elionwyr: (Default)
There - just over there - a creepy little voice tells stories that horrify/amuse/disturb me.

The weaver of the tales is nameless, genderless (though I confess I think in terms of she - she is a powerful writer) and with every entry I read, I feel my withered writing Muse come a little bit closer back to life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Closer to my ear, speaking from my not-entirely-electronic-world, whispers a Scheherazadian woman. Her posts dance between exotic fantasies and glimpses of real life, and I can't read her words without seeing her smile and joyful sparkling eyes.

She's one of the reasons I was inspired to join the contest.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Much, much further away there is a woman writing about her job. Her terrifying job. As a zookeeper, I have done things I never would have thought I was capable of doing. I thought I was confident, strident, capable. But I read this woman's blog and I know I'd run screaming from her work day every day.

I read, muttering i will not cry. i will be brave. i will not cry.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Before I joined LJ Idol, I had no idea how much writing was still happening in these blogs.

I could easily stretch this entry to include so many more names. That said..

[livejournal.com profile] alleyalligator, [livejournal.com profile] shadowwolf13, and [livejournal.com profile] basric are the ones that immediately come to mind as my personal inspiration.

..Thank you.
elionwyr: (barefoot)
how do you know?
you asked in the dark
after i'd closed
my eyes and leaped

i do
is what i murmured

but how?

how does my heart
fill the silence
with a thunder
echoing your own?

how does everything
hold its breath
awaiting yours?

how do you hold me
here, now, like this
as if we'd never stopped?

we never stopped
elionwyr: (Default)
"Now, stre-e-e-e-tch...and hold."

He did as he was told, back against a curved support, grumbling the whole time. "I don't understand why - "

She raised an eyebrow. "You said you wanted to join the circus, yes?"

"Yeah, but - "

"Then shut. Up."

She ignored the way his eyes watched her chest at every stolen opportunity. He should have been paying attention to other things, like her fingers weaving ropes against the skin of his wrists, like the pressure of the knots tying his hands to the metal over his head, until she pulled the cords tight and hard, and he gasped a curse.

"Hey, baby. Maybe we define 'circus' differently."

Her smiled didn't touch her eyes. "Of that, my love, I'm certain."

Bowed back and bound, he tried to flirt his way to safety. "So ya gonna have your way with me?"

"Oh, yes." She leaned over him. Her hair fell around them, a curtain, a wall, and her eyes were the only things he could see.

"How many women?" she whispered.

Unseen hands crushed his legs against more metal, lashing his ankles to that same continuous curve.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

Her expression didn't change. "There is always a witness." Pause. "Are you ready?"

"Bitch, you need to - this isn't funny, I - What the hell are they doing?!?"

She pulled away so he could see her helpers connecting a rod to something behind his back. He screamed, he pulled and thrashed as strangers' hands slipped the rod into the back hub of another wheel.

The carriage driver frowned. "He's thicker than the others. This is going to be a rougher ride."

"We'll get it right next time." She patted the screaming wheel's stomach. "And now? On, my love, with the show."

(This is another tale of my as-yet-unnamed circus performer)
elionwyr: (sailor)
I know you're talking.

What you're saying might even be important.

The politics of healthcare, laundry at home that needs folding, the senseless war in Afghanistan, what groceries we need to pick up.

I'm sorry. I don't really hear any of it.

I'm watching the way your mouth moves, fighting the urge to raise my hand and trace the lines of your lips. I'm looking at a vaguely hidden kiss, there - in the dimple as you smile, it's there - and it's mine, and I want to remind you that I've claimed it. My eyes are following the motion of your hands over the table, and I want them on me. I want them, now. I want you, now.

Your eyes narrow. Your talking pauses.

"You haven't heard a word I've said, have you?"

I smile, shrug, stand up; I lean across the table; I kiss you on the forehead.

"Tell me again. Later. Right now? Take me home."
elionwyr: (batlove)
..I'm not afraid
more than you think
of emptiness..

If you were to ask me which fictional character I related to the most out of any I'd encountered? For a very long time, the answer would have been, "The Phantom of the Opera." Too shy, too inexperienced, too tangled in the pressures put upon me as a child regarding my sexual preferences - oh god oh god what if I turned out to be gay? - I chose instead to bottle up my emotions and, like tortured Erik, look longingly at love from a distance, unsure how to not be a ghost.

And so I am a creature with a long history of fluttering at the edges of attraction.

..I feel you take me to the brink
of happiness..

He walks into the room wearing glasses and a suit.

I forget how to breathe.

He half-smiles at my reaction. "I don't get it," he confesses.

He has dressed for me, suspecting the way my heart would flutter; yet in the face of my inability to see anyone but him, he is almost frowning his confusion.

I look forward to showing him, in private, exactly how much I like that outfit.

"..Do you remember where we've been?
Will we end up finding somewhere to begin?

I place my hand along the side of his face, his cheek against the curve of my palm. "I'm allowed to do this."


I don't think he sees the ghost fluttering in my eyes, the tragic tortured phantom stepping off my internal stage, maybe for the last time.

Our lips touch in something more than a kiss.

..I know how to travel
and I know how to leave
maybe I ought to stay
until I'm home..

There was a time we seemed impossible. In the quirky twists of my inner time-scape, I may always be the woman longing for these moments - the woman reaching back through time to reassure my past-self that yes, this is your future - the woman celebrating a lifetime in his arms.

I touch his face again.

There aren't enough ways to say "I love you."

elionwyr: (bring it)
I died.

I died because I knew too much, and he pushed me, and I died.

That's a hard thing to forget.

You bit and pushed and pulled me back into something different. Something he didn't recognize. Something he can't destroy.

And oh, it was assuredly hell here. But everything - everything changes, Miss Kitty. I am once-dead proof.

What was half in me has become deliciously whole.

He won't know what hit him if he pushes me again.

Inspired by:
elionwyr: (Default)
Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time, the world was pure, and so were we. Or so says Lydia.

She touches my back - gently, reverently, as if the changes of my body were anything but repugnant - and she whispers stories to me.

"We are all gods, Lucia. Archetypes and prophets, we respect the patterns. Most of us never notice how we refract history.

"Most of us have forgotten." Leaning forward, her breath warms the bits of bone and feather extending from my shoulder blades. "Your body is remembering. You are so much more than human."

She rises from my bed, kisses my forehead, caresses my face. "Sleep now, my angel. Dream your memories."

I shift on the mattress - no position's truly comfortable anymore - and I watch her through silent tears.

Once Upon a Time, this could never have been my life. These wings, those voices, this woman...if I'm a god, how could I have wanted to create this?

I am so afraid to dream.
elionwyr: (Default)
Sticks and stones lay scattered across the altar-of-sorts that covers the top of my bureau.

They are treasures. If you know their stories.

This bit of charred wood, burnt from below by a fire never seen. We visited tragic Centralia in early winter. Smoke rose from the shriveled trees, from the mostly-condemned roads, and I rescued this scrap of bewildered plant life while my husband stood beside the car.

This bit of sparkly green rock, built from foreign sediment. The man my heart calls 'father' brought this back from the shores of Loch Ness. My child-self was ecstatic. Oh, Nessie, I still dream of finding you..

Here, a small round stone. A humble pebble. It arrived in a padded envelope, sent by a friend who plucked it from Hobbiton itself. I may be a homeless hobbit, but oh, here is a fragment of my fantasy ancestral home.

And there, a small padded stick - a drumstick mismatched to its accompanying bodhran. Adorned by a friend-no-longer with a unique design that blends Irish and Native American styles, the bodhran is tiny and remains unplayed. I'm unsure why the drumstick is here. I touch it, frown, move on.

My hand passes over fossils and bits of shining somethings until it reaches a quartz crystal. Fingers wrap around the stone's coolness, rubbing at its slight length-long flaw.

Last year, at this time, I slept with this crystal in my right hand nearly every night. Curled into a ball, I prayed in please...please let me not be wrong, please help me through this, please let him figure it out...

The history of our planet is written, in part, in its rocks and trees.

And the history of my heart is scattered here, in part, in this collection of sticks and stones.
elionwyr: (Default)
Even though only contestants can vote this week, I'm posting this as a reminder. :)

If you're a current contestant in LJ Idol...hey! Go vote!

My entry is here:

Voting info here:

There's no poll. You have to actually email your votes to Claude.

Deadline is THIS THURSDAY, Jan 13th.
elionwyr: (watch horror movies)
"They're saying you tried to kidnap our brother."

"..Wait, what?"

"When you took Charlie and me out to lunch and left a note saying we were with you and you'd bring us back later? Charlie was grounded. He didn't tell us. So now the family story is that you tried to kidnap him."

There was more to the conversation, I'm sure. But these are the only words I remember. These, and the words that echoed in my head.

I don't deserve to eat.

If the people that had raised me could create this sort of fiction surrounding my actions...well, my god. My god. What kind of person must I be?

None of it was, of course, logical. Welcome to the workings of a dysfunctional family, where logic is a mythical beast, and personal accountability is non-existent. I grew up apologizing for everything, anything, longing for approval, and ended up here, in a life those I raised could never relate to, still being blamed for things I had never, would never, have done.

I don't deserve to eat led to my starving myself - not to the point of anorexia, but definitely to the point of needing help to start to eat correctly again. And sometimes the feeling of being hungry is a sensation I still find oddly addictive, still find oddly deserving.

I can't say that, even now, well over a decade after the above phone call occurred, that there is not still a part of me which longs for my family's approval. Family is still my holy grail. But when I look over my familial history, this is the point that I know I made a decision that saved my life...because it was at this point that I realized I had to stop trying to be a part of my father's dysfunctional world.
elionwyr: (barefoot)
made of breath and skin

"I created you."

His back was turned towards me, his voice both conversational and shy.

My hand touched my throat. My mind touched a million scattered experiences that have conspired to form this version of me standing here, listening, forgetting to breathe.

He waited for a response I could not articulate, and then he continued. Other offered words - descriptors offered as definition - dreams given life by air moved across the room to enter into me.

I fell to a crouch, hands raised to his warmth. Oh, if he were to turn, to see me wanting to believe, my heart might shatter for its last time.

Through the prism of my eyes I saw him starting slowly to turn..

..And darkness falls.

I am frozen, a statue, a forgotten fantasy left in the greying of a vanishing dawn.

what next, my heart?

Do I step away, join the others, the forgotten dreams and playmates, the fantasies of monsters under the bed?

Do I stay, keeping faith?

o tell me what to do

There is a spiderweb of cracks across the surface of me. I touch them like a rosary, whispering prayers to every line. Shattered, not broken. Not yet. Created, real, still unclaimed. Not yet.

I fold into myself.

undone and waiting

And when there is nothing but stillness and night, when I have accepted and curled around this shining bit of light, when I have silently rewoven a semblance of sight...

There is a whisper of a knock at the door.

There is fragile promise of spring.

There is you.

o my heart

There stands you.
elionwyr: (write hard)
The newest voting poll for the writing thingala I'm doing is up.

My entry is here:

Voting happens here:

If you read my post and you liked it, I'd appreciate you taking a sec to make with the clickity and vote for me. :)
elionwyr: (watch horror movies)
"What do you MEAN I need to show you ID to get on the plane?!?!"

The flight attendant looked at me as if I was the most stupid person she'd ever seen. "Yes ma'am. I need to see a state-issued photo ID."

In the face of her determination, I did the only logical thing I could do.


Surprisingly, that worked.

Not surprisingly, this was pre-9/11.

Security - oh wait, I mistyped that. "Security" has tightened up since a few planes hit a few buildings and brought terrorism to America. Now, it may be true that I've since used crying to get on planes when the last name on my ticket didn't match the last name on my official-type ID, but there's no way to avoid going through the TSA luggage checks and scanners. Which should, in theory, keep us safer. Because they're all highly trained and know what sort of troublesome things to look for, yes?

Allow me to take you back to somewhere around 2006. It's March in Chicago. TransWorld, an annual haunted attraction trade show that always happens this time of year, is starting to close its doors. We've been hit by a snow storm,flights are delayed, and the airport is full of tired haunters who've been in town.

I rarely check luggage, choosing instead to cram as much as I possibly can into a carry-on suitcase. I know the rules for what you can put into your luggage. I've never been stopped or looked at twice.

Until now.

"WHAT is THAT?" I hear a screener yelp, staring at his monitor.


Several people pull my suitcase aside and unzip it, revealing a juicy looking skull snuggled in amongst my clothing. And all hell breaks loose.

Apparently exactly one person got the memo that the haunters were in town, as a single TSA employee remains calm and asks, "TransWorld?"

I nod. "If you look, it says, 'Made in China' on the back."

He nods back. "No problem," and declines to check.

Having ascertained that the skull belongs to one Mr. Bucky, a gentleman well-loved by the haunted attraction community, the TSA employees start to do schtick about my luggage.

"Man! She has my cousin's SKULL in her suitcase! Hahahahahahaha!"

It was at this point that I lost control of both my mind and my tongue.

"Would you like to lick it?"

The laughter stopped.

Four sets of eyes stared at me, stared at the skull in question, and - without any further words spoken - my suitcase was handed over to me.

And so, Gentle Readers, I offer you this opinion: If crying and offers of skull-licking can get you past airport security, we here in America have a travesty of a security system.
elionwyr: (instinct)
My sweetheart has proposed that instead of stuff-giving for $WINTERHOLIDAY, people should give experiences. His (rather sound) theory is that when you think of things that have mattered, experiences are what come to mind rather than trinkets.

I admit to having a great childish love of presents. But perhaps he has a point.

Several years ago, someone gifted me with a lovely suede purse. The front was decorated with a Celtic knotwork deer, beautifully crafted, and I would never have put that much money out for something for myself...but oh heavens, was it worth every penny.

It became my carrying vessel of choice, regardless of the occasion. And when I was hired to assist with a promotional event at a local mall, I grabbed my vaguely expensive bag on the way out the door.

Which sounds appropriate, until you consider that the event consisted of handling varied wild animals.

To be specific, our zoo had been tapped by Disney to provide critters for a TV personality to use during local appearances geared towards promoting his new television show. This was a great opportunity (as well as a novel one) and I was, frankly, thrilled to be a part of it.

The TV personality in question would do half hour shows, followed by a break of an hour or so. We would retreat to an unused store front, where our critters were being kept in varied carriers, until our next scheduled collective appearance. To reduce stress on the exotic animals we'd brought, we made sure no one was used twice in a row, and took advantage of those breaks to do spot cleaning as needed, or to give selective beasties a chance to get out of their carriers and exercise a little.

During one of those breaks, I succumbed to the siren call of the mall and asked my coworker if she minded me ducking out for a few minutes. "No problem," she replied, as she proceeded to open the door of a carrier containing an armadillo. "I'm just gonna let Armie stretch her legs."

"Sounds good!" I grabbed my wallet and stashed my much-loved purse in a corner of the room.

Perhaps you have not been up close and personal with an armadillo. She is a difficult creature with whom to have a warm fuzzy relationship. She's a prehistoric creature - apparently Evolution took one look at the armadillo and said, "Yeeah..I got nuffin." She has very little hair on her body, relying instead on her hard armor-like skin for protection. She doesn't see very well. She has less than impressive teeth. She has very sharp hard claws with which she tears apart whatever is keeping her from her chosen meal of bug, and she relies on her sense of smell more than sight to help her find her way. She has an odd vaguely musky sort of scent.

She's also lactose intolerant. Which, um, the zookeeping community didn't realize at the time this story took place. Which means milk products were a part of her daily diet.

(Yes, this is relevant.)

So Armie - a schnuffly, jumpy, powerful older lady - was given the run of the room for *just* long enough to decide that she needed to..well..do something secret.

In my suede purse.

I returned after a 15 minute absence to find a panic-stricken co-worker hiding something behind her back.
"Um. Hi. So...what did I miss?"

"I didn't know I didn't see what she was doing oh my God I'm so sorry I couldn't stop her maybe we can clean it I'm so so sorry..."

And she handed me my purse, artfully filled with something that is never, NEVER going to come out of suede.

So, Gentle Readers, yes, my very wise boyfriend has a point. When it comes to the things that have long-term value in our lives, it may indeed be that the experiences we give each other are more long-lasting, are worth more than the gifts we purchase and exchange (and may lose) with our loved ones.

elionwyr: (watch horror movies)
I am a haunter.

Since roughly 1993, I've been working in, on, and around haunted houses. More often than not, I'm one of the rare women on a build, which has instilled me a ridiculous amount of bravado. If the boys are doing it? By god, I will, too!

...Which is why I ended up eating a raw onion.

But. I digress.

The year was 2004. A hoard of haunters had descended upon Charlotte, NC to attend the first-ever Hauntcon. Sales were a little slow. Alcohol was flowing a little fast. And somewhere in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, some very silly people created a very silly 'secret society' called JENGA.

Ah, JENGA. Just Enough Nonsense to Get Attention...a humble goal, quickly achieved.

I was working for the convention and what little good sense I had told me to steer clear of JENGA. I knew a lot of the people involved - some were friends, some were past employers - but I wasn't there to party. I was there to work. And the person I was working for that weekend was less than amused by JENGA's antics.

Fortunately, some of those silly friends didn't care about my work ethic. One in particular, Liz, managed to hook her elbow in mine and walk me over to the foyer where the JENGA crowd was gathering the next night.

This isn't to say I didn't protest. Liz just didn't care. "It's fine. I promise. It's FINE."

"It looks like a frat party, Liz. I don't do crowds. I don't drink. I don't..."

"Trust me."

"Ummmm....dammit. Ok. What do I have to do?"

"Well, there's a small initiation..."

"Oh, HELL no."

"Shush! It's not so bad."

She sat me down with a handful of other initiates. I knew a few of them. And of course, they were all men.

I started considering my escape route.

And then one fellow stood up and started talking.

"Welcome to JENGA. Rule #1: You do NOT talk about JENGA. Rule #2: You Do! Not! talk about JENGA!" He laughed, and went on to talk about...well, frankly that whole part was a blur.

And then? There was an onion.

"OK! Here's what you have to do. You have to bite the onion and take a drink of alcohol. We'll give you a JENGA name. And then you're in."

Well. That sounded horrible then, and it sounds horrible now.

The first recruit took a huge bite of the onion, consuming half the dang thing in one crunch of his jaws. He immediately looked like he wanted to throw up. Someone handed him a bottle, instructing him to drink quickly. He did so, but it didn't look like it had helped very much.

And then it was my turn.

I cast a panicked look at Liz.

I took that onion in my hand.

I thought about all those men around me that had already done this.

I took a small cautious bite.

My bravado flared.

I said, "Oh, MAN, that's good!" And I took another small bite.

As the guys around me laughed, I took a hit of some vile liquor and forced myself to swallow as I handed the onion fragments to the next dubious-looking initiate.

That night won me the name of 'Two Scoops.' It won me some of the silliest nights I've spent with haunters. And to this day, every time I eat a bit of onion - cooked or raw - I always, always think about that ridiculous evening.

And it still makes me smile.
elionwyr: (delighted)
I don't know what I'm doing here.

I'm here because of a man, and a courtship that's hiccuped across the pages of my calendar. We've spent hours upon hours on the phone and in pixels, and exactly ten seconds alone in person. And there's no damned way I'm good enough for him. I've driven across three states to this inexpensive hotel room; I've fussed at my hair, pulled on a dress, and texted him to say, "Ok, this is as good as it gets. I'm ready."

I'm not. I'm so not. If someone were right now to offer me a transformative fix, I'd say 'yes' before the finished sentence had left her faery lips. But there is just me, caught in the mirror, hiding none of my doubt and terror.

Too late to run. He's at the door.

I ask him for a hug. He obliges. I stand shivering in his arms, surrounded by his strength, finally able to breathe. We leave in search of dinner and tea, talking about my trip, about his job, about our lives. I am hypnotized by his hands as they cut graceful lines through the air over his meal.

He catches me staring.

"I'm - I'm sorry. You're just so pretty," I stammer. Dammit. Why does anyone let me talk?

He smiles, changes the subject.

And later, back at my room, he takes my hands in his own. "Have I told you I'm really happy that you're here?"

"Well...not recently."

"I'm really happy you're here," he murmurs. And he kisses me.

There are kisses that are awkward, that mean nothing, that are forgettable.

There are kisses that change your world.

We kiss, and it's inconceivable that we have never kissed before.

We kiss, and it's as if we have been kissing each other for forever with a 40 year-long pause to breathe.

We kiss, and need no glass slipper to know that we are a perfect seamless fit.
elionwyr: (write hard)
This week's topic was, "What does narcissism have to do with me?"

My take on it is here:

If you liked it and would like to say so with a vote, scamper on over to..

(I'm in tribe 2, and goodness, there aren't many of us competing this week..! Eep.)

I'm dreadfully behind in reading, and I can't make a lot of recommendations yet, but I will be...so there will probably be another voting link. You are warned!
elionwyr: (watch horror movies)
At the end of every seven years,
We pay a tithe to Hell

I'd read the stories. I knew to resist sweets and sex.

Faeries can read, too, and they don't like how their tales have been told. Immortal and amoral, with an eternity to consider seduction, he found a way around the warnings to lay claim to my heart.

We became friends.

Maybe you have been spared the experience - the dazzling focus, the promise of importance. When a narcissist is courting you..oh, nothing could be more gradually addictive. And with his fingers in my hair, his laughter in my ears, it was no difficulty to leave my Lost Boys for the fantasies of pirates.

But faerie food does not feed you. Isolation does not nurture you. Living in a world created to feed another's ego, watching the yearly sacrifice...seven years is more than enough time to shake off the enchantment.

"I'm sure you saw this coming." Well, yes. And no - tragically, no. I stumbled back to the city, reconstructed an unenchanted life.

What does narcissism have to do with me?

Not a damned thing, anymore.
elionwyr: (write hard)
"This is a tooth from a carkano..um.."


I shot a look at my coworker. "I will never be able to say that. Spell it? Sure."

"And I probably couldn't spell it," he answered with a grin, referring to his profound dyslexia.

We were staffing a table at an event advertising varied local museums, their collections, and their programs. Most of my experience was with animals when they were still stinky. Fossils? Not even close to my strong point. But Jason had invited me to help out for the day, and I was always looking for one more opportunity to make some money.

I just hadn't thought through that would mean (a) talking to the public and (b) trying to pronounce 'kar-kara-daunt-o-saurus' all day.

"This is the tooth of a dinosaur whose name means 'shark-toothed dinosaur!" I announced to the next child to walk past our table.

Jason snickered.

"Fine. I give up. Where's the coprolite?"

Without making eye contact, he handed me an oval shaped rock. Fossilized poop has never stopped being a strange thing to me. Bones..claws..teeth..scutes..the possibility of those bits of once-living critters going through the alchemic process of becoming rock makes a mystical kind of sense to me. But..poop?

We live on a very strange planet.

"Can I make kids sniff it?"



I turned the coprolite over in my hand. This one was cylindrically shaped. I have no idea how anyone could have spotted this rock and said, "Why look, honey, it's dino poo!" But the analysis of coprolites reveals paleo diet. As the scientific world has undergone its own transformation from trophy hunting to a quest to understand environments that used to be, the question of who was eating what has gotten more complicated.

As a zookeeper, I frankly couldn't have cared less about dinosaurs..until I held that piece of coprolite in my hand and thought about what it really signified. Once Upon a Time, an impossibly large plant-eating animal devoured grasses we have never had a hope of seeing. That food fueled ancient life. And that body passed this waste onto a landscape long since resculpted into the world we know today.

This stone, that tooth, the cast of a skull grinning back at me from the table...this had been life. This had all been roaring, stinky, consuming life.

I touched the tooth again.

"Tell me again how to say it?"
elionwyr: (madam spooky)
In the basement of our house, my father had positioned his huge metal desk just outside my bedroom. I never saw him sit there. I have no idea where it came from. Grey and cold, it looked like something rescued from an office building's dumpster, though we never had a vehicle big enough to transport such a monstrosity home.

With a child's disregard for privacy, I sometimes rifled through the drawers. Nothing I found made much sense. A cheap plastic magnifying glass...a charm bracelet...a log book chronicling a short list of parachute jumps...none of these things had any obvious-to-me connection to the man who spent more time driving to and from his IT job in Philadelphia than he did with his family. And it never occurred to me to ask him to tell me his stories of the past.

The top of the desk was covered by a large piece of tempered glass, bordered along two edges with black and silver checkered tape. Underneath the glass - the thickest glass I'd ever seen - were photos and bits of paper. My memory has dismissed the recollection of all but two of those mementos.

Upstairs, in the stylish living room with the picture window, hung family and school portraits. But here, in the basement, where living was allowed to occur, were the images I assume my father held to be more precious. Younger versions of my brother and me, dressed in plastic Halloween costumes, stared at me from behind the glass. He was the cuter sibling. I was tousled, gap-toothed. We both looked startled by the camera.

Oh, and believe me when I say that describing what we wore as "costumes" is my being generous. This was the era of boxed Halloween outfits made of vinyl tunics and plastic masks. We were Mickey Mouse and Frankenstein; we were a princess and a cowboy. Heavy winter jackets hide the travesties of "costumes," perhaps helping to inspire those vaguely dismayed expressions.

These images of a discontinued life were the ones I looked at the most as a child. I've gotten better at hiding the layers of warm clothing under October's festive garb, and my father wouldn't recognize me as I prowl through haunted halls. And the secret I've never told anyone is that I think of those photographs a lot this time of year.

Halloween, horror, and my father comingle in my memories, and in those three little words...

"Trick or treat."

(eta: photographic evidence here.)

February 2017

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