Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Kym Hepworth, angel

excerpt from the short story Another Halloween by Alison Lurie (1926-):

"Anyhow, it got to be another Halloween . . . It was an unpleasant night: cold and wet, with rain leaking down through the bare trees, and drifts of greenish-grey fog rising from the pavement . . .

When we were halfway around the block and on our way home I happened to look down the street and saw a bunch of kids crossing the road, maybe thirty feet away. The smallest one, trailing behind the rest, was wearing a bunny sleeper.

That was when I made my first bad mistake. I said to Marguerite, "Hey, look, there's a kid in a rabbit costume, like the one you saw last year."

She went all white and funny. "Where?" she squeaked, and stared round like someone who hears an explosion and doesn't know what direction it came from.

I pointed down the street. The little kid had stopped at the far corner and was looking back at us. She gave a kind of wave, or maybe she was just trying to get a better grip on the pillowcase she was dragging, and then she went on, running to catch up to the others.

"I've got to see -- Would you mind? I'll be right back," Marguerite said.

"Sure, that's okay," I agreed. I figured Marguerite would find out who the kid was, and get over being knocked sideways every time she saw a rabbit.''

Marguerite didn't even say thanks. She was already hurrying down the wet sidewalk: running a few steps in the high heels she always wore, then walking a few, then running again.

"Wait for me!" she called. But the rabbit was only a white blob now down at the end of the next block, and it didn't stop; maybe it hadn't even heard.

For a moment I just stood there, even though Joel and Jamie were already pulling at me, wanting to go on to the next house. I could see Marguerite's pale raincoat and paler hair shine and dim as she moved through the cones of misty brightness under the street lamps, getting smaller and farther away. Unloading your job on me again, was what I thought. Then she turned a corner, and that was the last I saw of her.

We finished the block, and Marguerite still wasn't back. I took Jamie home and told Glen his wife had gone to speak to some child she thought she knew, and he said, "Oh, okay."

But later at our house, when Joel was dumping his candy onto the kitchen table, I had the idea that maybe I should go out again and look for Marguerite. I even started to put on my raincoat.

If it had been one of my real friends I would've gone without thinking. But instead I paused and said to myself, What's the point? Whether or not she's caught up with the kid in the bunny costume, she has to be back soon. And if you do find her she'll give you that polite look that is her specialty. What are you doing here, why are you sticking your nose into my business? that look will say, the way it so often has.

I don't think that way anymore. Now I believe women have to take responsibility for other women, even ones they don't much like. And I think that if I'd gone after Marguerite maybe I would have been in time. . . ."

(source for quote: Mistresses of the Dark: 25 Macabre Tales by Master Storytellers selected by Stefan Dziemianowicz, Denise Little, and Robert Weinberg, published by Barnes & Noble Books, New York © 1998)

The Dream Syndicate - Halloween

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