All that’s left of Halloween here in North America is to clean up the smashed pumpkins and tuck away the leftover candy before you can eat it all. I wanted to share one of my submissions to JD Mader’s Two-minute Flash Fiction. A little treat that won’t send you to the dentist. Happy November!
The New Girl
“Shut up.” The guys from the neighborhood just laughed louder. “I said, shut up.” Harry refused to listen to their lies about the new girl, Sheila, who’d moved into the Millers’ house. They said she was weird, and not really a girl, since she didn’t have a mother. They said she was a dyke, which made him want to hit something. He couldn’t tell them, because they’d never stop harassing him about it, but he thought she was kind of cute. The way she sat at her desk and chewed on her pen. The way her socks kept sliding below her knees and, with an adorable little frown, she’d hitch them back up.
“You ring the bell, since you love her so much,” one of the guys said, pushing him forward once they’d reached the house.
“Quit it, asshole.” Harry almost beat him with his pillowcase full of candy. Which was getting pretty heavy, since they were almost done with the neighborhood. But he sucked in a deep breath, because there was no backing down now, and strode to the doorbell.
A man answered, the father, Harry surmised, and he reached for a plastic bowl full of candy. Harry peered inside the house, curious to know what it looked like. What Sheila’s life looked like. He thought he saw two green legs scurrying in a room in the back and realized she was there, dressed up as Robin Hood. He grinned. It was a pretty sweet costume, and it suited her, or what he knew of her. But he hadn’t seen her trick-or-treating before.
The man looked over his shoulder, as if he wanted to know what Harry was staring at. He grinned. “Shellybean, you want to help with the candy?”
She looked like she wanted to drop through a hole in the floor. Harry might have been a little freaked about that, too, if his dad had called him to the door to hand out candy bars to a group of girls. But she merely nodded and said, “Sure, give me a sec.”
Harry thought he saw her grab a red flash of something from the counter and hide it in her palm. Then she came to the door, and looking very serious and a tiny bit scared, perhaps, from the tightening of her mouth and the faint blush creeping out from behind her mask, dropped a few candy bars in each of their bags. Before he knew it, the door closed and the guys were tugging on his elbow, off to the next house, calling him names for not reacting fast enough, talking about how weird that new girl seemed, talking smack that her legs looked fat and she made a stupid Robin Hood and should have been Friar Tuck instead. He punched the first arm he could reach.
Finally, back home, he spilled his bounty onto his bed, intent on sorting out the good from the meh so he could hide the best stuff from his older sisters. Then, underneath a pile of M&M packets and Mars bars, a little red bag winked at him. His heart thudded faster and he felt a flush run up his cheeks. He opened it. Inside was a note: “Look out the window.”
Quickly he shoved all the candy back into the bag and stowed the sack beneath his bed. He pulled back the curtain. Robin Hood smiled.