Mischief Night

Sprinkle some fairy dust in your hair, Tinker Bell!

Strap that latex headband on snug, Superwoman!

Click-clack your shiny, new shoes, Dorothy!

And, get your hat on straight, Cowgirl!

It’s Halloween!

 

She grins brightly, parades her costume politely in circles around the school parking

lot —

Innocence is a blind spot.

At night she runs from house to house and

knocks on pumpkin’d front doors holding out her

hand to reap more.

 

Her legs never tire.

No matter the number of lawns she traverses, she still rehearses, “Trick or treat!”

Pitch-perfect.

 

A candy-corn witch stands on tip-toe, sweets just under her nose.

Gumdrops, lollipops, lemon tops —

“Just take one.”

She obeys. She obeys. She obeys.

 

October 31st: a high-schooler who once dressed as the princess Cinderella now confesses

that she’d rather be a sexy school girl.

She feels their attention on her body,

like rough, roving hands.

Who could ever blame them?

Apprehension creeping in that

teachers have branded her a class distraction.

But, that’s her fault.

 

Her body. Their body. Her body. Their body. Her body.

Like a boomerang.

The clothes stick to her like a soaking reminder:

Don’t dress like a school slut and you won’t

be treated like one.

 

Fast forward four years: now dressed as a skeleton,

she waits for a text in tight spandex

from an old flame gone boozing a party apart.

It comes, eventually, two hours later: an intoxicated

“Come on, just one more bone”.

 

Through the screen, she hears the vulgar scratch of his voice,

a faint reality hidden behind his pun of choice.

So she chokes back the

tears then pretends at rejoice.

Her friends, a gathered audience, watch on—

laughing must mean good, must mean happy.

 

But, abuse is not flirty, not funny, not happy.

Abuse is a shackle, screwed tight by the bruise

of nights upon nights filled with more than just booze.

 

Halloween for her used to mean anything, everything she wanted to be—

a princess, superheroine, fairy, cowgirl.

A time when life’s promising did not cling to her dreams and

use her as a bargaining chip for sexual harassment,

wringing her imagination.

Because now all that society’s left is

self-depreciation.

 

Answer this: what’s the difference between ‘boo’ and “Boo!”

One’s a child, the other’s a trick.