*This is like the first piece of fiction I’ve written in years. Hope you like it.*
Fake spiders lined the walls, the Beckerman family’s way of getting into the holiday spirit. This was really unsuccessful and rather than creating that frightening aura, it brought about that smell of the Halloween costume store–a plasticky, musty smell from a place that somehow manages to stay open 365 days a year despite having a month long busy season at best.
Andy ducked his head to avoid the fake spider webs as he entered the kitchen. He saw Mrs. Beckerman preparing cookies–store bought packaged Pillsbury types, with Frankensteins and witches printed somewhat colorfully on each one. A subpar design for a subpar cookie–again the Beckerman’s attempt to gain that holiday spirit.
He had his costume in hand, the Grinch, to match his girlfriend’s Cindy Lou Who; he wondered if his girlfriend’s suggestion to be this was a hint of what she thought of him, but he always over thought things.
He heard music coming from Andrea’s room, Dashboard Confessional, say what you will about the ridiculousness of dressing up in cutesy double date costumes, but Andrea and Allison’s musical tastes were always on point. They had all been brought together by going to shows and swapping cds. It was what made them–them.
Andy entered the room, he saw Mark sitting on Andrea’s bed flipping through pictures on her computer. Andrea was adjusting her costume, a goblin, though one that was only mildly scary, Halloween was not a day for completely de-beautifying, even if that was the whole point.
He looked right and there she was, Allison, sitting in Andrea’s overstuffed fluffy chair, halfway ready, her hair in her eyes. She shook her head gently, moving her hair the half-inch necessary to optimize her ability to see the Ipod she held in her hands without having to actually move the hair from her face. Her Ipod selection ability was always something he had admired about her, but now–
“What do you think?” Mark asked, pointing to his costume, black clothing with a hood and a slightly painted face.
“You’re looking so ghoulish,” Andy replied.
“That’s right! Ghouls and goblins! Perfect match!” Mark and Andrea’s themed costume wasn’t quite as elaborate–or as cutesy. Then again their flare was never for the dramatic; in the same way they never committed to things, they never were really into it like Andy and Allison were.
“Hey babe,” Allison smiled, a weak smile–it was hard to tell whether she was regrettably putting forth a lot of effort or was intentionally avoiding effort. Either way, her greeting was weak or worse, nonchalant.
“Hey,” Andy said as he sat next to Mark on the bed. Allison settled on a song, The Beatles.
“Psychedelic,” she said, “setting the mood for tonight.”
“I can’t believe we’re going trick or treating,” Mark threw this into the air, sensing the weird tension. “Last year people were telling me I was too old already.”
“We’re young, c’mon we’re dumb. Let’s get crazyyy,” Andrea was all for this–going into her ironically wild, except for not actually that ironic girl character.
“Eh you kids these days,” Mark responded, feigning wisdom in his 1940s Dad character, “ah boy I see guys running around in girl’s jeans. Can you believe it? The jeans of a woman!” Mark was always critical of the critical.
It was all very cute.
As they readied themselves, Allison sat on Andy’s lap–her face looking increasingly like a Whoville citizen, one of those happy-go-lucky Dr. Seuss characters who actually have beating hearts. As she came near, Andy’s heart beat increased–unlike holiday cheer, her presence could always get those emotions rolling.
They finished getting ready and got ready to leave. Mrs. Beckerman approached with a plate full of ‘goodies’, this time frosted cookies meant to look like eye balls–suburban life allows for such creativity.
They walked out ready for a night full of fun, Andy holding a plastic bag in his hand, ever aware of how false it all was.
Well that was it. It was done. Over.
The dripping of makeup down her face, smearing as she pulled away from him. She had asked for a Twix and he had replied how Twix sucks and she had slowed down and they stopped between two houses as Andrea and Mark walked ahead.
A Twix bar. A Grinch and a Who. The makeup ran down her face as she cried, telling him that it wasn’t working anymore. Any. More.
Anymore? The tearing apart of two people is sometimes the only thing that makes you feel. Andy had been sad. Of course he had been sad, life is sad. But now it was different. It was tragic. It was broken. Shredded. Instead of normal it was now torn at the seams.
“Things just aren’t right anymore–between us. It’s just, just, not right.”
Why is it in the most vital of moments that rhetoric chooses to collapse? Andy thought. He had always thought and never said. Even in this moment he kept his mouth shut. This may have bothered her but she had never said anything because they never said anything.
“I just can’t do it anymore, us, we’re not doing anything. We need to move on, to move somewhere.”
It’s always cliches in the tough circumstances. It’s like the creative part of the brain shuts off, reverting back to everything that’s been heard, repeated over and over. And here they stood between a house with flashing lights–a ‘spooky’ effect with no affect–and a house with dorky Jack o’ Lanterns carved by parents whose children could not actually do it themselves. It’s like the parents were using their children as catalysts for their own self-expression, this time it came in the form of a crappy pumpkin. Holiday spirit.
She was wearing a Who costume! Brightly colored, makeup-ed to accentuate those cheek bones, representing a character whose pureness of heart literally causes another character’s heart to burst because of their kindness. And he was the Grinch. And she had stomped it, leaving him to pick up the pieces between the kids waddling around in Scream and football player outfits.
In that moment there was no worse, more horrific person than Dr. Seuss.
Andy took a bite of his burrito, chicken with guac. Because when life sucks you pay extra for that guac.
He had actually gotten the burrito half-off. Chipotle’s special, wear foil on Halloween and half off a burrito. What a deal.
“How are you feeling?”
Again with the cliches.
It was his friend Thomas, five years older than himself and the one whom he texted straight away. Mark couldn’t do this. Mark looked at him with pain in his eyes, that insinuated he was sorry, but Mark wouldn’t be good in this moment; he would be terrible. It was unreasonable to ask him to leave, even if the festivities had taken a darker turn. But, this is Halloween.
Thomas had suggested Chipotle, after all there was a deal. Thomas wasn’t especially wise, but he was older and Andy always felt comforted in this.
“It feels weird, I don’t know what to do or feel” Andy replied.
“God man. That sucks. On Halloween? I guess holidays don’t make us immune from heart break. Or anything really.”
“Good point. Why does it make it feel worse?”
Thomas sighed, he thought for a second, “I guess cuz it’s supposed to be a celebration. A day that feels special. It’s just one of those things we look forward to. Those high points in the ups and downs of life. But I guess that’s an inconsistent view of life.”
Andy thought. What did he expect life to be? Or today to be?
False. That’s what he had expected. A sham of a day where people pretended to be scared of people pretending to do scary things. That’s what Halloween was right? Multiple layers of disguise, where we pretend to be what we think we should be pretending to be.
“How’s that burrito?” Thomas asked, breaking silence once again.
“It’s fine, I wish I would have gotten the pork over the chicken,” he took another bite.
“So… do you think you saw this coming? Like, were you expecting this?”
Andy thought about this. There were the passive aggressive text messages where they both acted like they were alright, with silent daggers hidden in every one. He could spend hours thinking about the meaning of each symbol she sent–and he, like a poet, constructed his texts to convey the most meaning in the fewest words possible.
That was love, doing the best you could not to fight with one another. Avoiding tension, smiling at one another, because having a girlfriend was fun right? But she had ended that. Allison pushed into that layer of truth and had ended it. She let all the air out and she hadn’t done it slowly either, just in one big pop. It was probably for the better, but screw her anyways.
“No man, I thought things were going great.”
“Wow, that sucks. What a heartbreaker.”
They finished their burritos and got up to leave. A family dressed as farmers took their place.
Andy walked out the door, smiled at the person walking in, and put on his mask.