Trick or treat.
Smell our feet.
Give us something good to eat.
Ms. Jenkins smirks, leaning against the door frame, eyes twinkling and red wine sloshing. “Why you little scamps.” She surveys our costumes. I bought the Spider man outfit last minute. Should have known not to pick a superhero—a villain is cooler. But mom was rushing me.
Treat: Don’t you boys look cute.
Trick: Aww, is this your little brother?
When Barry first sees me, he says, “You might want to stuff those tights, Spidey.” That’s what he says. My best friend, Barry, who I had to beg to go trick or treating for just one more year. But he shows up with a red bandana, looking just like “The Boss.”
“Aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating?” Ms. Jenkins asks.
“We still like getting candy.” Barry grins and flexes in his rolled-up denim shirt.
Ms. Jenkins lives alone now that her daughter Margaret is in college. “Well, all right then,” she says, grabbing an orange plastic tray filled with KitKats and Twizzlers. “You can take a handful.” I say “Happy Halloween” like an idiot. And Barry says, “Hope you have a good night.” He’s over six foot tall as a freshman and flirting with every female in reach.
“Trick or treat,” we say to the Bromsteins, who are friends with my grandparents and always come to the door together. And they smile and hand us a wooden bowl filled with Tootsie Rolls. And Mr. Bromstein starts singing “Spider-man, spider-man, does whatever a spider can.” And Mrs. Bromstein says, “Oh, put your mask on for us, Joe!”
Treat: No thanks. I only put my mask on for houses that give good candy.
Trick: I struggle to pull the polyester mask over my hair and instantly get claustrophobic and Mrs. Bromstein claps her hands and the Bromstein’s yappy dog goes nuts and I hear Barry laughing before he pats my head.
“Trick or treat,” we say over and over until our bags are heavier than they’ve ever been. We know all the best houses and grab as much candy as we can. My favorite part of every Halloween is the end of the night. Our debriefs and candy swaps. I’m looking forward to going back to my house, but then Barry asks if my sister will be there and I don’t want to go anymore and I say, “Let’s hit one more block.”
Eventually we’re at my door and Avery’s there in her crop top and sweats, and Barry says “Trick or Treat” and my sixteen-year-old grounded sister says “Trick.”
“Come on, Barry,” I say, grabbing his arm to pull him toward the stairs, but he hangs back. Hands me his candy.
Treat: “Time to divide the spoils,” I shout, sounding like my dorky dad, but Barry follows me upstairs to my room. Trick: I try again to get Barry to join me, but he just says “I’m good” never taking his eyes off my sister. I stare at the pile of candy spread out on my floor and wish everything didn’t always have to change.