December 16, 2019

No Place Like Home

posted on: Friday November 1, 2019

by Gabriela Baron ’20

“Do you remember what I told you?” Mom asked nervously.

“Get lost and walk alone?” I said, mocking her.

“Ella!”

“Mom, it’s going to be ok. Stop worrying. I’ll be with all my friends.”

It was my first time trick-or-treating without my parents. I was in sixth grade, and my mom and dad were finally letting me be independent! I mean I was 12, so I was practically an adult. I was going out with a big group of boys and girls in my grade (that was the only way they were allowing me to go). Christina was a witch, David was Harry Potter, Kevin and Adam were superheroes, Emily, Katie, Natalia, and Rebecca were characters from Winnie the Pooh, and I was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

“And don’t let this little stinker get loose either,” my mom said, petting my teacup Yorkie, Snickers. Snickers was dressed up as Toto, Dorothy’s little pup.

After another ten minutes of reminding me of the rules, my parents set me free. It was 9 p.m. The sky was gloomy, and the moon glared down at us. We made a few stops around the best houses in the neighborhood, and my pillowcase grew heavy with full-size candy bars.

“So, who wants to go to this place next?” David said, pointing to an old, wooden house in the distance. Its paint was stripped, and it looked naked without any shutters. “Definitely not one of the girls,” Kevin joked.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I called back.

“It means you girls will chicken out. There’s a creepy man who lives there all by himself. Rumor has it he hasn’t left the house in years,” Kevin replied.

“I also heard that anyone who goes to his house on Halloween never makes it back home,” David added.

“Well, I’ll prove you all wrong. Haven’t you guys watched Home Alone before? The scary next-door neighbor who was always shoveling snow ended up being a sweet, misunderstood father. I bet you this guy’s not bad and these stories are just mean lies,” I argued.

“I don’t think that’s good enough of a reas—” Katie started.

“Oh, please. It’s not a big deal. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

After walking with Snickers for what seemed like longer than I had predicted, we finally reached the front steps. I could feel my heart pounding. You can do this, Ella, you’re basically a teenager now, I told myself. I knocked on the door three times. No answer. I knocked another three times. I thought I heard a sound from within but figured it was all in my head. “C’mon, Snickers, there’s no ‘creepy man’ inside,” I said, walking back down the steps. I heard a door creak open.

“Hello?” said a shadowy figure in a low, raspy voice.

I looked back. “Oh, uh, trick or treat!” I said awkwardly. Snickers’s tail was between his legs.

“Are you here all alone, Dorothy?” The man peered his head out the door. He had beady eyes. I don’t think he ever blinked.

“No, my friends are close by!”

“Well, all the kids already took the candy that was out on the stoop. But I have an extra candy apple inside.” He smiled, showing yellow crooked teeth. He was looking down at my ruby red heels.

“Oh, that’s ok!” I laughed nervously.

“No, really, come on,” he said, motioning me in.

“I’m fine. Thanks anyways!” I turned back around.

“No, I think you should come inside!” He grabbed one of my braids. I struggled to break free. My friends were too far away to hear me shout. His other hand clutched my forearm, pulling me in. My ruby heels made a screeching noise, scraping against the floor. Snickers growled and lunged forward.

“Ow, what the!” The man screamed, letting go of my hair. His ankle was bleeding from the bite.

“C’mon, Toto, we’re going home!” I shouted, yanking on the leash.

Suddenly, spending Halloween with my parents didn’t seem so bad after all.

A spooky cartoon house in all black with red windows

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

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Halloween

Short Fiction