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February 4, 2005

Posted by anoddphrase in Uncategorized.

Angela Tse

Ms. Hendricks

Block C

September 26, 2004


Of Pumpkins and Princesses



            The frost coating the deadened leaves crunched beneath my high-topped feet.  The wet undersides of the brown, crinkled leaves slipped and slid against one another.  And I almost lost my balance, there, for a moment.  But swinging out one hand holding the plastic pumpkin basket and the other clutched around the pink, satiny hem of my gown, I managed to catch myself.

            ¡°Angie, are you okay?¡±

I glanced back at the concerned voice, with the light pink sweatshirt.  One I wouldn¡¯t have minded snuggling around right then, to ward off some of the biting autumn chill and burning leaf smell that hinted at giving way to an even colder winter.  But her arms were full, holding tight to yet another pumpkin¡ªbulbous with fluff and rosy around the cheeks.  Those arms always seemed to be busy these days, ever since that pumpkin came along.

            I twisted my face and hunched to avoid what seemed to be an arctic wind that swept through the yard, kicking up leaves in its wake and threatening the flickering lights within the scary-looking jack-o-lanterns set out on the porch.  He was almost three.  Wasn¡¯t that big enough to take care of himself, yet?

            ¡°I told you, you should¡¯ve brought along a coat, Angie.¡±

            I took care of myself when I was three, I thought grumpily, dropping the hem on the ground to reach over and rub the white fuzz of the turtleneck on my arms¡ªthe chill somehow leaking through, still.  David turned to look expectantly back at us, as he waited by the door, his black violin case in one hand, a plastic, orange pumpkin basket, the replica of mine in his other.

            ¡°The concert started five minutes ago,¡± he stated quietly and matter-of-factly, his voice altered slightly and nasally by the soft, plastic turtle nose tied to his real one.

            ¡°You know she always starts late,¡± my mom replied briskly, as she strode up from behind me, her longer legs quickly overtaking my shuffling steps, to jog up the stone steps of the semi-colonial house of David¡¯s violin teacher.  The quick motions had the pumpkin joggled slightly, but he gurgled good-naturedly with laughter, and the felt, green stem-hat slipped smoothly off his bowl-cut head, dropping like a weight to the stone path.  ¡°Angie, pick that up for me, would you,¡± she asked absently in more of a statement than a question, as she shifted the pumpkin weight to one arm and one hip as she leaned in to hit the doorbell.

            And apparently, at age six, I was beginning to have to take care of the little squash, as well, I thought morosely, as I bent to snatch up the green, stuffed thing, and trudge the rest of the way to the stone stoop.  The jagged, glowing grins of the jack-o-lanterns glared up at me there.  Fingering the hand-sewn seams of the hat, I wondered briefly whether I¡¯d be able to get away with lighting the thing on fire.  Burning up the hours my mother had spent squinting at the side of a sewing machine, cloth shucking out the machine and spilling onto her lap.  While I had sat, erstwhile, in a corner, rolling a ball of fluff in my hand, the pumpkin head seated next to me, wondering why it took a few green bills at the cash register for David and my costumes, but so much effort for this.

            The stemless pumpkin head turned over my mother¡¯s shoulder, flaring his pearly white, baby teeth at me, and opened his mouth, hiccoughing, an ¡°ang-ee¡± with drool.  I sighed and stepped forward, arms extended, having to make it on tip-toes to push the hat gently back on his head.

            ¡°C¡¯mon, Matthew,¡± my mother said in one of those annoying baby voices, she reserved for him.  ¡°Let¡¯s go to this Halloween bash.¡±




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