoping that some wayward child will see our lights and come calling.
Wish upon a Starfish
By Sydney Lo
When I was younger, Halloween was Cinderella’s Ball: an opportunity to become someone magical, heroic, special. What did it matter that I already wore a princess gown to my kindergarten class three days of the week? Or that I already had a foam sword I regularly used to fight “dragons” (the pine trees in my front yard)? Halloween was my moment to truly embody a storybook character. And, more than anything, that year, I wanted to be the Little Mermaid when I went trick-or-treating.
I had circled the costume in all the ad magazines my family got in the mail: a purple bikini top and a long green skirt that mimicked a tail. “It’s too cold,” my father stated when I gave him my sales pitch. He had a point; we lived in Minnesota, so each year there would already be piles of snow on the ground and below-freezing temperatures well before October 31. Still, I badgered him, pointing out that since we already drove the car from house to house anyway, I would just be taking quick walks up and down driveways.
“Well, can you even walk in it?” he asked, half-joking. I probably couldn’t, so I told him to roll me in our red wagon. He was even less entertained by this idea.
In the end, I didn’t get the costume. I don’t recall what I ended up dressing up as, or which houses we visited, or the kind of candy I got. I am left with the memory of an unfulfilled Halloween wish—one I can perhaps rectify now that I’m an adult. Then again, I doubt Providence will be much warmer than Minnesota this October.
The Costume Rival
By Julian Towers
What didn’t they understand? It was I who was the chosen one, the boy who lived. The lightning bolt scar, the glasses with white tape on the bridge, the Quidditch gloves—these were all the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling, sure. But tonight, this special Halloween night, Harry Potter had been reserved just for me. So who was this fucker in the Gryffindor sweater two houses ahead?
As my family bounded from house to house, I thought I overhead some cries of “Expelliarmus!” from the group further along our route. But it wasn’t until I received two mini Twix and a cherry Tootsie Roll Pop at Mrs. Tropp’s house that the dark truth revealed itself to me completely. As she beamed down at me from behind her goblin face paint (dealings with girls in intervening years have informed me that this was actually a “face mask”), I learned that I was “the second young wizard of the night!”
At age seven, my identity wasn’t yet secure enough to withstand such dissociative trauma. My parents tried to get me to continue down the street, but I wouldn’t budge. Instead, in protest, I began to eat one of the peanut candies I was supposed to turn in to our parents out of respect to my mortally allergic brother. The EpiPen came swinging out, and I thought to myself that it resembled a wand.
A Picturesque Scare
By Amanda Ngo
It started off as an uneventful Halloween night. While one of my friends went all out, most of us were traditional, last-minute costumers. I, for one, put on a squid hat and called it a look.
The allure of the holiday was starting to fade for us; the only reason to go trick-or-treating was the free candy. Rejoicing in this time of year was left to the younger kids whose eyes lit up at the flashy lights and inflatable characters decorating the houses, and to the college kids who saw Halloween as a reason to throw some of the best themed parties of the year.
With our bags full, my friends and I were ready to call it a night when we heard metal scraping against the pavement. A little ways down the road, a masked man in a raggedy tee paced up and down the street, dragging a baseball bat behind him. The villain from Friday the 13th come alive. Alone.
Rational kids would have bolted in the other direction. Social media vultures like us, however, were actively drawn to morbid situations for the sake of getting that perfect photo.
After one of our friends egged us on, we approached the lone Jason Voorhees for a picture. I’ve never been one to scare easily, but in that moment, I was paralyzed. In the photo, my smile is forced on my face, overcompensating for my intense fear of this strange, silent man, whose only communication with us came in the form of heavy breathing.
I guess it’s a beautiful thing that some people never grow out of their love for Halloween. I guess it’s a terrifyingly beautiful thing.