Darryl stomps in and slams the front door. He throws his carving knife. Shouts he’s got nothing.
My sister Sandra’s Halloween party is in a week, and it’ll be his first time meeting everyone. Choosing the right pumpkin has made him edgy. Me, too.
I sent her a few pictures of Darryl and me. Nice photos of us: he had cut a friendly smile in the one he wore that day, and I looked cute. The sassy orange streak through my ponytail matched him.
“Lisa, what the hell?” she texted. “He has a pumpkin on his head.”
Knew that was coming. “Yup.”
“Is it his costume?” Sandra asked. “Why else would your guy be wearing a vegetable?”
Sandra needed to be corrected.
“A pumpkin is not a vegetable.” I’ve learned a lot from Darryl. “It’s a fruit.”
The ear holes and eye holes he makes are small, but they work. He’s overheard Mom on the phone telling me she hopes he’s better than my last boyfriend. He’s seen Sandra’s texts to me. “Like we all say, ‘Lisa sure can pick ‘em.’” Darryl isn’t sure about my family.
I want to go to the party as a couple. Need a theme for our costumes.
Blowing a heavy sigh out the mouth of his pumpkin, Darryl tries to squash the idea. “If I go, I’m going as myself.”
I ignore the “if I go” part, swat it away like a bug in the patch.
“So your family can look me over. Maybe even give me a squeeze or a thump.”
No surprise he puts it that way. Darryl’s the produce manager at Grocery Giant.
I’m a cashier there and we met in the break room. Loved his earthy brown eyes, sunny blond hair.
I try again about the costumes. “How about you be a mummy and I’ll be Nefertiti?”
“I don’t want to wear toilet paper.” Darryl’s voice is hollow, retreating. “It’s not me.”
On the big night, I’m a scratchy, fidgety wreck in an old red plaid shirt and ripped jeans stuffed with straw. I go as the scarecrow I am.
Darryl is in khakis and his best pumpkin, buffed to a shine. He’s cut a jack-o’-lantern face with triangular eyes and a simpleminded gap-tooth grin.
I gasp. It’s not him. There’s nothing simple about Darryl.
“So we’ll fit in,” he says. Deep inside the pumpkin, there’s a smile. “It’s Halloween, after all.”
Tears drip drop onto my straw.
Wedged between the washer and the cat's litter box, Karen Walker (she/her) writes fiction in a basement in Ontario, Canada. Her work has appeared in ReflexFiction, Sunspot Lit, Defenestration, Funny Pearls, Unstamatic, TheDisappointed Housewife, Blue Lake Review, Blank Spaces, The EkphrasticReview, and others.