The Girl with the Magical Mind

A while back, our ten year old son decided to forego trick-or-treating this year in order to hand out candy and scare the kids.  He wanted me to help decorate the porch, but I didn't feel like it.  So he put up spiderwebs and skeletons and mic-ed scary bird calls from our bird book and cranked up the haunted CD.  He dressed as a vampire and lay by the wicker basket in order to rise up just as the kids reached for the candy.  I was in a bad mood and wanted nothing to do with it, but spurred on by my son, dug through the costume bucket anyway and found a mask to cover my eyes and a devil's cap for my head.  I didn't want to talk to anyone, so with an eyeliner I stitched my mouth shut.  And then I sat on the porch in the orange plush lounge chair my husband recovered from the curb and stayed very still, not saying a word, which it turns out, is the scariest thing I could have done.

Girls from my son's class screamed.  Some kids wouldn't come onto the porch.  All regarded me from a distance with great suspicion.  Even my own daughters and their friends weren't daring enough to step onto the porch and ran off screaming.  Then there was M., a girl who lives near-by. Who are you? she asks, every time she sees me, genuinely interested to know.  It always throws me. Just saying my name doesn't seem to cover it, nor that I am a neighbor, nor that I am the mother of some kids at school, nor that I taught a yoga class that she briefly attended.  She always seems bemused by the world, a little confused and a little delighted and a lot curious.  Unlike the other children, she rushed towards our house, drawn in by that which scared the others.  As she took a piece of candy she smiled at my son and then stood, studying me.  She came very close, closer than even my husband dared, and looked me right in the eyes.  Then she put her thumbs up and said, "Nice job!"

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