We all convened upstairs, about twenty children lined at the door listening to orders about the proper trick-or-treating protocol, ranging from what candy to accept and discard, to interaction with strangers, and every other clich? after-school-special-style movie topic ever discussed. We were issued glowsticks that everyone hooked onto their costumes and baskets to hold the gratuitous amounts of candy that was to come. We informally split into age and interest groups, the older boys running outside as soon as they were able to and the girls howling when they were finally given the go ahead, leaving the throng of parents looking relieved to be free of their offspring for any amount of time, and me. A week ago I would have been joining them for drinks and discussion, but now I was an accessory, oblivious to them all.
“Didn’t feel like runnin’ with the big ones tonight, huh?” One of the men joked at me in a dreadfully fabricated high-pitched voice. I hinged my head slightly to the side to give the vibe of ignorance, and I seemed to have succeeded as the man merely gave me a polite tousle of the hair before leaving.
“There’s the troublemaker!” Pete joked loudly as he came through the door with a giggling Karen.
“That’s right, Todd! We heard all about your little meltdown in the playroom. Are you feeling better?”
It was remarkable that I had acted so inappropriately, and now to face the consequences with near impunity was novel to me. Neither of them even looked upset, but almost as if they colloquially rolled their eyes as if such behavior of mine was par for the course.
“It’s just us tonight, my man.” Pete continued, “the other candy hyenas left you behind.”
“Stop it, Peter! We’re just teasing Todd, we’re going to go at a more relaxed pace - at your pace! You ready?”
I nodded in agreement and we left the other adults to their wine and jubilance, stepping onto their stone pathway as a chilly autumn breeze tossed leaves across the asphalt driveway, scraping as they went by. I looked off into the cool horizon, the sun had fallen off but there was still an orange residual burning throughout the sky, streaked with deep hues of purple and navy in parts. We left the house of bustle and entered a fall evening of relative silence. There were children running around the sidewalks of the subdivision, but it was early yet for there to be a plethora of the more energetic crowd. It was mostly toddlers being pulled in wagons or the odd preschooler that hopped along with a family. I felt the spurts of wind brush back my hair and became almost transparent against the cooling air, as if I were just a partial component of the entirety of autumn. To try and describe the serenity is beyond my capability.
“OK, Todd, lead the way! Oops - wait, honey. I made you a fresh bottle before we left, let me know when you get thirsty, OK?”
Her words fell on indifferent ears. I was too engrossed in the moment of nature to respond, but I understood her words clearly. I wasn’t sure if I was thirsty. At the same time, though, I wasn’t sure of many things. I stared down the dimly let road of suburbia, a man and a woman on either side of me, at the land of the typical. The vanilla. Where lights went off at the same time every night and came on early the next day. You get the idea.
For so long I had tried to fight that medium. I made it a point to constantly go against the grain, to stand out, to be noticed, and now, looking at a row of houses nearly identical, I wanted nothing more than to fade away inside of one. I had little knowledge of what Peter and Karen were really up to in their partnership with Dr. Brooks. I didn’t really understand what Rebecca meant when she was talking about a potion or a vial or what have you. But, I was beginning to understand who I was, and what that person wanted.
“Kawen?” I asked. “Kai have my bottle now?”
“Of course,” she smiled, “of course.”
She handed it to me and we began our own path down the sidewalk. I wasn’t sure what lay beyond the houses waiting to see my pumpkin costume, and frankly, I didn’t care. I was completely content with taking a leisurely stroll on a crisp evening, one hand grasping onto one bigger, and the other bouncing playfully and grasping a bottle.
And so, we began.