In honor of Halloween, I thought I would share AMY’s Halloween at Age Sixteen originally posted on the Halloween Character Booktacular!
The guys were waiting for us in the street in front of Lila’s house. They looked like variations on the same theme, clothes that hung on their scarecrow bodies, hair that was too long to be accidental. Even though it was Halloween they weren’t wearing costumes, like most things they were supposed to do, they couldn’t care less.
Of course, I wasn’t wearing a costume either, but only because Lila and Cassie told me not to. Well really Lila said, you’ll look like a total loser, Amy, I mean we’re sixteen, and Cassie said she’d take my costume and shove it somewhere it would take me twenty Halloweens to find.
Chris was the tallest and seemed the least interested in what was going on, his brown hair falling in his face as he kicked at the ground like a stubborn horse. Kyle smiled when he saw us, smoke leaking through the gaps in his teeth, his black hair reflecting the purple of the night sky.
“They’re here dick wad,” Kyle said turning to Nick who was pissing in the bushes.
I could see the small moon white sliver of Nick’s underwear as he pulled up his jeans. He put his hands through his blonde hair and turned to us. He was the guy meant for me. It was pretty clear what we were supposed to being doing together that night, considering I’d seen his underwear before we even met.
“Way to keep us waiting,” Lila said, cuddling up to Kyle, her small strawberry-shaped face fitting perfectly in the crook of his neck.
“You know we can’t go to the cemetery before midnight on Halloween,” he said. This was a rule they felt like following. Being on time and wearing costumes was not.
Yes, cemetery. On Halloween we were going to a cemetery at midnight—cue the scary pipe organ music.
“That’s a fucking lame excuse, even for you,” Cassie said, she walked over to Chris. She was almost as tall as he was and just as thin, like a paper cut of a person.
Nick turned to me and moved his chin in a what’s up. There were three of us and three of them, I was the only one who hadn’t yet been claimed, even someone in remedial algebra could figure out what this meant. Of course some words, a hello would have been nice too.
We walked in a gangly clump down the street, the guys in front, we trailing behind like pebbles they kicked up.
There was one cemetery in our town and it bordered the back end of our school grounds like a moat. Kids used it to party a lot, but before I met Lila and Cassie I didn’t party so I’d never been there. I guess it was viewed as a really good place to be left alone. No one cares about you when you’re dead and no one cares about you when you’re a teenager.
I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t scared as we made our way through the hole in the chain-link-fence, the metal sharp around it like skinny, razor teeth. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a cemetery anyway, but on Halloween night that feeling was multiplied by old crusty bones in the shape of x’s and zombies in the shape of numbers.
“You okay,” Nick asked, putting his arm around me. This close I could see his eyes were beer-bottle brown. He was talking. We were beyond chin flicks and grunts. That was progress.
I snuggled in. Maybe it was good he wasn’t much of a talker because I had no idea what to say, other than yes. I heard Lila laughing as Kyle led her away behind a mausoleum. We’d lost Cassie and Chris a long time ago.
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” he whispered, a laugh in his voice.
This was all new to me. Boys, a cemetery, being out of my very pink room at midnight and so I was flattered to have someone who wanted to protect me. I let myself believe it. Certainly he could protect me from ghosts and werewolves and moaning mummies. But even that night I knew he couldn’t protect me from anything in the real world. No matter how cool I thought he was, or how cool he thought he was, life was just outside this place.
Here in the night we were free from the never-ending normalcy of it. Homework doing and dishwasher emptying and everydayness and what the hell we were meant to do with it becoming noiseless whispers when we were faced with the death that bordered our high school, squeezed at it like a clutching fist.
We walked past a row of high obelisk stones set up like a giant chess game, stones flat to the ground like fallen dominoes, stones popping out of the soil like vegetables in a garden. Luckily, we didn’t have to walk too far into the cemetery before Nick sat down. I was thankful, the further we walked in, the harder it would be for us to get out if someone, or something started chasing us.
We sat side by side on the grass in front of a huge oak tree with a trunk as thick as an elephant’s leg.
I knew he was going to kiss me and I sat silently waiting for it, licking my lips and feeling the cold air hit them. I tasted the candy corn I’d eaten earlier, that I’d made fangs with in Lila’s room.
He put his hand on my chin softly and tipped my head toward his, “Are you afraid of the dark?” he asked.
“No,” I said so quiet it was barely a word.
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked.
“Depends,” I said, sucking in a breath to try and fight my nerves. This was the talking I didn’t want. It was the chance I could make a total fool out of myself in any number of humiliating ways. If he just kissed me, if we just started making out there was only one way I could make a fool out of myself.
“How about now?” he said, kissing one cheek then the other.
I felt heat flicker up from chin to forehead. “No,” I managed to croak out. His lips so close to mine, made me want him in a way I hadn’t ever felt before. Did he know what he was doing?
Did I know what I was doing?
If a ghost came and ruined this I was going to be so pissed off.
He leaned in and kissed me, my cold lips going warm. I tasted the sweetness of the candy corn, the smoke on his breath. He pushed my back against the tree, but I couldn’t feel the rough bark. All I could feel was him, me, here.
We made out under the stars on the sleeping grass, surrounded by tombstones that were stars themselves. Burning out of control as we kissed and groped above people who horror movies had taught us were surely groping too, trying to experience the life our bodies controlled in that night.
Life through the feel of a tongue and a hand and a breath, through the goose bump tickle of grass at our necks and the hum of mosquitoes in our ears.
The cold stone that represented life in that place, making us feel even more alive.