Charlotte’s Candy

Charlotte skipped ahead of the others in her pink ballet costume. She always wore something that related to ballet. Last year is was white leotards like she saw in Swan Lake. The year before that she wanted the costume from A Midsummer Nights Dream. She ended up with green and brown and a makeshift crown of branches and colorful leaves.

She stopped at the end of the walkway leading to the door and waited for the others. In her excitement she did tend to move ahead of the group but she was always patient enough not to rush to the door alone. As the other children approached her, she noticed that one of them seemed a little more real than the others. Perhaps she was imagining things because the street lights were coming on. The lights always played tricks on her eyes.

She shrugged her shoulders and continued up the walk to the door. The traditional phrase came with giggles of excitement as the home owners dropped fistfuls of candy into generic Halloween bags. As one, the children turned and made their way towards the next house.

And so it went throughout the subdivision. Charlotte and her group moved from house to house collecting the spoils of the holiday. There were a few houses where the lights were off and they passed by them without contempt. Usually those few were people that were either not home or didn’t celebrate with everyone else. Then they came to the last house on the last street on the farthest end of the subdivision.

The decorations were dramatic. Large overgrown ivy strangled the railroad tie pillars that lined the walkway. Spider webs spun by arachnids too large to be from earth stretched across the windows and from the trees to the pillars. Fog emanated from the porch, rolling down the steps towards the walkway, obscuring the path.

Charlotte waited for the inevitable howl of a wolf or the creaking of a door from some music file but they never came. There was only silence. Even the expected hooting of an owl was strangely absent. The quieter the scene the more chills Charlotte had running down her spine. She had waited for the others and began the walk up the path together. Half-way to the steps she looked back and found the others huddled together at the end. They were too scared to move any closer.

Charlotte found courage in their fear and took another step forward, then another until she was only a few steps away from the porch. She pointed her foot through the fog to find the first step, found it and repeated the process until she was at the top. The flickering light that looked like a Halloween decoration from the road turned out to be a light bulb that was half out if its socket. Undeterred, Charlotte rang the doorbell.

Something screamed.

A dog barked.

A door slammed.

Charlotte wanted to run but her feet were nailed to the porch. Her breathing increased with every heartbeat and she closed her eyes tight. She heard the door knob turning and the slow creaking of the strained hinges as the door opened. She could feel that there was someone there, not touching her but close. She dared not open her eyes. The hot breath of the person in front of her rushed up her tiny nostrils.

“Boo.” A voice said. Charlotte gasped and her eyes shot open. Standing in front of her was her school bus driver. She wasn’t wearing a costume. She didn’t wear a mask. In one hand she held an MP3 player and in the other she had a five gallon bucket of candy.

“Take what you want.” She told Charlotte. “You’re the only one who came to the door and didn’t run away.”

Charlotte smiled and turned towards the others. “Can they have some too?” She asked.

The bus driver shrugged. “If they help you carry the bucket home.” She said and smiled.

She watched as Charlotte the brave pink ballerina, and the rest struggled with the bucket of candy as they walked together up the street and around the corner. Just before Charlotte turned out of sight she stopped and looked back as the spooky house with the fog and spiderwebs and ivy. She smiled, proud of her bravery and because of it, proud to have the largest collection of candy of the whole neighborhood.

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