By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
I wasn’t letting the ghosts in.
Nights devoured days; Halloween approached. It galloped through the toothy trees and roiled in the bloated sky.
I hoped no one would notice Halloween, and that my four sons and I could go for a hike, stay home in comfort and avoid diabetes. But the reminders were everywhere, from pumpkin chanties at school to roof-sized tarantulas around town.
Though I tried to distract him with lasagna, the Husband noticed on Oct. 30 that we hadn’t bought carving pumpkins.
“Come on, let’s go get some,” he said, slicing the air with his truck key.
“But I’ve just baked this lasagna,” I protested.
The husband lowered his key, fighting back drool. He eyed the cheesey dish. “Perfect,” he said finally. “This will give it just enough time to cool.”
We piled into the truck.
Walmart had no carving pumpkins, only tiny white cooking gourds.
“Let’s get ‘em,” said my middle-born son. “We’ll all make ghosts and undead albinos.”
I frowned at the clothing section, where a thousand Christmas sweaters puked glitter.
“No, we’re going to Smith’s,” said The Husband with a dad-nod.
We went to Smith’s. They didn’t have carving pumpkins either, but their cooking pumpkins were bigger, and orange.
The Husband sighed. “Don’t you have ANY large gourds back at the house?” he asked.
I bit my lip and thought of the warped spaghetti squash I had given, cackling, to the boys as a rifle target.
“No,” said I.
Meanwhile our four sons waddled through the fruit section, holding cooking pumpkins under their shirts and saying “LOOKOUT I’m havin’ a baby!”
I chased them around, hissing, “Absolutely not. NO fake births in the store.”
“These’ll work, Mom” piped the little, feisty twin, giving birth to a pumpkin. “We can turn ‘em into monsters.”
The four pumpkins rang up to $11. It was the cheapest Halloween since 1996, when I went as a corn-on-the-cob for the third year in a row.
Back at home, four boys wielded knives.
They scooped pumpkin brains out and plopped them onto newspapers outspread on our kitchen counter. I plunged my hands into the glop and squished the satiny seeds into a strainer.
Firstborn carved a gleeful Count Dracula.
Middleborn carved a pirate with Bell’s Palsy and one eye stitched shut with toothpicks. The big, sweet twin carved a possessed troll lolling a toothpick in its toothless mouth.
Little-Feisty also carved a pirate. This one had a jolly-roger flag pole goring his cranium and piercing his bared, lopsided gums.
I splashed cinnamon and nutmeg into their gaping faces. And into the pumpkins’ faces too.
After Big-Sweet helped himself to the matches and tried twice to burn the house down, I lit four candles inside the gourds. The Husband turned off the lights.
“Oooooooooh,” said the boys, marveling at their own artistic depravity.
Guttering shadows swept across the boys’ orange-lit faces. Warmth and the spiced, toasted essence of wasting rinds oozed into the hungry darkness, softening its edges.
I shut my eyes. Red whisps snaked across my eyelids.
We’ve got trolls, pirates and vampires. But in this fiery blackness with four gooey-fingered boys, no Halloween ghosts can reach me.