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Month of the Coyote

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It’s October. Tucked up in my bed, huddled under the blankets for warmth, I’m frozen. Mother says, “It’s too warm to turn the heat on!” but obviously there is something wrong with her because I swear I can see my breath. Outside, the wind grates against my windows like a dog begging to come in from the cold. I close my eyes tight, but then I hear it. The sound I’ve been waiting for all year.

It’s the month of the coyote. Fall is their favorite season. Waiting for sleep to embrace me each night, I anticipate their first lullaby to the moon. When I finally do hear them, thrill runs through my veins and I can’t help but creep out of bed and downstairs to the window in the kitchen. I can never see them in the tenebrous shadows that enshroud my yard and the woods beyond, but I know that the small dogs are out there. Their songs are a comfort to me, and often I am able to easily slip back into sleep…

It’s the month of candy mongers and cackling jack o’ lanterns. Children run up and down the street, cloaked in colorful cloth and sequins, begging for cavities. Before it’s even entirely dark outside, the first kids begin appearing at our front door.

“Trick or treat!”

All night I’m on candy patrol. Mother says, “You’re too old to be out there begging for candy,” but as kids from school come by, I begin to regret not making plans. Ghosts and vampires and ninjas float by my front door. The costumes begin to blur, I begin to forget who has already come by. I let my brother and his friends visit twice, plunging their hands deep into the paper bag containing of treasured Milky Ways and Tootsie Roll pops. “Take only two,” I say wearily, but I'm too bored to care.

At 8:30, Mother sticks her head in from the kitchen and says that I can turn off the front light. I close the door and lock it, flick off the lights in the living room, and pause for a moment to appreciate my brightly-lit street. Each house seems to be outfitted with better decorations than the one before it. Pumpkins gleam from every direction, tired beacons in a sea of darkness. I sigh and finally switch off the outside lights. In complete darkness, the pumpkins glow even brighter.

I join Mother in the kitchen for our usual hot apple cider after a successful night of candy-giving. My brother isn’t home yet. The house is peaceful as I sip my cider and don’t think of much. We don’t speak, Mother and I. We just enjoy the serenity of Halloween night.
Both of us are shaken from our apple-flavored trances when the door bell rings. For a moment, neither of us do anything.

“Didn’t you turn the light off like I asked?” Mother squawks.

Her shrill voice breaks the spell even more. Irked, I go to the front door, wondering how kids could misconstrue a blackened house. As I swing the door open, however, it is not trick-or-treaters that stand on my porch.

Instead, I see Jake Marley, from my English class. He lives down the street from me, but it’s still a strange sight to see the lanky, dark basketball player on my porch. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other and exhales deeply.

“Um…” I can’t think of anything to say.

“I, uh, have your coat. You left it in English last period on Friday.” Relief fills me as he holds up my black pea-coat, the one Mother bought for me last Christmas that cost a fortune. All weekend I’d been terrified of telling her that I’d lost it, so I’d remained silent in hopes of looking for it on Monday. Seeing Jake standing on my porch with my wayward coat, my dull evening dissolves.

“Thank you so much. I’ve been looking everywhere for it!” I blush, overly aware of everything around me. The few leaves left in the trees rush through my ears like the ocean and I feel dizzy, but in a good way.

“Uh, yeah, no problem. I’ll see you on Monday?” It’s a question more than anything. A question filled with hope and possibility. We look at each other and smile.

I can feel the heat blasting from my open front door as I stand on the porch, watching him dart across my yard. I grin a sticky-sweet smile and exhale. My breath comes out in a big puff. In the distance, the coyotes cheer.





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