My mother threw the Halloween party. We’d just moved, and she was trying to make an impression on the neighbors. She liked having people round, showing off our new house. She was so happy at the beginning of the night; playing with the camera as she dressed me up. She said she was going to take pictures of everything; she wanted the night to be remembered.
She was dressed all in white with red trails down her face, and yellowing teeth; the zombie bride. I was six-years-old at the time; her little mascot. I still don’t know what animal I was meant to be. No one knew. I remember neighbors gathering round; kids and grown-ups alike.
‘What are you meant to be, kid? A cat?’
‘She’s a dog, look at her nose.’
‘Look at the ears. She’s a rabbit!’
My mother wasn’t around to correct them, but maybe she didn’t know. Earlier that day my father had come downstairs in his suit; deliberately not dressed up. He thought mother’s parties were pretty pointless. Superficial and silly, just like her. But he ruffled my hair and told me I looked cute, so mother started swishing her white skirts, fishing for compliments.
She said, ‘Do you like my costume, darling? Do you know what we are?’
‘Bit extravagant, isn’t it?’ father said, barely looking. Mother never said anything, but I knew she was crushed. She dumped the camera on the mantel, and I never got to know what I was supposed to be. The neighbors never got to know. Most of that party I sat in the corner, the fur of my costume scratching my skin; watching my mother search anxiously for my absent father.
Maybe I was a pony. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Mine was the only picture my mother remembered to take that night. Her real life zombie husband had spoiled all her fun.
Story by Gudrun Roy