It's Kelly's birthday, and she's going to a Halloween party
|It's the local Halloween celebrations. Where is your character and what do they get into?
“Come on, Kelly!”
My best friend Grace stomped a petite foot, the wooden arrows in the quiver slung across her back clattering against one another. Of course she’d dressed as Merida for Halloween. We’d joked when Brave came out that they’d used her as the model for the main character. This was her third year using the costume.
“Help me adjust my wings?” I turned my back to her, shaking my shoulders as I adjusted the goggles resting against my collarbone.
“This is your craziest fairy costume yet,” she told me as she tugged at the laces holding my metal veined wings in place. I tweaked the short green scarf skirt to make sure everything was in place, and gave the bodice a good tug.
I grinned. “Steampunk is quirky. I love it. Okay, I’m ready.” It was my birthday, it was Topher’s Halloween party, and it was going to be the best night ever!
We headed up the driveway, following the voices and music through the gate into the backyard. Our friend spotted us right away and ran over to greet us, the cape of his Robin costume flapping behind him.
“Welcome to a world of magic and mystery, ladies! Let me see your costumes. Grace . . . Merida again? You need to just change your name, honey. Oooh, Kelly! I love those wings. Come on back.”
Orange luminaries with jack o’lantern faces lined the inlaid stone path to the patio, where a group of kids clustered around a black crepe draped table featuring a large black cauldron sitting atop some cleverly disguised dry ice.
“Try the potion, but don’t forget to do your skit ideas!” Topher left with a quick hand wave, running to greet more guests.
We decided to bypass the potion and headed straight for the table near the pool, where Topher had set up chalices for our skit ideas. Most of the kids would remember the rules from previous years, but our host left nothing to chance.
Greetings, ghosts and guests! Skit rules are as follows:
Your costume is your character
We will split into four groups at 9 PM
Each group will have one half hour to create their skit
Please put a story idea into each of the chalices
Each person will pick ONE character twist
Each team will pick ONE plot, ONE setting, and ONE plot twist
The four chalices were arranged with tent cards in front of them, letting us know which story idea to add to which cup. Strips of paper and pencils lay spread across the table. Grace and I each scribbled our ideas onto the papers and stuffed them into the half full chalices.
“I wonder if Liam will show up,” Grace said as we scanned the growing crowd milling around the large yard.
I laughed. “Like you gave him much of a choice. Poor guy. First day at our school and you’re strong-arming him. If you’re not careful he might get the idea that you’re after him.”
“Well, I . . . ohmygod, Kelly. Don’t look, okay. Just come with me.” She tried to tug me away, but I twisted around and saw what had made her go pale beneath her freckles.
My heart sunk, and I felt lightheaded. I didn’t know what to do. “Grace.” I grabbed her arm and she led me down a gravel path near the rear of the yard. The path led to a bench which was partially obscured by rose bushes. But I could hear a few hoots of laughter mixed in with the angry voices. The scent of the flowers was making me nauseous.
“Wade is an ass,” she said.
“Yeah, but why would he do that?” A tear slid down my cheek and I brushed it away.
Wade Cortland teetered into view on stiletto heels, a gaudy studded purse hanging off of one arm. Other than those two accessories, he was dressed exactly as I had been for school earlier that day - cream camisole top with a pink infinity scarf, over a black pleated mini skirt. A long, auburn wig was the confirmation that he wasn’t just dressed in costume. He was dressed as me.
Topher ran up to him, pointing toward the exit. I could hear his shrill voice from across the yard. “Get out!” He looked around. “Anyone else think this is funny? You’re welcome to leave as well.” He stood with arms crossed until Wade and a few of his friends stumbled drunkenly through the gate, still laughing.
“I want to leave,” I told Grace.
“Awww, Kells.” She rubbed my shoulder, but my wings kept getting in her way. “He’s gone. Don’t give him the power to ruin your evening. You want some spooky potion?”
I nodded, and she went off to dip into the cauldron. And then, just as I thought I couldn’t possibly be more thoroughly mortified, Liam approached me on my hidden perch.
“Hey,” he said, handing me a bottle of water. “Don’t drink the punch. I think someone spiked it.”
“Thanks,” I said, sniffling.
“Not feeling social at the moment?”
I couldn’t help myself. I started crying. Big, embarrassing, gasping sobs.
“Whoah! Kelly. Hey, what’s wrong?” Oh man. I’d only met him that morning, and already I was blubbering all over him.
It took me a minute to pull myself together, inhaling deeply and wiping at my tear-streaked cheeks with the back of my hand.
“You’re new, so you don’t know,” I told him. I didn’t want to tell him, yet. I wasn’t ready.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t know, yet. Your wings are drooping,” he said.
“Can you fix them?” It might be easier to tell him if I was facing away. My damn wings gave me the perfect excuse to turn my back to him.
I felt him tugging on the laces as I gathered my courage.
“How’d you find me here?”
“Grace sent me over.” He brushed my bare shoulder with his hand as he adjusted my costume.
Of course she did. She probably thought she was helping. She definitely thought I should tell Liam. I didn’t know whether I wanted to thank her or throttle her if she ever turned up with the potion I wasn’t going to drink.
I took a deep breath and plunged in. “Wade was dressed like me. It was a joke.”
“Not a very funny one.”
“No, not funny at all. It’s a joke because . . . well, because of who I am.” My fingers twisted together in my lap, and I tugged at the wisp of green skirt resting against my thigh. “I’m transgender, Liam. Everyone in the school knows.”
I felt his hands still their motion on my wings. He was so quiet. I was sure he was going to get up and run as far away as he could. Instead, he surprised me.
“Let me tell you something about boys,” he said. “We can be really shallow creatures. My guess is that he did this because you’re pretty, and it bothers him that he finds you attractive. So he decided to find a way to make it a joke. 'I do find it cowardly and vile.' ”
He thought I was pretty. I told him I’m trans and he told me I’m pretty. And he’d used one of his Shakespearean insults, on top of it. I wanted to laugh merrily. Instead I just smiled.
Turning around to look at him, I caught a quick glimpse of wild red curls just beyond the bush.
“I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t had to come out to anyone for years, and I was terrified of how you’d react. You’re not weirded out or anything?”
He grinned, a crooked, toothy smile that took my breath away. “Nah. Surprised for a minute, but what’s life without a few surprises?”
“I think you’re full of surprises,” I said, shaking a shoulder to bat him with one of my wings.
“I may be,” he replied. “Now . . . what did you write down for character twist? I’m really excited about the skits. It’s so cool being with theater geeks my own age. Will you be on my team?”
“Definitely,” I said with a grin, and suddenly my hidden bench in the roses took on the magical feel of a fairy bower deep in a forest grove. It was going to be a good night after all.
Word count - 1403