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A card, a game, a promise of something sweet.
Darkness came early this Halloween, his treats
turned into tricks, fate’s curtain drawn
to a close. Catching cooties with the sound
of crickets all around, or the crunch of
candy wrappers underfoot, or dead leaves
crumbling under the rheumy gaze of faded
stars, and that familiar earthy smell
of harvests past their prime, decay in full
bloom settling into the senses. Moss covered
pathways into darkness, replacing the walls
of their room, hinting at the tranquil
embrace of what awaited them beyond.
Figures loomed among the branches waiting,
watching, held upright by buoyant dread
circulating through withered limbs. They knew
what the children could not: that this
tableau was merely a glimpse, more than
just a witching hour, but the preview of
a hexed childhood, a cursed life. Layers would
grow and harden over their true selves,
trapped, screaming unheard, passengers in
a flesh machine gone off the rails, alone
in a crowded forest of limbs and blight just
like them. He looked to her in fear, but found
not so much peace as cessation in her gaze.
Her mask became her truth.