I sat alone in the garage of my house that night, huddled in the corner behind the car while the sun set outside. I could hear the doorbell from where I was, and the "trick or treat"s that followed suit from various children at the doorstep. I leaned against the wall, hugging at my knees and wondering if somewhere, right this moment, my real parents were huddled in the corners of their garages. Then again, they were adults, and kids didn't try to steal their gumballs. I was still small, so they always came after meespecially on Halloween.
"Why can't the boy just dress up as a ghost or something?" said my foster father. He brought up the idea to my foster mother every year since the incident when I was four, but she always refused. She said it was to protect me, that my head was too fragile at my young age, and that the children who tried stealing my gumballs on the holiday would know it was me no matter what disguise I wore. As I sat picking at cobwebs on the floor, I couldn't help but think that it was because they were somehow ashamed of me. I didn't have hair or skin like they did. But then again, they didn't have to take me in after finding me on the doorstep when I was a baby, so I guess that couldn't be it. Still, it was a thought.
I hated being different.
"Nah, he's not in his room," I heard some kids say from outside. "I just checked the window. He must be gone somewhere."
"Yeah, come on, let's go get some more chocolate before the folks find us."
Oh yeah, that's right. I used to hide in my room every Halloween until two years ago when they tried coming in through the windows. Last year I was in the attic, this year the garage. I wonder where I'll be next year.
The hours passed and slowly but surely, the doorbell stopped ringing, and the door to the kitchen opened soon after that. My dad stood in the doorframe smoking his pipe, a hand in the pocket of his trousers, and nodded toward the house.
"Come on in, Benny. Let's make some popcorn and watch a movie."
I took hold of the blanket I had wrapped around my shoulders and held it up like a cape while I ran, or rather flew as I wished to believe, to hug him around the legs. He pet me on the back of my head and walked me inside to the couch where Mom was waiting. H sat me between them in the middle, pressing play on the remote control, and I sank in the big cushions, the popcorn bowl twice my size on my lap. I could barely see over the mounds of the buttery bits, but my dad likes big handfuls, so I could see just fine by the time the opening credits ended.
Just as the movie started going, there came one last knock at the door. My mother looked worried, but my dad reassured her with a held up hand that everything would be finethat they were both there and nothing would happen to me. Still, I scooted closer to my mom and hugged her tight around the waist while Dad answered the door.
"Trick or treat," came the most colorful voice I'd ever heard. It wasn't that of a kid, and it wasn't quite adult yet either. I was curious, so I crawled away from my mom to the end of the couch to look over at the front door.
Standing there with my dad was the biggest lollipop I'd ever seen. He wore a nice set of clothes and a top hat and everything I'd seen in my picture books of far away places. He had a bag full of lollipops with him that he gave to my confused dad.
"Enjoy the candy. Happy Halloween," he said with a delightful giggle.
"But, we're supposed to give you candy..." my dad trailed off.
"Why would I come to your door wanting candy? No sir, this is a giving holiday. So I give you treats when I ring your doorbell!"
By this time I had slipped away from my spot on the couch and ran over to hug my dad's legs. I hid behind him shyly as I stared up at the man with the bag of lollipops. He noticed.
"Oh, who is this?"
"This is my son, Benson. Say hi, Benson."
I dug my head on the back of his kneecap, shaking my head.
"Well then, trick or treat, Benson!" He knelt down to my level and handed to me a large butterscotch lollipop with swirls of vanilla on the inside. I didn't hesitate before taking it in my hands and holding it close to my body, just in case he changed his mind and wanted it back.
"What do you say, Benson?" my dad asked.
"Th...ank you..." I managed.
The stranger rubbed my head. "Anytime. You have a wonderful holiday! I have more houses to give candy too, so ta-ta!"
And before I knew it he was gone, and the door was shut once again. My dad walked me back over to the couch and lifted me back into my seat, shrugging to my mother as to what just happened. While the movie played and the two of them settled in beside me, I finally got to enjoy my first piece of Halloween candy.
And I loved it.