I strolled through the hallways with myfirst grade class preceding me. The wind licked my face as orange leavestumbled to the ground only to be stomped on by the small scoundrels infront of me. The day of our annual Halloween parade had finally arrived,and I, as always, dressed as the wise Merlin. The little onesmasqueraded in their costumes and giggled but teaching for close to 40years had taught me that there is always one child who is forgotten byhis peers. Today, that kid appeared to be Timothy.
Timothysauntered between his “friends” and me, a dark shadowcrossing his face.
“Why aren’t you walking with theothers?” I asked. His eyes cast downward at his no-longer-jollyjester shoes which showed no sign of their former happybounce.
Apparently Luis, Timothy’s best friend, hadgalloped off to the front of the line with his friends on their“noble steeds.” Since they considered themselves“venerable knights,” they had no place for Timothy in his“lowly” jester costume. Timothy fought back tears like achild deprived of his sweets. His friends will realize someday just howthoughtless their actions really are. Just as I learned many years ago...
“Hey, do you guys want to gotrick-or-treating with me?” my friend Steve asked. Prospects ofsweets excited us and we all decided to meet that night to collect candyfrom our neighbors.
Wrapped in childish excitement, I quicklydressed in my costume (the devil, of course) and grabbed my treat bag.Just then, my friend Mikey called and asked if I wanted to gotrick-or-treating with him.
“Naw, I’m going with myother friends. Sorry,” I casually responded.
Mikeywhispered, “Okay” and I forgot about it, candy taking up toomuch of my thoughts. My friends arrived and we left to capture ourtreats.
We had such a wonderful time, racing from door to door toget the candy gifts of our many friends and neighbors. Pumpkins forcedus to gaze in wonder, or shriek in surprise as we turned corners and sawtheir flickering smiles or wavering glares.
We screamed inunison, “Trick-or-treat!” and doors swung open. Smiling withglee, we stared as hands deposited candy in our bags. To ourdisappointment, every house seemed to bequeath us only small amounts ofcandy. How dare they treat us so insignificantly! Yet after 20 minuteswe had to heave our sacks on our backs to continue. The smell ofchocolate and other sweets wafted to our noses as we pushed on. It mustbe magic, we decided, how such small amounts added up to something sohuge.
We didn’t care about the weight and continuedcollecting more loot. I felt the warm fall air blowing into my face,causing my cape to billow in the wind. The laughter of other kids on thedark streets made me smirk with happiness. Another 20 minutes and ourbags were even larger. We thought this must truly be Heaven. So muchgiving and we needed only to be there to receive it.
On and on wetrudged, the heavy bags making it harder for us to press on. Thereremained one street - Mikey’s. His house loomed like a mightycliff against a shoreline, its frame outlined by the glowing full moon.Ringing the bell, we stood back and yelled “Trick-or-treat!”The door creaked open and my heart froze at the small figure of Casperthe Friendly Ghost, whom I knew all too well was Mikey. He reached outand placed candy in our bags.
“Why are you handing outcandy when you could be getting it?” I asked, confused. Tearstrickled down his cheeks, smudging his white face paint. He had no oneto go with, no one to share the night with. My offhand decision hadsentenced him to contribute to others’ candy bags and not receiveany. Yet surely it couldn’t have been my fault to cause him somuch sadness. I never intended to be mean, yet there he stood, lookingso unhappy.
“Thanks for the candy,” Steve joked.“See you later!” Without further adieu, we marched off,leaving a disheveled-looking Casper at the door.
Warm fall airgave way to a bitter wind and chills ran through my body. Treeswhispered and swung back and forth, daring me to take another step awayfrom Mikey’s house. Formerly friendly jack-o-lanterns mocked me;my guilt was indescribable.
My conscience would not allow me togo any further. I sprinted back to Mikey’s house and pounded onhis door, creating bangs like a bass drum from the underworld. Onceagain, the door creaked open.
“Go get a pillowcase,”I hollered. “Fast!” Mikey scampered to his bedroom andsnatched his pillowcase. No sooner had he told his mom that he wasleaving than he came back wearing a grin that did his Casper costumejustice. I tossed my bag into his house as we, together, raced aroundthe dark streets collecting candy to fill Mikey’s bag.
Streetlights highlighted our flight to find Mikey the candy hedeserved. Mikey’s turn had come to get what he had given me.Somewhere along the way, I lost my devil’s horns to a strongbreeze. My legs ached, I gasped for breath, and I knew I was in for itonce I got home and my mom saw me without my group of friends, but noneof that meant anything now.
“It’s okay,Tim, you can stick with me for now.” I leaned down and patted thesmall jester on the shoulder. It didn’t seem to help much, for afriend’s action always means more than a teacher’s. Still, Ilike to try as best I can to make others happy. “When you gotrick-or-treating, stop by my place and I’ll make sure that yourbag is full of your favorites.”
With a smile, theboy’s spirits lifted, and he marched in the parade with his headheld a bit higher. The onlookers shouted with joy at the procession anda chorus of laughter filled the air. The sun smiled in envy at our joyand the trees swayed with the laughter of the young ones.
Howfunny it is that the young can be so inconsiderate, though they alllearn, someday, that filling your own candy bag does not begin tocompare with filling everyone else’s.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.