Outside, in the early evening darkness, the children sound manic. There is a chaos in the way they laugh and storm up and down the street. It is only seven thirty, and they are only young, still in single digits probably, but the whole arrangement is so threatening.
It would have been easy to buy some sweets of something. That’s really all that is required of an adult on Halloween. You just buy a big bag of sweets, go about your day the way you normally would, and when they knock on the door you just give them the sweets. They knock on the door and say trick or treat in a slightly sheepish way, the grown-ups standing at the end of your front garden offer you a sort of apologetic, empathetic shrug, you hold up the bag and they grip as many as their tiny hands can manage. Then it is over. They leave and you go back to your normal weekday evening.
So why am I sitting in the dark? Why is the living room door closed when it is almost never closed? Why do I creep into the kitchen and open the fridge a crack in order to get a drink? Why did I just take a shit in the dark? Because it is imperative, absolutely critical, that the house appears unoccupied. I am not home, and so no one knocks on the door. Perfect. Except I doubt I am fooling anyone. The adults know I am home. The car is on the drive, the dull light from the computer seeps under the crack in the door and gives the house a feint electric glow. It is different from real emptiness. They know what I am doing. So they tell the kids ‘not this one, no one is home’. Except the kids know I am home. Some instinctive thing. They don’t know how they know, they just do. And they can’t believe their parents are falling for my ruse, but they have no authority to argue back. I know what I am doing. They know what I am doing. But this is the arrangement. This is how we do it.
Opening the door is not an option. I have nothing to give them. It’s not that I fear the trick. I don’t think anyone comes equipped with a trick any more. I fear having to explain why I am unable to keep up my end of the social contract that Halloween insists upon. I am supposed to provide sweets, but the best I could offer is a bottle of mineral water or an avocado. When a ten year old says trick or treat you can’t offer them a coffee, no matter how good the coffee might be. It just isn’t allowed. Why didn’t I buy a big bag of sweets? Because even if I had them I still would have hid in the darkness, same as every year, and the big of sweets would have sat uneaten. There is no way I would eat them. And I can’t take them to work, even though people bring treats to work all the time. I can’t do that because this would clearly be a bag of Halloween treats. Either I didn’t get anyone knocking on the door or I spent the night hiding with my lights out, and I don’t want people thinking either of those things.
I am pathetic, I know. But tomorrow nanowrimo begins and I can disappear into thirty days of intensive writing. I’ll be doing my best to ignore the world and get some serious writing done. That’s how this blog post started; just a bit of free-writing to get some momentum up. I have been preparing my nano novel for a while now and I am looking forward to getting started, but I have been disciplined and not written any prose for it at all. I have an outline and notes, and I have done a number of free-writing exercises to get warmed up. It is going to be hard to fit writing 50,000 words into an average month, and so having a bit of momentum seemed a good idea.
That’s my nano tip. Build some momentum in order to start writing at a jogging pace.