Dear Stephen King, I don’t like most of what you do. I’d apologize for telling you that, but I know you give zero damns if I like your work or not, and you write like hell itself couldn’t stop you anyway. That’s something I do like. When you visited my hometown in Montana this month on your book tour, the …
‘Tis the season – for pumpkins. Carving pumpkins is a long held American Halloween tradition that’s on par with, well, pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. For those not already familiar with our Story Shots as a series, Story Shots are short creative nonfiction pieces (generally but not always in the form of a story) in which our writers all write with the same theme in mind and come up with vastly different stories for your enjoyment.
In college, I squatted between classes into a miniature chair—knees crammed to chest—and faced seven pairs of eyes.
“Tummies touching the table, please,” I said in the only place I said words like “tummy.”
I let Kyndal start the bread basket and passed a bowl to CJ, his hair as orange as a clownfish, as orange as a corn snake.
“Teacher, I don’t want those,” he said with a fantastic lisp, eyeing the willowy vegetables. “I just want ranch.”
“Just take a look-at-it bite, bro.”
CJ took the tiniest carrot with a martyred frown and shoved the bowl to Frankie. She took five slender sticks and blinked with the narrow eyes of a Cabbage Patch doll.
“I like carrots,” she said in that pious way so absurd for a four-year-old.
“Good.” I spoke slowly. “Carrots are healthy for us. They are good for our eyes.”
“And even milk!” CJ said.
I rubbed his buzzed head, his hair as orange as the leaf pile outside, as orange as the carrots he hated.
“Yes, milk makes us healthy too.”
“When my mom eats carrots, she even sees in the dark!” he said.
“Oh, yeah?” I said anyway.
The wobbly rotation of dishes finished its first lap.
Frankie frowned. “I can’t see in the dark, even when I eat carrots.”
“But I see fog!”
“Well, that’s good.”
CJ’s meatball slipped from his fork and hit the floor with a splat. Goofy laughter erupted from the table, and every preschooler stabbed their own slippery globes of meat.
I put on my most dangerous Teacher Face before a dozen slick meatballs could fill the air.
“Hey! Where do our sillies belong?” They froze, rearranged their impish faces, and licked solemnly at the gravy instead, their round cheeks already smeared and brown as acorns. “Where, CJ?”
Sheepish, he pantomimed throwing something outside.
“Teacher, my sillies are in my pocket,” Frankie said and hugged my arm. I felt a rush of affection for her and kissed her forehead, bangs straight as a ruler.
“How’s that look-at-it bite coming?” I asked CJ. “What about what your mom can do?”
CJ pushed his carrot off his plate. Even his fingers were freckled. “I don’t want to eat a stupid carrot to see in the stupid dark.”
His head was so round, his hair was so orange, and he looked exactly like a pumpkin. I imagined lighting a candle in his mouth, flames shining out of his eyes so he could see in the stupid dark.
I bit my own orange, bendy vegetable. I didn’t like carrots either.
– Missy Lacock
With only two weeks left before Halloween, it’s time for people like me—people who can’t even decide what to eat for lunch, let alone who to dress up as on one night every year—to quit procrastinating and choose a costume.
As cosplayers can attest to, Halloween is the one time of year it’s socially acceptable for us book nerds to dress up as our favorite characters. For us to go beyond our imaginations and don a new personality and new look for a night. I scoured the Internet (a.k.a used my googling powers) to find some literary costumes for this week’s Literary Paraphernalia—for little ones and adults, from the highly-detailed to the seriously-lazy. It’s all here.
Alice in Wonderland
#1 Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Buy a small piece of red fabric, cut it into the shape of the letter “A,” and sew the letter onto your dress (preferably old and colonial looking). Wear a white apron and bonnet to complete the look. Oh, and make sure to look scorned. That’s important. If you’re pressed for time, you could just wear a giant letter “A” and skip the dress.
#2 Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
To dress up like the Girl on Fire, make sure to braid your hair into a long, single braid. If you don’t have long, dark hair, then you might have to buy a wig to do this. Find a bow, a mocking jay pin (they’re online everywhere), and some boots. Make sure to look like a complete bad ass the whole night.
#3 Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Find some temporary tattoos (at least one being a dragon, obviously) and place them all over your body. Throw in a leather jacket, combat boots, and a ton of piercings. Buy a black wig, and, well, just go crazy with the scissors. I don’t think you can really make Lisbeth’s hair any crazier than it already is.
#4 Tom Sawyer from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
To look like Tom Sawyer, buy a straw hat, a worn pair of leather shoes (or just go barefoot), and some overalls. Look through your garage for some leftover white paint (or buy some, if you’re that dedicated). Carry a bucket and a paint brush around with you. Make sure to pour some of the paint onto the bucket and paintbrush. Oh, and also trick all of your friends into doing your chores.
#5 Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Holden is easy. All you need is a red hunting hat, a houndstooth jacket, and a pack of cigarettes. Walk around the entire night calling everyone a phony.