Never Too Old for Halloween
"How do I look?" The faerie Acara turned around once for
everyone to see her shimmering violet costume and matching tiara before curtsying
as gracefully as she could.
"I think you look absolutely... erm, queenly,
Glitter," said her sister, a white Aisha perched on the sofa. "No, seriously,
I think you make a great Fyora."
Glitter smoothed out her skirts and flashed a
proud, somewhat vain smile. "Well, all you have to do is get yourself painted
blue and then we'll have a regular Jerdana in the family, Fluffy," she replied.
The Aisha shrugged in her colorful dress that
made anyone who stared at it hard enough blink at the clash of so many different
hues and played absently with her scepter. "I don't know... I mean, I've gone
as an island adventurer last year, and the Zafara Double Agent the year before
that... " She tossed the red and gold scepter upwards and caught it again, twirling
it like a baton.
The two girls heard an attempted evil laugh,
followed by a few coughing bouts. A Desert Ruki wrapped up in a long black cloak
stepped into the living room, hitching up his cloak and making sure he didn't
step on it.
"So, where's your Sloth wig?" asked Glitter.
"I'll wear it later on when we go trick-or-treating,"
said Angel. "But I might change my mind and go as King Skarl."
Fluffy snickered. "You'll need a lot of pillows
While Fluffy, Glitter and Angel discussed their
Halloween plans, a tall girl with long black hair and brown eyes behind glasses
passed them by, half-listening. She brushed off a bit of dust from her purple
blouse and glanced down at her blue skirt and amethyst-colored boots. Her arms
were full of black and orange streamers, and it didn't help that one of them
was already entangled in her hair and making it look as though she had tried
to color her hair orange and decided against it at the last minute.
One, two, three, she observed. Wait a second...
she had four pets.
Where was the fourth?
Kat scratched her head. It's not like Sweet
to miss trick-or-treating, she thought, exiting the living room and turning
towards the stairs, dumping the streamers messily at the bottom before climbing.
As she reached the top, she turned instantly
towards the corridor that branched off to all her pets' rooms, and saw that
one of the four doors was closed. Kat walked to the closed door and gently turned
the knob. Realizing that it was locked, she knocked three times, and waited
patiently, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet before the door opened.
"What do you want?" asked a striped Kacheek holding
the door open for his owner.
"Well... where do I start? In a while you and
your younger brother and sisters will be going trick-or-treating. Why don't
you come down now?"
Sweet paused for a moment, crinkling his brows.
"Umm," he began.
He didn't say anything, but just kept looking
down at his feet and biting his lower lip. Sweet reached out with a striped
paw and scratched the back of his neck.
"Do you want to talk about it inside?" asked
Kat, sensing that something was up.
"Don't you have to decorate the house or set
out candies for trick-or-treaters or something?"
"I want to know what's bothering you first,"
said the girl, stepping inside. "Because seeing you bothered bothers me." The
Kacheek pushed the door closed and bolted it before crossing the room to sit
beside Kat, who was already perched on his bed. Between them was a Lord Kass
costume spread on the bed.
She shifted on the bed, attempting to strike
up a conversation casually. "Isn't Halloween usually your favorite holiday of
the year? You always can't wait to run down the stairs in your costume, show
off and go off hunting for candy with your siblings. Now... well, you look less
than happy, and it didn't get any better when I mentioned you going trick-or-treating,
which you never miss. So... something seems to be eating you. What is it?"
"I don't know," said Sweet, lying back on his
bed and staring up at the ceiling instead of looking at Kat. "I guess..."
"No one's listening," The striped Kacheek's owner
even glanced at the door to make sure it was still locked, but dropped her voice
anyway. "You can tell me. It'll make you feel better."
"That's what you always say," grumbled Sweet,
talking to the ceiling.
She sighed and chuckled a little. "It's true.
And sometimes I have to remind you that it's true."
There was a short pause as the striped Kacheek
pondered her statement. He sat up and twiddled his fingers before saying, "I
don't know how to say it," he said slowly, "but... I think I'm already becoming
too old for Halloween."
For a moment Kat raised her eyebrows slightly,
as though she didn't believe him, as though she thought Sweet was just pulling
her leg. But if she had anything to say about it, she kept her mouth shut.
"No, really," he insisted, as if he had read
her mind. "Maybe I shouldn't be coming with Fluffy, Glitter and Angel this year...
or any other year after this, for that matter."
This time the girl couldn't control herself.
"What? Are you serious? You four have always gone together... and now..."
"I guess I don't see the point anymore," said
Sweet, toying with the left wing of his costume. "I don't see why we dress up
on Halloween just to get treats, or why it's such a big deal at all. I could
be doing something better on a night like this... like my homework, or..."
Kat held up her hand. "Maybe it's just for fun,"
she said. "I've seen pets older than you - and owners older than me - trick-or-treating
and not stopping to wonder why or what it has to do with Halloween, or what
Halloween is. Perhaps there's a much bigger reason behind it, hidden in some
book in our little library here. But no matter what that reason is, it's all
in fun. We all have to have fun sometimes, right? You can't just spend Halloween
cooped up in your room with your homework. Besides, you don't even have any
The striped Kacheek grinned sheepishly. "Oh,
yeah... but still, I just don't know what the whole point is. And if you're
going to say that it's the treats, I can buy my own candy from the marketplace
with my own allowance, and at least it is candy that I know I'll like.
"Tell them to go on ahead without me, Kat," he
continued. "I'll probably just stay here... find a book to read, polish my favorite
Scarab Ring, play with Apollo..."
He turned away from her and stared out his window,
into the night sky, where a full moon gazed down on the serene streets of Meridell,
the kingdom they called home. Kat took this as the end of their conversation
- for now - and decided to leave him with his thoughts. But as she left and
went down the stairs, hearing her other pets' raucous laughter, she couldn't
help but think, He's all grown up now... one day he's everyone's favorite
jester, always poking fun and jokes into everything, the next day the outspoken,
opinionated orator who decides that there is no point in his once-favorite holiday.
She reached the bottom of the staircase and gathered up her streamers again.
"Can we go now?" whined Angel. The Ruki had changed
from his Sloth costume to a Jacques getup. "I bet everyone else is coming out
"You might want those streamers up now, Kat,"
said Glitter, straightening the tiara on her head. "The trick-or-treaters might
start knocking sooner than you think!"
"Good point," was the nonchalant reply. "You
guys go on ahead... and remember, stick together, and don't go wandering off
to deserted streets or suspicious-looking houses or anything like that. And
don't start eating any candy yet, because I still have to pick out the pieces
that don't look... um, safe to eat. Remember that Poisonous Jelly-laced candy
apple Angel got last year? Grab your bags, and don't forget to say thank you
- see you later!"
"Wait!" exclaimed Angel. "What about Sweet? He
was supposed to be Lord Kass!"
Kat gritted her teeth and tried to think of a
good excuse. "He... he wasn't feeling well when I checked on him. He'll pass."
"Sweet never skips on Halloween," Fluffy pointed
out. "It won't be the same without him."
"But what can we do?" sighed her faerie Acara
sister. "Let's just bring him some of ours so he doesn't feel left out."
"There's a first time for everything, I guess,"
remarked Kat. "Just try to enjoy yourselves, and I'll deal with your big brother.
In just a few moments, Jerdana, Jacques and Fyora
were out the door, too excited to notice that Kat still had not decorated her
own Neohome for Halloween.
The girl smiled, disentangling the streamers
and getting ready to put them up, hoping to finish before anyone turned up at
She also made a mental note to check on Sweet
after getting things all set.
* * *
The striped Kacheek was lying on his bed again,
beside the Lord Kass costume he was supposed to wear. But he made no move to
get dressed, let alone sit up and look down at his younger siblings, mingling
with other costumed pets and owners. He shook his head and turned over as he
heard a knock.
Sweet stood up and opened the door, and saw Kat
standing in the doorway, wearing a flowing blue gown with transparent periwinkle
silk draping her shoulders, and sparkling blue mascara around her eyes. Her
feet were tucked into matching blue sandals with heels that stood a little over
three inches off the floor.
"You look... weird," he commented frankly.
"I know, I'm not sure if Psellia wears shoes
at all," said the girl, tossing back her black hair. "And yes, I also know that
she has blond hair."
"Still, you do look weird," He went back and
sat on his bed, reaching out for a comic book on his bedside table.
"And you look bored," Kat answered lightly. "Do
you want anything to do so you're not cooped up in your room all alone? I know
you don't want to go trick-or-treating, but this is a rather lonely way to spend
Sweet frowned thoughtfully, opening the comic
and turning the pages. "I'm too old for that kind of stuff, anyway," he said.
"I'll stay here."
Even though the striped Kacheek had already told
her that he wanted to stay in his room, Kat lingered in the doorway.
"I'll be downstairs if you change your mind,"
she said, walking away, tottering a bit because of the high-heeled sandals.
Once again, Sweet was left alone, perched on his bed and leafing through a comic
absently. After turning several pages, he closed it and left the comic book
on his bedside table again with a long sigh.
"I want to do something," he told Apollo, his
blue Angelpuss, who had been batting at a small ball all this time. "But what?"
* * *
"Kat... are you there?"
She shut the front door after giving away a few
chocolates to a group of pets who had come dressed as the Meridellian adventurers
and glanced at the stairs. The Kacheek was there, leaning against the banister.
"What's up?" she asked. "Change your mind?"
"Umm... no. I want to do something for Halloween
after all, but not trick-or-treating or any of that stuff I don't feel like
Setting the bowl of candy on the coffee table
in the living room, she watched as Sweet approached her, his face a mask of
"Like what? Maybe you would like to help me give
out the candies instead?"
Sweet thought for a moment. He hesitated at first.
"Doesn't that sound like a more grown-up thing
to do?" asked Kat, somewhat teasing him.
The Kacheek rolled his eyes at her pathetic attempts
to cheer him up. "Well... at least I have something else to do besides loll
"Older pets don't loll about," said Kat. "But
of course, you'll have to be in a costume."
Sweet's eyes grew wide, and he dithered. "Hold
on a sec... I thought I was only handing out goodies! I'm not going - "
"I know," she said, calming him down. Kneeling
down so she was facing him squarely, she said, "Listen, Sweet, yes, you're growing
up, but don't let that stop you from having a little fun every now and then.
Look at me... I know that I'm very nearly a grown-up myself, but I also know
when to stop for a while and just... fool around. And about you not seeing the
point in Halloween, you know, dressing up and trick-or-treating... sometimes
you don't have to see the point to know that it's fun."
Kat paused, watching the striped Kacheek fidget
on the spot.
"I guess I didn't make much sense, didn't I?"
she said jokingly.
"Sort of," replied Sweet, snickering.
"That's the spirit," said the girl approvingly.
"You don't have to be little, or to be trick-or-treating, to be enjoying Halloween.
You just have to learn how to let go of things once in a while."
"Can you let go of my arm right now?"
"Oh, right, sorry."