18 - Halloween

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October used to be my favourite time of the year. As a family we would decorate the house with silly Halloween decorations. We would go all out on costumes, have three full bowls of candy for the children that went trick-or-treating and try and scare our neighbours. It was a family holiday, one that even topped Christmas. It became some sort of family tradition, one we all enjoyed and looked forward to each year. But that year things had changed, in many ways.

Colton had been invited to a Halloween party by a few seniors on the football team. He had been a junior at the time and saw it as a great opportunity to blend it more with his peers. He had been the first to bail on our family tradition. Mum and dad allowed it and they figured if he wasn't spending the night cooped up at home, dealing with the Halloween masses they wouldn't either. They had arranged a weekend away for the two of them up in Boston. I had been left alone and without much hope to salvage my favourite holiday, I spent most of the night at the library, surrounded by books to keep me company.

As the hours ticked on, my eyes grew sleepy. Colton had promised me he would pick me up at nine o'clock, only staying at the party for a few hours. It was well after ten o'clock and I had been calling and calling him, growing nervous with each passing minute. I enjoyed the Halloween festivities in the city but at this time of night it was growing a little less children friendly, as drunken people started piling out of nightclubs and bars, so there as no way I was walking home. Colton had arrived by eleven o'clock and a little annoyed. We had been arguing in the car on the ride home, his mood sour. Apparently, leaving the party before twelve to pick up his kid sister was seen as lame. I had become the ultimate burden that night for him.

Then it had happened.

We had been at a stoplight, throwing words back and forth at each other. He had been too focused on arguing with me that he hadn't been paying attention. His foot slipped from the brakes, the car rolling forward only about a meter. But it was too late. The blinding lights came at us, everything falling silent. I didn't remember the whole accident, didn't recall every moment from it. I remembered staring across at my brother, touching his shoulder as tears leaked from my eyes, running down my cheeks and blending with the blood from my forehead. I remembered the slick slime of his own blood, coating the side of his face, his head resting against the steering wheel as glass dusted the other side of his body. I remembered the screams, the sirens and the red and blue lights filling the night. I remembered getting pulled from the car, kicking and screaming for Colton.

He had been killed instantly. They tried to reassure me that he hadn't felt any pain. I didn't believe them. I couldn't understand how he hadn't felt the pain. I didn't understand how I could still feel that much pain when he couldn't anymore. I didn't understand how something like this could have happened to my family. A tragic car accident, a fatal night. The night that never left my nightmares. The night that had changed my whole life.

I didn't celebrate Halloween anymore, neither did my parents. It was a dull night in the Parsons house now, every single person in our neighbourhood knew it too. We didn't get trick-or-treaters anymore, nobody came knocking on our door wanting candy. It was an unspoken rule in our neighbourhood now, one that I was thankful for.

"You're not dressing up?" Gwen asked me the night of Harry's Halloween party at his father's penthouse. She was twirling in front of my floor length mirror. She was dressed as a 80s Valley girl, permed hair and everything.

I shook my head, dropping my eyes to my lap. I was perched on the edge of my bed, fiddling with the fringe of my skirt. I didn't particularly want to be attending Harry's party, something that had turned into a whole event now, but my two friends had left me alone on this night last year, never questioning but always knowing. This year had changed and I figured I would only stay for an hour before fleeing and coming back home to huddle under my blankets and watch crappy cartoons till I fell asleep, trying my hardest not to think about Colton. Mary Jane stepped out of my bathroom, giving me a big smile. "I brought extra costumes, if you want." She was dressed as a Flapper girl, a black short wig and all. It only seemed fitting that she of all people would bring extra costumes.

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