MAKE ME AN ANGEL
By John Thomas Tuft
It is the time of year when Persephone makes her annual return to her abductor, Hades, alas for the misfortune of eating four pomegranate seeds before she was to be freed, and the earth suffers the time of grief and anguish of Demeter, her mother, the time known to us mortals as the seasons of fall and winter. The air grows cooler, leaves change colors, good soups return to menus, the Apple Valley Apple Festival signs go up around the county, hoodies and jackets are donned, football games fill stadiums from high schools to big city professional teams, those in the know grieve the end of fresh tomato sandwich season even as canning kicks into high gear, quilts come out of closets to cover waiting beds, daylight grows shorter and weaker, crickets and other bugs move indoors, fireplaces are made ready for chilly mornings and evenings, and pumpkins and pumpkin spice flavors reign supreme in every nook and cranny of the national palate. As well as the annual theological tautological epistemological debate over which is the best Trick or Treat candy — and if yours doesn’t include chocolate and peanut butter maybe you should not even be reading this.
Travis and Kelsey, two ten-year-old friends in the neighborhood, made plans to cover as much ground as quickly as possible come the night of Halloween. Trunk or Treat at the church parking lot was great and everything, but it lacked the panache of extorting candy at weirdly decorated houses and yards from adults who glibly insist that celebrating the darkness of their fears is good fun. Being scared is part of the deal to being a human but celebrating that part of our make up helps to keep us unique. “What will be the trick part?” asked Travis the night of. “Of trick or treat?” replied Kelsey. “Our trick will be to make them disappear!” Seeing as how he was dressed as David Copperfield, the king of making things disappear (because not too many know about Thurston), this made sense to them both. “My mom says we can’t go to the Shepherd’s house. You know, that spooky creepy place on Elm Street,” added Kelsey. Travis, dressed as the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, was increasingly curious. “Is it haunted? Are there ghosts inside? We could go inside and scare other kids when they came by!”
So, plans were made that the spooky Shepherd’s house would be on their itinerary. The two set out with their pillowcases because, mind you, those are the only true hallowed receptacles for the bounty of All Hallows’ Eve. All was going according to plan, popcorn balls and fruit being casually disposed of in neighbors’ garbage cans so as not to take up space needed for chocolate treasure, and the two were making good time, mostly avoiding the traffic bumps of well-meaning adults saying, “let’s see who’s under that scary mask!” Finally, they approached the spooky, eerie Shepherd house. The only light was a single candle burning in an upper room. The wrap around porch, the bleak turret, and first floor were dark. Jack Sparrow and David Copperfield hesitated at the end of the sidewalk. Travis suddenly grabbed Kelsey’s arm. “I just saw a ghost. Right there where the candle is!” Kelsey strained to see, but he could not make out a ghost in the upstairs window. “C’mon,” insisted Travis, “let’s go inside!”
Travis boldly walked onto the porch and tried the front door. It was locked. Kelsey joined him and they tried every door and window until they finally found one slightly open in the turret. The two joined forces and pushed the window open with a loud screeching sound that echoed into the dark interior of the tower. They climbed through into the pitch black and cautiously felt their way around the wall. “I found a little cave,” whispered Kelsey. His voice sounded a little shaky but being with his best friend helped him feel bolder. “Let’s see where it goes,” said Travis and he climbed into the little cave. Kelsey followed suit but, suddenly, a door swung shut behind them and the whole cave began to move upward like an elevator. Before they could scream it bumped to a stop. The door swung open. It was the room with the single candle in the window. In it’s flickering light and dancing shadows stood a little girl with sad eyes, which looked directly at David Copperfield and Captain Jack Sparrow as she said, “Please, make me an angel.”
The two boys stood there for a moment. “I can make you disappear,” said the magician. “I can protect you on my ship that’s full of treasure,” said the pirate. “I want to be an angel,” insisted the girl. “I ran away from the people that keep hurting me. I want to go back and help the other children. They are scared and lonely and they need an angel to watch over them. Make me an angel.” “What about your parents?” asked Travis. Her sad eyes looked down in answer. “What about the police? Or your teacher?” Kelsey felt his stomach go into a knot as the girl sadly shook her head and turned away. “Make me an angel. Please.” Just then the flashing lights of a police car flitted around the room. The children heard footsteps on the porch and loud pounding on the doors. “Quick, in there,” urged Kelsey, pointing to the dumbwaiter. “You will disappear.” Travis grabbed both pillowcases and thrust them into her hands. “You will need treasure.” She climbed into the opening and the door slammed shut. The boys ran downstairs to distract the police. But they were too late. Flashlights lit up the whole turret room as they burst in. They could hear the dumbwaiter coming down. It stopped. The door slowly opened. It was empty.
The next day the two friends were in the car as Kelsey’s mom drove them to school. They had both been scolded for going into the scary house after being told not to go, losing their candy, and yada yada yada. The news came on the radio. “Police are only releasing the first name of the eight-year-old girl, Taylor, whose body was discovered two days ago in the river. Authorities said she had run away from home after they received reports of possible abuse…” Kelsey’s mom switched it off. And she missed seeing the two boys staring at each other wide-eyed as they mouthed the words, “We made an angel.”
Words are magic and writers are wizards.