Halloween, it dawns only once a year. For Maggie Phillips this holiday meant more than any of the others. Thanksgiving was a day to bitch, fight, standing over a hot stove, hanging out with relatives you wouldn’t spare a cent to if their lives depended on it. Spending the entire day stuffing your face with the meat of helpless animal that was too stupid to realize its flesh was the worst curse that could be brought upon it.
Christmas was the time of year you pretend to be cheerful, buying meaningless gifts that would be returned to the stores you bought them from, just for store credit. To people who never meant anything to you, like ex-lovers who gave you a quick fucking during that one drunken office Christmas party. It was a holiday that left you with more headaches and regrets than cheerful memories.
Halloween was in a different league, it was the time where you got to shed your old skin and pretend to be someone else entirely, the shy bookworm could be seductive, the house wife could be a symbol of hope, where a damaged soul could look sane for just one night. This is why Maggie relished this holiday, and made the most if it. This day was meant for her, the stay-at-home wife who married her high school sweetheart who wanted to be football player but ended up being the towel boy of the team, so he decided to use his head and become a chemist. A housewife who gave birth to two beautiful children, who she dreamt would be natural born artist and give back so much to the world, instead ended up becoming nothing but pot smoking monkeys. Maggie’s life circled around them, always coming to their every waking whim. She never travelled the world as she had always wanted, never meeting new interesting people or tasting new exotic foods. Instead she stayed in nowhere Ohio, getting to know the other housewives that watched soap operas day in and day out, gossiping every second they had, backstabbing each other as they turned their backs. Just being plain old housewives.
Each October 1st she would pick the perfect costume, looking through catalogs, making sure to never repeat herself. She wanted something unique, one that stood out from the drug store ones. It took her some time, until she finally chose a Fairy Godmother with a nice, white glittered mask – all of it costing her $499.99. Money was no trouble; this was her day after all. A Fairy Godmother was a pleasant, welcoming figure. No one hid from her; she wasn’t scary. They welcomed her with open arms – how the children would love her!
Within days she had her costume, her new skin, ready for Halloween. Her husband would tease that she was too old to be dressing up. Her children had passed the phase of trick or treating, but that never ruined her festivities.
Maggie would spend all night making cookies and sweets on the eve of Halloween, packing each treat with her own family recipe, one that she had perfected throughout the years.
The next morning, at the crack of light, Maggie would put on her costume in the attic, looking at herself for a good hour or two. She would then go down stairs kiss her husband on the cheek as he went off to work. Her children pretended to go to school, when they were really heading to a friend’s house to score pot. Leaving Maggie alone for her yearly ritual.
Maggie would take a drive two cities over in her beautiful costume with her bag of treats sitting beside her, all smiles, looking to spread a little bit of joy into her world.
She would stop by a park, where many children played, unsupervised. Maggie smiled and waved at them. Every child pointed at her and had the look of shock on their face, they couldn’t believe a Fairy Godmother had come to pay them a visit. They circled around her, asking what she brought in her bag, pulling on her blouse, telling her how much they loved her. Their Fairy Godmother smiled and passed out one chocolate ghost cookie to each boy and one sugar witch cookie to each girl. But one was never enough. They begged her for one more treat – how could she say no?
After all the treats where gone, she would get back inside her car and drive away, waving goodbye at the children and wishing them well. Seeing their cute faces from the mirror as they gobbled their treats down, never once wondering who this stranger with the golden smile was or why she was handing out free treats for all to eat.
In a few hours, those children would become ill. A simple tummy ache it would seem to their parents, only to find their child in the middle of the room late night vomiting uncontrollably, crying for their parents to help, a frantic mother would hold her child as he/she convulsed, while a begging father screamed at the 911 operator to send help. Never knowing each second that passed the wonderful treat they ate was tearing their insides. All because of Maggie’s recipe, a dash of sugar, one cup of butter and a small pinch of castor beans, which purified becomes a nasty little agent known as ricin . The perks of having a chemist for a husband, you tend to pick up a few things here and there.
Reporters would race to the scene and talk to the stuck grieving parents, as cops looked for the serial killer no one saw, which no one would speak of throughout the year, a ghost coming to another city and taking the lives of the young every October. She was the boogeyman that everyone feared on Halloween, a simple housewife who spent her Sundays clipping coupons, who never missed a bake sale, who attended church on a daily basis and handed out food to the poor on Christmas. After all, isn’t that what Halloween is about, being someone else for one day, one time of the year?