By J. Deering
The wind blows dry maple leaves across the sidewalk in front of me. I wish I had something to cover my ears. They always sting when the wind blows.
It is twelve blocks down Tiger Lily St. to my house from school. This week I have seen a kitten in the bushes in Mrs. Berger’s yard. I have a piece of yarn in my pocket so I can play with her, if I see her today. She’s a black kitten with sweet little white paws, and her eyes are the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen.
Mrs. Berger has three boys. Two are older than me, but Kim is my age. He has a different teacher. There are four fourth grades at Benjamin Franklin Elementary.
I don’t like Kim. He sometimes pulls my hair or calls me “Haggy Maggie” or “Freckle Face,” at recess.
The little kitten sits under the bushes along the Berger’s side fence. The bushes are pretty, turning yellow and orange for Halloween. Wind swirls the leaves around and around and up.
“Here Kitty, Kitty,” I call from the sidewalk. I jiggle the yarn for her. The wind blows the yarn sideways.
The kitten sits under the bushes, looking at me. I look toward the Berger’s house, but can’t see anyone watching out the windows. I boldly walk up to the kitten and stoop down. The kitten jumps up to swat at the yarn. She meows softly and I pet her little head.
Mrs. Berger opens her front door and yells, “what are you doing in my yard?”
I stand up. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Berger, I should have asked first. I am playing with the kitten.”
“What kitten?” she snaps.
I look at the bushes. The kitten is gone. “She was here a minute ago.”
Mrs. Berger takes a deep breath. “You shouldn’t be here, go home!” She shuts the door and watches out the window to make sure I leave.
“Mrs. Berger is so mean, Mom,” I say. “She yelled at me for playing with a kitten that was in her yard.”
Mom just got home from work. She is a veterinarian’s assistant.
“Maggie, don’t go in people’s yards unless you’re invited and you ask me first, o.k.? Mrs. Berger is always cranky.”
“Do your homework on the table while I cook dinner,” says Mom.
“Friday is the Halloween party at school. We get to wear our costumes all day.”
“How fun!” says Mom. She already knows about the party, but I want to make sure she doesn’t forget.
“We’ll get up early on Friday,” says Mom. “I’ll put on your orange make-up and maybe we’ll do a little eyeliner too.”
Mom got me a candy corn costume last weekend. She had a coupon for the craft store. We also got a make-up kit and orange tights. My ears will be warm in the candy corn costume.
The next day is Thursday. My best friend, Abby Moss, is excited about her costume. She is going to be a fairy, with wings.
“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow, Abby. You’re going to look pretty.”
“The dress is all white and Mom is going to put glitter on my eyelids!”
“Cool! I’m just going to be orange.”
“Orange is great for Halloween. You’ll be the best candy at school. See you tomorrow,” says Abby. She gets into the line for kids whose parents pick them up from school.
I hurry along the sidewalk on Tiger Lily St. to my house. I slow down by the Berger’s house. The wind swirls around and up. Leaves get caught in my hair. The kitten is under the bushes, but I don’t go in the yard. “Hi, Kitty,” I say as I go by. I run the rest of the way home.
Friday morning I wake up before Mom comes to get me. I can’t sleep any more. I put on my orange tights and orange long sleeved T-shirt. I slip through the back of my candy corn costume. I have my regular shoes, but I don’t think it matters.
I pour some cereal and milk. Mom comes into the kitchen.
“Honey, you should have eaten before you put your costume on.”
“I’ll be careful,” I say.
“You have to brush your teeth before we put on your make-up,” says Mom.
After my teeth are brushed and Mom wipes my mouth, she puts my make-up on and smiles at me. “You look adorable, Honey. Let me take your picture.”
I smile for her phone camera.
“Here’s a bag of chocolate bars for your party,” says Mom. “You should wear a jacket over your costume.”
“O.k., Mom. See you after school.”
Abby’s costume is so pretty. It has sparkles on the tulle skirt and on the wings. Her mom put her hair up in a French roll and made her cheeks pink and put glitter on her eyelids.
At recess, some boys think it’s funny to tap me on my back and then run away so I can’t tell who did it.
For the party we play guessing games. Our teacher, Mr. Hardy, has a decorated box with little tickets inside. You have to reach inside for a ticket, and do a trick that the ticket says. And then you reach in the prize box.
My trick is to jump rope five times in a row. My prize is a Halloween coloring book.
“I’ll call you tomorrow, Maggie,” says Abby. “I’m going to ask my mom if you can stay over and go Trick-or-Treating with me.”
“Oh wow! That will be fun!” I say.
“Talk to you tomorrow,” says Abby.
I skip along the sidewalk in my costume. My knapsack is full of treats from the party. We have no homework for Halloween weekend.
When I get to the Berger’s house, the wind blows harder than ever and swirls around my legs. I have to squint my eyes and cover my face. The wind stops swirling around me. I open my eyes. There is a little girl, younger than me, sitting under the orange and yellow bushes, petting the kitten.
“Hello,” I say. “Is that your kitten?”
“Yes, Mommy doesn’t like her in the house, so we have to play outside.”
“Aren’t you cold?” I ask. The little girl is wearing a t-shirt and purple corduroy pants.
“Sox keeps me warm,” says the little girl.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Amy,” she says. “What’s your name?”
“Maggie,” I say. “Aren’t you afraid Mrs. Berger will make you leave her yard?”
“This is my yard,” says Amy.
“Oh,” I say, thinking that she’s not telling the truth. “How come you don’t go to school?”
“I’m in Kindiegarden. It’s in the morning.”
“Are you going to Trick-or-Treat tomorrow?”
“I don’t know,” says Amy. “Maybe my big brother will take me.”
“Your kitten is cute,” I say.
Amy smiles and pets the kitten.
“I have to get home. Maybe I’ll see you again,” I wave to her.
Amy waves back to me.
Saturday morning, Abby calls. “You are invited to stay overnight and go out for Trick-or-Treat! Come early so we can eat dinner first.”
“Let me ask my mom,” I say.
I tell Mom Abby’s plan.
“Ask Abby to let me talk to her mother,” she says.
When Mom finishes the call, she says she will be walking around with us for Trick-or-Treat.
“Goody Mom! I didn’t want to leave you home alone.”
“Well Babe, you know I’d be worried about you walking around after dark. It will be fun. I’m going to bring pasta salad to share for dinner.”
“They’ll love your pasta salad, Mom.”
After dinner, the four of us walk out into the clear chilly evening. Mr. Moss is going to follow along in his car, in case we get cold or tired.
After we have walked down several streets, we come to Tiger Lily St. Plenty of other kids are out on the streets. Most houses are lit up with Halloween decorations and pumpkins on the porches.
The Berger’s house is all dark, as if no one is home.
“Don’t go to houses with no lights,” says Mom.
As we get to the edge of the yard by the side fence, I see something glow under the bushes. A wind comes from that direction and swirls around us, leaves flying. Mrs. Moss and Mom’s hair blows around their heads and Abby’s tulle skirt flips up. Under the bushes sits Amy with her kitten.
“Hello, Amy,” I say.
Amy waves to me and I start to walk to her, but my mom grabs my arm.
“Where are you going?” she asks.
“To say hello to Amy and her kitten,” I say.
“Honey, I don’t see her,” says Mom.
“She’s right there, under the bushes,” I say.
Mrs. Moss suggests that everyone is cold. “Let’s go to our house and have a mug of hot apple cider,” she says. “After that we can walk a little more, if you still want to.”
“Yes,” says Mom. “I want to get out of this wind.”
Mrs. Moss pours the heated, spiced, apple cider into mugs that each have a cinnamon stick. Steam from the cider warms my cheeks.
“Thank you, Mrs. Moss. This is good,” I say.
“You’re welcome, Maggie,” she says.
Mrs. Moss has decorated her breakfast bar with jack o’lanterns and pretty garland. Abby and I decide we’d like to stay inside and watch a movie.
Mrs. Moss drives Mom home while Abby and I sort out all the goodies in our bags.
We watch “Nightmare Before Christmas” and go to sleep dreaming of the holidays to come.