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A Patch of Misfit Pumpkins
The day of the dead has arrived, and the air has never been more alive. Yellow light filters through the grins of fat pumpkins, their sides robust and full from a dinner of devious cheer. Children’s masks are images snapping in and out of the candle’s butter-colored spotlight, half-lit ovals of expression. Bags filled with the gold of childhood swig from arms cloaked in costume, a piece of rich chocolate or sweet bubblegum periodically popping out from their bloated seams.
Halloween has made his appearance, capturing the hearts of all with his tricks and treats. Ethereal spider webs spring up were his feet touch ground, ghosts nod their pale heads as he passes, and whatever he touches metaphors into a myriad of chewy gummy figures, solid chocolate blocks, or fluffy marshmallow cylinders. His sly smirk has cast a spell over all tonight, and the world is his playground.
However, there is one place Halloween’s spell cannot reach, and that is the deserted patch of misfit pumpkins. The twilight gloom drapes across the empty field, filling nooks and crannies with insubstantial shadows that cannot compete with the tangible pumpkins that once resided there. Only a ragtag cluster of pumpkins remains, a petulant defiance causing their stems to pop out in a pout.
Perri sits in the center of her orange brothers and sisters, her round belly scrunched up like a disobedient child’s glaring brow. The sting of rejection has been temporarily soothed by the short-term term balm of anger, and Perri simmers among the remaining vegetables.
Panda, a notorious gossip, made outrageous proclamations of her own superiority over the Halloween pumpkins, “I have more style than they’ll ever have-”
With her stem, Perri swatted at a lightning bug twinkling on her shoulder, its buzzing quite similar to Panda’s monologue.
“-look at me!” I have the latest from Orange to Fabulous! These orange highlights don’t come easy you know. I took their quiz-I was ‘ready to rock that Halloween porch’!”
Perri brought her stem down on the lightning bug on her shoulder; its buzzing, combined with Panda’s, was driving her insides rotten.
Splat. Florescent yellow dripped down her side, slowly fading away into the night. Panda’s soliloquy stuttered to a halt, just like an ancient train faltering and coming to a stuttering stop. Perri felt the hush creep into the group, settling in-between them; filling every nook and space until it was an omnipotent presence holding them all in its palms.
“I feel them!”
Panda rolled onto her side in fright, face planting into the dirt; highlights ruined. Perri was taken down with her; smacked over my Panda’s manicured stem. An odd little gourd with a corkscrew neck seemed to glow in the moonlight; its pastel green skin transforming to a pallid white.
“I am Garry Gourd, Genie of the patch. The spirits of our ancestors have awakened. Yes, the spirits are here!”
Perri had heard of this one. Garry the gourd was a peculiar little fellow; crazy by all accounts, but tonight, under the moonlight, his usually comical air was creeping under her skin; cold and full of shadows.
Rolling back up from her fall Perri said, “Garry! Quit being so scary; we aren’t celebrating Halloween remember? There’s no need for ghost stories.”
But it wasn’t Garry who answered young Perri. From the ground rose several specters. However, Perri quickly noticed that they were not pumpkins; Garry must’ve been wrong. Instead they were tins with orange-brown insides, outlined by a light tan crust.
“Ha! See Garry-those aren’t pumpkins they’re…..pies?” Panda’s voice rose in question, confusion evident in her expression.
“We are the pumpkin pies of Thanksgivings past, made from the misfit pumpkins of Halloween. We carry a warning for all who occupy this field; your fate will be the same as ours-doomed to become the food of the people you so wanted to please. Sugar will rub you raw, cinnamon will burn your sides, and the oven will roast your skin until you emerge; orange-brown.”
How horrible the pale forms seemed now that Perri knew their identity. She watched, frightened, as the sun’s yellow rays ripped through the floating pies in front of her, leaving only seams of mist, each miniscule droplet capturing the light and focusing each ray into a tiny blossom, no trace of the pumpkin pies haunting the skies.
Mutterings filtered through the silence, each pumpkin talking to their neighbor in muted tones matching the subdued dawn light. Then Garry spoke;
“ The ancestors have spoken. We must depart immediately.” And with that Garry the gourd, resident genie, rolled away. Perri watched as he grew smaller, her seeds and orange innards churning with indecision; a panicked feeling of fear for making the wrong decision clutching her stem. Garry grew smaller and smaller, until he was a green pinprick on the grassy hills rolling beyond the patch. Perri had to squint more and more to see him, straining at her spot, trying to follow his movements, until he morphed with the fields beyond, no longer separate. Garry’s disappearance set Perri into motion. She rolled at unimaginable speeds, skin bumping over pebbles and dirt, at one point flying through the air when the land dropped off suddenly into a steep descent.
Finally she spotted Garry’s signature corkscrew and met him mid roll, matching him spin for spin. Soon they were joined by Panda and together they set off into the world; two pumpkins and a crazy gourd.
A couple candy wrappers whisked in the breeze like the batter in a baker’s bowl, stirring round and round; they were all that remained of Halloween’s nighttime stroll. Perri, Garry, and Panda paid them no mind as they spun through the streets; Halloween was their past; their future, hopefully, would be anything but Thanksgiving dinner.