Lisa was sitting on the couch looking through a magazine when Anne came in from work and plopped down into Chris’s favorite easy chair. “Long day?” she asked.
“You know it,” Anne replied, kicking off her heels and throwing her feet up onto the coffee table. “I’d forgotten how crazy it got at the bookstore on Halloween with all those little kids in costumes running around.”
Lisa grinned. “I hadn’t.”
Anne looked at her in confusion for a moment. “Oh, right,” she nodded. “That was you. I was still hanging on a rack in Sears last year. Sorry about that.”
“Don’t sweat it,” Lisa told her, setting her magazine down. “Comes with the territory. And trust me. I know what you’re talking about. Holidays weren’t my favorite times to be at the store either.”
Anne just grunted in reply. She looked around the living room. “Chris isn’t home yet?”
“Nope,” Lisa answered. “He just called. His flight out of Denver was delayed. But he should be landing soon, and promises that he’ll still make it home in time to help hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters.”
Anne huffed out a breath.
Lisa looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Problem?”
“No… Yes…” She took a second to get her thoughts together. “It’s just that I can’t help wondering when I… uh, you... we… whatever. My point is that it’s Halloween. There was a time we’d be out partying our butts off instead of hanging around the house giving out candy to rugrats.”
“True,” Lisa admitted. “But Chris loves doing it. And I love Chris. So…” She gave her new cousin a hands-up gesture. “Still, there’s nothing that says you can’t go out and have a good time, you know?”
“Nothing except the fact that I’m still ‘new in town’ and don’t really know anyone yet.”
Lisa’s eyebrow went up again. “Huh? You’ve been working at the store for almost a month now. Surely you’ve made friends by now.”
“Not really, no.”
“Really?” Lisa asked, obviously taken aback. “Not even Sylvia or Helen. They were always very friendly toward me.”
“Yes, but that was you,” Anne explained. “Me they give the cold shoulder.”
Lisa sit back against the arm of the couch. “That’s wild. I mean, you’re me. Why would they treat you any differently?”
“It might be my fault.”
Anne sighed. “Because I’m you,” she said. “I’ve been kind of keeping my distance. You’ve seen how hard a time I have remembering that my memories aren’t my own. I’m always afraid that I’m going to say something that gives away our little secret.”
Lisa sat back and gave that some thought. “Wow,” she finally said. “I guess it’s my turn to apologize. I honestly didn’t realize how tough it must be for you to fit in since we decided not to change you back.”
Anne gave her a slight smile. “Well, like you said, comes with the territory. Right?”
“I guess,” Lisa agreed reluctantly. “Still, I wish there was something we could do to…” She stopped suddenly and smiled.
“What?” Anne asked, instantly suspicious.
“I just thought of something you can do to get out of the house tonight.”
It was Anne’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Okay?”
“You can go trick-or-treating.”
“Trick-or-treating?” Anne repeated.
“Sure, why not?”
“Why not?” Anne repeated again. “Lisa, I might only be a month or so old, but I’ve still got a twenty-seven-year-old body. I think I’m a little old for trick-or-treating.”
“Maybe,” Lisa agreed. “But you don’t have to be.”
Anne gave that a second to sink in. “You mean use the wand?” Lisa just nodded in reply. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“Why not?” Lisa asked her.
“I don’t know, honestly,” Anne admitted.
“Then it’s decided,” Lisa told her, getting up from the couch. “You go get cleaned up from work, and I’ll run down to the store and get you a costume.” She went into her bedroom to get her purse. When she came back, she found Anne still sitting in Chris’s chair. “What are you waiting on? Get a move on. I’ll be back by the time you get out of the shower.”
And without waiting on Anne to reply, she headed out the door.
----- ----- -----
It turned out that Anne was out of the shower well before Lisa got back from the store. She came into the living room to find her cousin sitting on the couch looking through her magazine. “Sorry,” she apologized. “That’ll teach me to go Halloween shopping at the last minute. There wasn’t much left to pick from.”
“It’s cool,” Anne said, sitting down the magazine. “It gave me time to warm up to this crazy idea.”
“I knew you would,” Lisa smiled. “After all, you always loved going trick-or-treating.” She gave the other woman a wink.
“Yes,” Anne agreed, returning the smile. “I did.” She got up from the couch. “So, what did you get me?”
“You’ve got a choice,” Lisa said, sitting the bags down. She pulled out two costumes on cardboard hangers. She turned to show them to her cousin. “You get to be either a witch or a fairy princess.”
“As if you didn’t already know.”
“Witch it is, then,” Lisa grinned, tossing the princess costume aside. “You ready to do this?”
“You could say that,” Anne answered, pulling the wand out of the pocket of her bathrobe. She handed it to her cousin.
“Okay, here goes.”
Lisa reached out and tapped Anne on the top of the head with the wand. There was the familiar flash, and Anne found herself suddenly looking up at her cousin. “Whoa,” she spat out. She brought her hand up to her mouth at the sound of her younger voice. “This is wild,” she said, pulling the now loose-fitting robe back to look down at her much smaller chest. “How old am I?”
“Twelve,” Lisa answered, setting the wand down on the coffee table. “Not too old to still go, but old enough to go out by yourself.” She picked up the witch costume and held it up to the new preteen. “Yeah, this should fit perfectly.”
“Cool,” Anne smiled. She looked over to the shopping bags. “Did you remember to get a plastic pumpkin for me to put candy in?”
Lisa swallowed. “Uh, I remembered,” she said slowly, “but…”
Anne cut her eyes at her. “What?”
Lisa sighed. “I told you. There wasn’t much left to choice from. There weren’t any pumpkins left, I’m afraid.”
“But I always carried a plastic pumpkin.”
Lisa gave her a look. “What? You think I don’t know that? But they didn’t have any.” She turned to reach for the bags. “I got you one of those printed plastic bags,” she went on, opening the shopping bag. “It’ll just have to do.”
“I don’t think so,” she heard Anne say behind her. Then, she felt something touch her on the top of the head. And just like that she found herself falling to the floor inside her clothes.
Anne grinned down at the lumpy pile of clothes before bending down to pull the orange plastic pumpkin out of them. “Hey,” she said, looking into the molded face on the front of it, “don’t give me that look. This was your idea, after all.”
For her part, Lisa could just return her cousin’s grin. Of course, her own grin was plastic, so she couldn’t really change it. Damn, she thought to herself. I forgot what a terror I was at twelve.
Anne set the pumpkin and the wand on coffee table. Grabbing up the witch costume, she headed to her bedroom. A few minutes later, she came back into the living room wearing it. She went over to the coffee table. “What do you think?” she asked the pumpkin. “Don’t I make a good witch?”
That’s one word for it, yeah, Lisa replied silently.
“Well, I think we’re ready to go,” she said, picking up the pumpkin. She eyed the wand laying on the table for a second. “No, I’d better not. I’m probably already in enough trouble here.”
She turned toward the front door, and came up short at the sight of Chris standing there. He set his suitcases down next to the door, never taking his eyes off the little girl standing there. “Do I even want to know?” he sighed.
----- ----- -----
“Ooh, score!” Anne shouted, pulling the wrapped piece of candy out of the pumpkin. “Kit Kat!”
Chris just shook his head, watching the girl going through her take. “I still can’t believe Lisa came up with this.”
Anne rolled her eyes before looking up at him. “Well, she did,” she told him. “I told you. She wanted to make me feel better. And when they were out of plastic pumpkins, she volunteered to be one for me. Would I lie about that?”
Apparently so, the pumpkin replied, though no one heard it.
“I’m not calling you a liar,” Chris said, obviously on unsure ground. “It just doesn’t make sense is all. She could have turned anything into a pumpkin. She didn’t have to be one herself.”
Anne bit her lip. “Uh... yeah. That is kinda weird, huh? I guess she was too upset to think about that.”
Chris eyed her carefully. “I guess,” he finally admitted. “I’m sorry. I’m just being selfish. I mean, I’ve been gone for a week. I just thought that the two of us would… well…”
“Screw each other’s brains out?” Anne finished for him.
Chris opened his mouth to answer, but shut it without a word.
“Relax, Chris,” Anne told him. “I might be twelve at the moment, but I still remember what it was like to be twenty-seven.”
“Ah,” Chris smiled, before turning to look away.
Anne watched him for a minute, then looked down into the plastic face on the pumpkin. Finally, she sighed. “Okay,” she said, getting up and heading into the kitchen. She came back out with a large plastic bowl. She dumped the candy from the pumpkin into it. “Catch,” she said, tossing the pumpkin to Chris. He caught it and looked up at her confused. “You guys have fun,” Anne told him.
“But she’s still a pumpkin,” he said.
Anne rolled her eyes. “Now,” she huffed. “But she doesn’t have to stay that way.” She used a finger to slide the wand across the table to him. “She’ll have to be something else for a while to get back to normal,” she went on. “But if you do your job right, I’m sure she’ll think it was worth it.”
Anne looked once more into the grinning face on the front of the pumpkin. She swallowed softly. “Well, don’t let me hold you up. I’ll… um, I’ll be in my room.” With that, she turned and left without looking back.
Chris watched after her for a bit. “Girls are weird,” he said with a shake of his head.
Picking up the wand, he headed off to his own bedroom. Closing the door, he set the pumpkin down on the bed. “I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble,” he said out loud before touching the wand to the plastic.
In a flash, his naked wife was sitting on the bed. She took a few moments to check herself out, then held out her hand to him. “Wand,” she said simply.
Chris looked at her with combined expression of confusion and worry. Still, without a word, he handed her the wand.
“Thanks,” Lisa said, getting up from the bed. “Be right back,” she added before heading naked out of the bedroom.
Chris stared at the open doorway for a bit. “Okay,” he stated, sitting on the edge of the bed.
----- ----- -----
“Sorry about that.”
At the sound of his wife’s voice, Chris turned to tell her that it was okay. But the sight of Lisa dressed neck to ankle in a black latex catsuit robbed him of his voice. All he could do was swallow.
“I really wanted to welcome you home properly,” she went on, slinking seductively into the room. “I just had to have a little talk with my cousin first. I hope you understand,” she purred, slipping into his arms.
He swallowed before answering. “No problem,” he told her dryly. “So, I’m thinking that Anne’s story took a few liberties with the truth.”
“Here and there,” she answered. “But we’ve discussed it, and she’s seen the error of her ways.”
“You’re going to have to get a new doorknob for her door, though,” Lisa told him. “Little witch locked it. I had to turn it to smoke to get in.”
“I’ll take care of it tomorrow,” he said, running his hand over the smooth surface of the catsuit. “Is this…?”
“Lord, no!” she spat out. “Last place I want her tonight is in here with us. This is the fairy princess costume I got at the store. I thought you’d like this better.”
Chris grinned. “Oh, I do. Shall I show you how much?”
“You do that, big boy,” she breathed, pushing him back onto the bed. “And don’t worry about Anne. She’s going to make sure that we’re not disturbed by any last minute trick-or-treaters.”
----- ----- -----
“That’s so fake looking,” the boy said.
“Who cares?” the girl with him replied. “Look at all this candy.” She grabbed a handful from the plastic bowl sitting in the chair by the door.
“Should you take so much?” the boy asked. “They put it out for everyone.”
“Hey, I’m just doing what the sign says.”
The boy turned to the door and reread the sign. Do not knock! Take what you want! With a shrug, he grabbed up his own handful of candy. “Ooh, score!” he shouted “Kit Kat!”
The girl turned back and looked at the inflatable witch standing next to the bowl of candy. She gave it a push and watched at it rocked back and forth. “You’re right,” she said to the boy as they headed off the porch. “That’s the worse witch I’ve ever seen.”
Anne watched them go and sighed to herself. Damn! I was really looking forward to that Kit Kat, too.
The End…for now!