on campus sig (new)

No one told Opal that Lexington had cancelled Halloween. He pulled out an old bed sheet, spread it smooth across the table and drew two circles with a black marker, feeling the distance between his eyes. He took a pillowcase and did the same for Bear, cut holes so Bear’s legs could pass through. Opal thought there was something cool about turning yourself into a witch or a wizard using old crap in your house, cutting it up, tying it together, and showering it in glitter and red food coloring.

He draped the sheet over his head, stood in front of the long mirror with Bear.

“We look scary, Bear. Don’t we?”

Opal turned off all the lights, so that he could scare his Mom when she came home. He sat on the sofa, waited as the room darkened and lines of light from passing cars filed through the crack in the curtains.

After an hour he decided to go trick or treating. It was Halloween after all, and he’d gone to all the trouble of dressing up and wasn’t Bear with him? Whenever Opal went somewhere alone, he brought Bear with him.

The first house Opal knocked on was Officer Johnson’s. He didn’t answer but Opal saw the blinking on the T.V. behind the blinds.

He was the first out trick or treating. Once others saw him wandering around, they’d emerge. Opal would keep his identity hidden when people asked who that scary ghost was.

He climbed the steep drive to the Young’s, whose garden was besieged by pumpkins, lit by tealight candles. The Youngs always did Halloween big; last year they dressed up as the Addams Family in all black and slicked-back hair. The bell chimed a spooky jingle.

At the door, Mrs. Young wasn’t a witch, or a cat like in years past. She wore the same pair of blue scrubs that Opal saw her in every morning. No bowl of mini chocolate bars in hand. Bear spread his legs out under his chin like a Sphynx and huffed out a sigh.

“Who have we got here? Opal? Is that you?”

“Where is everyone Mrs. Young?”

“Oh Opal, didn’t you hear they cancelled Halloween?” She was petting Bear. Mr. Young came out.

“Cancelled?”

“Only until Saturday, dear.”

“During the Breeder’s Cup,” Mr. Young said. He sounded annoyed. He dropped a Milky Way into Opal’s empty bucket.

“Thanks.”

Opal walked back down the drive, tugging on Bear’s leash. He felt his face get hot and red, glad no one could see him.

Back home, he unwrapped the bar Mr. Young had given him, ate it, still in his costume. He watched his Mom pull up the driveway, heard the ratchet of the handbrake.

Opal slipped out the back door to the side of the house. He skulked, feeling the end of his costume dragging on the grass behind him. He waited until the headlights dimmed, then burst around the corner shaking the sheet with his arms. She dropped her purse and car keys, threw her hands to her face. Opal laughed and unveiled himself. His mom’s face turned the color of the moon.

“Happy Halloween, Mom.”