tw: gore/blood, death of a child
The two kids sat in a semi circle on the living room’s floor, dry towels underneath them and their individual pumpkins.
Ari, their mother, leaned on the doorway with no door separating the kitchen from the living room. She looked at Jack, the youngest at ten, and smiled as he tried to cut the pumpkin with a butter knife (after his father had started on the design). His tongue popped out of his mouth and made its way to the side of his mouth, where it typically stayed while he was focused and busy at work. He sat with his legs underneath him, and almost toppled over, snapping him back to reality. He really looks like his late grandfather when he concentrates, she thought. She was constantly trying to not tear up whenever she saw him make that face. It didn’t help that he also acted like the man he resembled. They were both silly, and always laughing and smiling.
As if on queue Jack looked at his sister’s pumpkin and started laughing.
“Jack,” his mother said. Jack looked at her as her finger reached her lips telling him to stop laughing. He did, but he still smiled and went back to looking at his own.
The mother looked from Jack to his right side where his youngest sibling, Destiny sat. She was only five, so she could not cut a pumpkin. Instead, she took her markers and went to town on a tiny one. Not only was she satisfied, but so were her parents who heard her cry for a good hour straight when she was told only the boys would be carving their own pumpkins. She, of course, won her very own from her performance.
Her eyes finally made their way to Micah, the oldest at fourteen, holding up his large knife with his head tilted as he inspected his work. He was like a doctor making sure he only made cuts that mattered, cuts with reason. He was a true perfectionist like his mother. But, she didn’t know where the rest of his personality came from, as he was the complete opposite of Jack and his father who loved being creative and spontaneous. She had never seen him so dedicated to a craft project, as he focused more on schoolwork and would have failed almost every art project he had if it had not been for his father “helping” him. He was the one who suggested having a pumpkin carving night, saying he just had to have the scariest jack-o-lantern ever.
The shine of the blue handle caught her eye, and her heart immediately found its way to her toes. “M–Micah where did you get that knife from?”
What box? She thought. His box that had all of his old things he refused to get rid of but he never touched that sat inside his closet? No. Why would she put it in there? How could it have gotten in there? She remembered burying the knife in the backyard three years ago.
“I didn’t know you were using that.”
“Can’t I? Grandpa gave it to me to use, not for it to just sit collecting dust in my knick-knack box.”
She flinched. It had been used far too much, and she never did like the fact that her late father decided to leave it to him once he passed three years ago . Once, she asked him why he thought his grandpa entrusted him with it. He said, “Once, I said I liked how it looked ‘cause I like the color blue. Then, he told me how he took care of it since he liked it for whatever reason. He said he used it to do some stuff. But, I didn’t care about all of that,I mean it’s just a knife, but I did like how it looked,” he shrugged and went back to working on his pumpkin.
“Well, I don't think it’s a proper pumpkin carving knife. Tad too big and sharp.”
“If I wanna be precise, I gotta use the best knife. Doctors don’t just use any tool like a plastic knife to get into a human’s body do they”
She flinched. “Mi–”
“Alright everyone. Time for bed,” their father, John, walked down the stairs leading into the living room. He clapped his hands together. “Did you all have fun?”
“You told me I could stay up for an extra fifteen minutes tonight,” Micah said. His black hair fell over his eyes and he brushed his bangs to the side with his hands.
“Did we now? I don’t remember that.” Ari looked at John.
“Yeah, neither do I.”
“You two are getting very forgetful these days. Is it time for me to look into old folk’s homes?” Micah said with fake care and worry in his big brown eyes, nodding sympathetically as he did look at the both of them.
“C’mon buddy that wasn’t funny.” His dad said, whilst a smile played on his lips.
“Fine. I’m sorry.” Micah stood up and grabbed his pumpkin, making sure to hold the face facing him, and close to his body. “I’m gonna put it in the basement so no one can see it till it’s time to set them outside. It’s gonna be the scariest pumpkin you’ve ever seen”
His dad cracked a smile, “You’re just like a mother. Always gotta outdo everyone.”
The mother couldn’t make herself smile and just watched Micah take the pumpkin out the kitchen, and disappear out of sight. Then she turned to look at the blue knife he left on the towel alongside his mess.
“Guess we’re on cleanup duty huh?”
“Let’s get you two into bed,” Their dad said and Destiny took that as her queue to go to his back. He bent down. “Hold on.”
Jack took his mother’s hand and they followed the father and Destiny up the stairs.
Once Micah joined Jack and John in the boy’s bedroom, his dad kissed his forehead and said “Night.”
Ari popped her head in the doorway and called, “I love you both. Have sweet dreams.” She then closed the door, and made her way to the stairs.
“Where ya going,” John questioned.
“To clean their messes.”
“Nah, we should make them do it in the morning. Gotta cleanup after themselves right?”
She nodded, but stared down the steps thinking about the knife. “Right.” She turned around and followed him to their bedroom.
Inside Jack and Micah’s room, Micah sat up in bed with his arms crossed, staring at the ceiling and picturing his pumpkin.
“Jack, are you satisfied with your pumpkin?” He whispered.
“Yes.” Jack let out a deep yawn, and rolled over in bed.
“Well, I’m not done with mine. Wanna come help me put the finishing touches on it?”
“Not really. I’m sleepy.”
“Alright. But I can help you make yours better.”
Jack said nothing in response.
Micah got out of bed quietly, placing his feet one at a time on the cold hardwood floor. When he stood, he looked over at Jack who had fallen asleep.
The entire time this was happening, the mother sat up in bed beside her husband who was already serenading her with his snores. She stared up at the ceiling.
Her heart caught in her chest, as she listened intently. She was sure she could hear someone going down the stairs.
“No. They’re fast asleep by now. You’re letting Halloween spook you.”
There was the unmistakable sound of the basement steps. The second and third one always bothered her with their haunted house creaking sound. She had asked her husband to replace them multiple times, but he insisted that it would make sense to keep them that way for just in case purposes; that being a burglar deciding to come through the basement window.
She waited for a while. She knew Micah had decided to go down there to finish his pumpkin. “What if someone gets hurt with that knife again?” She thought, worried at Micah using it once again. How did he get it? Maybe I just imagined burying it. No. How could I just imagine that?
Calm down, he’s just finishing up his pumpkin. Just talk to him about it in the morning.
She felt like eternity had gone by by the time she heard Micah come back up the stairs, and go to his room.
She had this deep dark feeling in the pit of her stomach she tried to make go away.
You’re overreacting. Remember, what happened before was an accident. Don’t you believe your own son? Don’t you believe he’s not a monster?
She sat like that for another few minutes, thinking, trying to erase her thoughts, but thinking about them again. She decided she just needed to quiet her mind. That didn’t mean she didn’t trust him, or know she was being irrational. She just needed to make sure like any other mother would.
So, she got out of bed. She walked quietly to the boy’s room. She instinctively looked over at Jack’s bed on the opposite side of the room. She saw a lump underneath his covers and exhaled, relieved that she truly was wrong to think she’d find otherwise.
“Why are you back? Jack’s asleep.”
“Were you just in the basement?”
She managed a tight smile.
“Yes. I had to add some finishing touches to my Jack-o-lantern. I really think I’ll scare everyone this year.”
“I hope you didn’t make it too scary. We don’t want the kids running away without taking any candy. Then, we’ll get egged.”
“Halloween is about horror. Besides, aren’t we supposed to try our best at everything we do and make sure everything we create reflects us? What’s the point in carving the same face everyone makes on a pumpkin? Both you and dad taught me those things.”
His mother smiled. “I’m glad you’re finally letting your creative side show and you’re sure you’ll have the scariest pumpkin, but don’t forget to keep the fun in creativity. Your father would love it if you two could have fun and bond over making stuff..”
“I had fun making my Jack.”
“Good. Goodnight my little Perfectionist.”
“Goodnight Mr.Perfectionist.” She kissed his forehead and went to head out.
“Do you wanna have a peek at my Jack?” Micah asked right as her full body made it over the threshold.
She stopped and stood with her back still facing the door. She could feel her body start working overtime. Her hands got all clammy, her heartbeat sped up and her mind started racing. Before she knew it, she quickly walked over to Jack’s bed and yanked the cover off to find that he was gone. She looked back at Micah. “Where’s your brother?”
“I carried him downstairs. He wanted to—”
He started but she was already halfway out the door. “Not again. Not again. Not again,” she repeated till she reached the basement steps.
She stopped. She walked slowly down the stairs, two moaned under her feet, and she jumped both times.
By the time she reached the bottom step, she could see it. The splatters of blood. She gagged. She followed the blood, to see him lying there. All tiny. In a pool of his own blood.
“ I lied. I made two scary Jack’s.” Micah said behind her. He was grinning proudly with his arms behind his back. “Take a look at the lantern. A lantern with guts oughta scare everyone.” He laughed.
“And don’t worry. If you turn him over you'll see that, Jack’s still smiling like grandpa."
She ran over to Jack and dropped to her knees.
"I can help you bury the knife again. Just thought I'd use it one last time...in memory of grandpa."