My birthday is so close to Halloween that one year, when my mother decides to have it late, we have a Halloween party. I tell all my friends to come dressed in their costumes. I am the witch I always wanted to be, with a black cone hat and black cape, and a broomstick which is taller than me. I have no false nose or green face or pasted-on mole. I am a small girl with chubby cheeks and beautiful blue eyes. I am hardly the threat I had hoped to be.
My mom wears the red one-piece long john pajamas my father's parents had sent her that past Christmas, with a red cap she had sewn cotton-filled horns onto, and a red-lipstick smeared face. On her butt she attached a red cotton-filled tail to the drawers - a piece of her suit that opened and closed, complete with buttons, in case she had to go to the outhouse in the middle of a winterĖs night, and "do her business" - the part she laughed hysterically at when she pulled the pajama suit out from it's box, like a sleepy, helpless kitten, so many months before.
My mother had just finished making her wrinkled, aluminum-covered broom handle for a trident, when the first guests ran the doorbell. I ran to answer it.
"Not yet! Nicht so schnell, Eva! Wait until I'm there."
They rang again as I waited there and could see the blurry, shadowed form from the other side of the bubbled glass that decorated the front door. I was sure that they could see me too.
She stood at the edge of where the door opened. "Now, you open the door but hide behind it," she told me as she steadied the trident that she'd created from aluminum foil and a broomstick.
I opened the door and peeked around the corner as my mother smiled in front of it, in full view, with something that I hadn't seen before. In her mouth was a plastic mouthpiece, complete with fangs. Jeffrey and Holly stood outside, in their costumes, their mouths and eyes and faces stretched wide with horror. They lived in the neighborhood so their mother hadn't driven them there, and wasn't waiting from her car, ensuring that they entered our house safely, from as so many mothers did.
Noting their mother wasn't there, my mother smiled and, slowly, articuled, "Hi! How are you?"
Holly and Jeffrey ran shrieking down the driveway. My mother ran after them, also shrieking but in a rapturous delight.
And I was laughing too, partly from the humor of it, but also the
nervous empathy I felt for my friends, who didn't know there was no
reason to be terrified.