You are six years old, it is Halloween night. And it is the dreaded annual Corned Beef dinner again. The slice lays on your plate with the iridescent reflection glistening among the small yellow balls, that they tell you are mustard seeds. It doesn't make it any more appetizing for you. The vapid lumpy mashed potatoes, and pale green beans combining to make this a childhood meal you will commit to memory for life.
The remaining corned beef in its white square corningware dish, reigns supreme over the dinner table. What is left of the late autumn sun trickles in through the west facing windows.
" When will it be dark enough to go trick or treating? " you ask, squirming on your hard wooden seat. "Soon", is the reply, "but first you must eat your corned beef, before you can go out."
You choke it down, all cold and salty, the lumpy mashed potatoes clang in your stomach.
Your younger sister gurgles in her high chair, happily eating her meal with her fingers. You are a big girl now, and you can go trick or treating, she can't. You realize later that this is where decades of sibling rivalry started.
The neighbourhood kids, the really big kids, come to get you. Your mother opens the front door to them, as you step back in fear, because you don't recognize the torn white sheets with holes cut for eyes, or the hard plastic yogi bear, and clown masks that they wear.
Your mother reassures you, and thankfully watches you go off with children whom you have grown up with for the last few years. She doesn't worry about strangers, it wasn't a concern in those days. She could use the few minutes alone, with just your younger sister. Waiting for your father to complete the long after work drive to the suburbs.
Beside she has to give out the candy, portioning out just one piece per child, to be dropped in the old pillowcase, as they chorus "trick or treat" at the door. Their homemade costumes, and unaccompanied groups small and simple.
You run in the dusk, vainly trying to keep up with the big kids, your homemade costume tripping you up the stairs. Holding back the tears that threaten to overflow the plastic mask cutting into the skin below your eyes, your mood changes from sadness to euphoria.
Someone opens the door to a grinning, excited group of children screaming trick or treat. "Oh don't they look sweet" she exclaims. Mostly pirates, clowns, and hobos, make up the group.
The carefully portioned candy is given to each gaping pillow case politely held in order, with the youngest, and smallest first. A loud thank you, is echoed by all.
Then you are off, to catch up with the spirited big kids, running off into the dark heedless of danger, elated to be allowed out after dark, almost alone. A halloween memory in the making.