Halloween Hell

By on Oct 26, 2014 in Essays

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Raggedy Ann with Grim Reaper

As we stepped out on 21, I consulted my list of apartments welcoming trick-or-treaters which had been posted downstairs on a sign-up sheet. “Let’s go to 21E first.”

A youngish couple opened the door and smiled at my children. The mother was holding their baby in a footed pink bunny suit, and a little boy dressed as a brown spotted cow stood next to her. The man put a handful of candy in each of my children’s shopping bags. “You are such a beautiful Raggedy Ann, and you’re a really scary Grim Reaper.”

“Thank you,” they both replied politely.

“What’s a Gwim Weeper?” the little boy, who was about three, asked Matt, as his brown cow eyes looked fearful.

“It’s Grim Reaper and he’s the guy who—”

“I’ll explain later,” his mom interrupted.

“Can I have a green lollipop instead of orange?” Sam asked. “Green’s my favorite.”

The man rifled through the bowl.

“Samantha, you can see he doesn’t have any. Let’s say ‘Thank you’ and move on,” Howard whispered sternly.

“Sammy, let’s GO!” Matt pulled her by the arm.

“Let go of me. I don’t have to listen to you. Only Mommy and Daddy.”

“Mom, you gotta DO something,” Matt implored.

I really didn’t want them to fight at the very beginning of the night. I glanced down the hall. “How about we go to 21G? Look at all the other kids over there. It looks like they have lots of great candy. Let’s go before they run out.”

“Why don’t you have a race?” Howard suggested.

Matt got there first, with Sam not far behind.

“Why don’t you help yourself, Raggedy Ann.” A man in his forties lowered the bowl in front of Sam first.

Samantha dove in with both hands, quickly grabbing four fistfuls.

“That’s enough. Now it’s Matthew’s turn,” I said.

He carefully took two handfuls. “Thank you.”

“Go on, take some more,” the very nice Mr. Russell urged. “Take as much as your sister. I have plenty more, and I’m hoping to give it all out tonight.”

We spent about another hour walking down the stairs, stopping at each floor and ringing many doorbells, never quite knowing how Samantha would behave from one neighbor to the next. When we reached the tenth floor, the kids had collected enough candy to last them through adolescence, and we decided it was time to finish up.

“One more, please, please, please,” Samantha pleaded.

Howard and I looked at each other. “Okay, just one.”

“How about the one with the skeleton on the door?” Matt pointed at 10C with his scythe.

The door to 10C was opened by a man dressed as a lion with his wife as a lioness. Standing next to them were blonde-haired, identical twin girls in lion cub costumes. A smiling baby boy was not far behind, sitting in a swing at the front of the living room.

“Aren’t you both adorable little lions! Twins, right?” I smiled at them both.

“Yes, Brittany and Taylor are twins,” their mom replied. “They’re three.”

“Believe it or not, Matthew and Samantha are twins too,” Howard told their father. “They’re almost six.”

“I would never have guessed. I know they’re fraternal, but they look so different. Samantha looks younger.”

“Well, I’m her big brother,” Matt explained. “I’m five minutes older.”

We all chuckled, but it wasn’t funny. My stomach was churning. Howard was right about Samantha having a baby face, but I knew it was more than that. It was already becoming obvious to strangers that she behaved like a younger child.

“Who’s that over there?” Samantha pointed to the baby. “He’s so cute. Can I go see him?” Before the parents could answer, she ran into the apartment. “Samantha, come back!” I demanded as she ran over to the baby

“Listen to your mother.” Howard gave me a weary look. “We should have quit while we were ahead.”

“But I just want to say hi to the baby,” she called out, not budging. “He’s so cute. Why can’t I meet him? I’m just being friendly. You’re so mean.” She stroked the baby’s cheek.

“Sorry for the intrusion, let me just go get her.” I rushed toward Samantha, and she ran through the living room. I could feel my face heating up.

“It’s okay, don’t worry,” the mom tried to reassure me. “She can say hi to Ben if she wants.” But she glanced at her husband, and I could tell they were uneasy.

“Samantha, we need to go now. If you don’t cooperate, I’ll have to help you.” I grabbed her arm.

“I don’t want help!” She jerked away. “I’ll go myself.”

“Good, because if you don’t move immediately,” I whispered, “I won’t let you eat your candy when you get home.”

“I want candy,” she insisted, quickly running out the door.

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Born and raised in New York City, Marguerite Elisofon is a die-hard city girl. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College with a double major in English and Psychology and returned to her beloved Big Apple to start a variety of careers: editorial assistant at Redbook, account exec in financial public relations and real estate broker. With the birth of her premature twins -- a son with ADHD and a daughter on the autistic spectrum -- Marguerite became a full-time mother who was determined to help her daughter, Samantha, beat the odds, go to college and achieve some measure of independence. Now that both twins have graduated college, Marguerite has written Family Pictures, a memoir that's part inspiration and part how-to, about raising and advocating for her two very different special needs kids. She also has a blog, The Never-Empty Nest, which explores the challenges of living part-time with young, under-employed millennials. Marguerite has attended a self-publishing workshop, a writer’s conference at Hunter College, a workshop series with Jacob Miller, as well as a Writer’s Digest conference. Her work has appeared in Existere- Journal of Literature and Arts and Hobo Pancakes.

One Comment

  1. Loved the piece. If you have not done so already, I urge you to read “Shine Shine Shine” by Lydia Netzer. Given the opportunity to go through it all again, I think you would decline because you have grown through those years and have developed the ability (which I am trying to develop now) to say, “That was an accomplishment, and now it’s time for all of us to move forward.” For me, easier said than done (so far).