Thursday, November 13, 2008


The long streets, sparsely lit. Piled leaves scattered by the gusty wind. A photograph may capture their color, their motion, but not their sound. They rise with a crisp, dry hiss, fluttering, beneath the streetlights, then fall, to scuttle crab-like across the pavement. Desiree crunches waist-deep into a yellow, curbside mound. She emerges with oak leaves, like petting hands, clinging to the fur of her costume. Originally, she was to be a handmade pumpkin from Ladies Home Journal, until the release of 101 Dalmations when the half-sewn yards of green and orange felt were replaced with a pre-packaged, spotted hide. On a porch she stops, shying away from the gnarled, toothy face, the claw holding out the candy. She takes into consideration her mother’s words, “It’s not real, honey, it’s a mask.” But tonight, phantasm outweighs adult authority. She won’t even take the candy I collect for her. However, after watching me enjoy it without painful death, or sprouting hair and fangs, she charges the next house, undaunted by skulls, flashing Frankenstein heads, and a clothesline’s worth of cotton sheet ghosts.

Daneal is wearing a “sexy kitty” costume. Her posture slides between 12 and 17 as she swings her treat bag in time with hips she doesn’t quite have. Her eyes are sharp, trying to guess the boys behind their masks, so she can flirt, snub, or at least know which walk to use as she goes by. She is so intent on maximizing whatever sex appeal she has, so focused on her growing powers, that she seems to be calculating them on a moment-to-moment basis. She leaves us when she sees a group of older, unchaperoned girls. She crosses the street to show off her costume. The girls give an ambivalent nod of acknowledgement. Daneal’s bright voice, carried by the damp air, chatters away as if she does not notice their disengagement. But she does not linger. She returns, smiling and listing the girls' merits, with discomfort twitching behind her whiskers.

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