Children’s Faces by Rhonda Eikamp

October 31, 2013 Comments Off on Children’s Faces by Rhonda Eikamp

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It’s my turn to go to the door this year. We sit in the kitchen, you and I, and eat all the blue worms before they can arrive, our own ritual, as old as the knotting of our thoughts together. I tell you I don’t want to go to the door, and my confession discomfits you because you love me. We hear their giggles before we hear the chime of the doorbell, bodies thumping against the porch rail. The two notes of the chime high low scamper across my skin.

I’m breathing hard.

I go to the door.

They are all good this year — princesses and superheroes, all masked. Not a monster in sight. The masks comfort me, I can sense behind each mound of plastic a slackly open mouth, anticipation balled into stillness, that for a second lets me believe candy will be enough.

It’s never enough.

They shake their heads at my bowl. Perhaps if we left them the blue worms. The nearest take my arms while another sets the bowl aside, and they lead me onto the lawn. The night is star-studded frost, ghost moonlight in the rhododendron. Crabgrass tickles the back of my head as they lay me down. The knife appears from nowhere, like a taboo subject insinuated into a conversation, a glinting apostrophe denoting possession. I will not scream, though the first cut, at the center of my forehead, is a red universe exploding. They carve away my face in a thin outline, a keyhole shape that encompasses eyes nose mouth, and the pain is white noise in my brain, heavy metal etching the shape of the hole onto my neurons. When they peel my face away my sight goes with it and for moments I’m a game of catch, seeing whirligig images of fairies and cowboys as I’m tossed among them, dizzied by the comet-tail streaks of streetlamps, flapping upside-down while they fight over me, then they run away down the street swinging my face between them and the connection fades.

Blind, I crawl onto the porch. From driveways and rock gardens I hear the wails of others. Some have no one to meet them the way you meet me. You help me in and bandage my face, and I’m comforted knowing you love me. We sit in the kitchen, so much candy left, and you mouth the question my lost mouth can’t, wondering what they want with all these faces. We have no answers. This is another ritual. I can feel my face starting to grow back, a stuffy heat beneath the bandages. I’m so happy it’s over.

Next year it will be your turn.

© 2013 Rhonda Eikamp

Rhonda Eikamp is originally from Texas and lives in Germany. Stories of hers appeared in venues such as Space and Time and The Urbanite up to 2001. More recently she has had stories published or forthcoming on Daily Science Fiction, the Fringeworks anthology Grimm and Grimmer and in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She spends her non-writing time translating German legal texts, which helps keep her mind convoluted or just confused.

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