By J.L. Mayne
The bile stings as it ejects from my empty stomach into the white porcelain. The acid struggles to mix with the water. Strings of green and yellow drip through the murk to the base of the bowl. My arms rest on the seat, where my family sits and defecates at least once a day.
In this particular moment in time, I don’t care about the germs crawling up my arms. The only thought in my tadpole head is to rid my body of whatever filth it is harboring. Release it so that tomorrow, Halloween, I can join my siblings in trick-or-treating.
I push through the muscle spasms opposite what is natural and think of the horde of candy I will be able to gorge myself on. I feebly raise my head and spit in a vain attempt to rid my tongue of the curdled intestinal secretions. I wipe my mouth and rinse it with cool water, knowing that it will be a battle to keep down even a few drops, but the liquid is refreshing as it slides down my gullet, taking bits of puke with it.
I stumble down the hall, trying to keep my balance and avoid running into the wall. Somehow, I make it to the couch and collapse in the spot where I will spend the rest of the day.
I insist to my mother that I’ll be better by tomorrow, that the sickness will be gone and I’ll be able to go out. She smiles and nods like a good parent, not believing me, while skillfully avoiding unnecessary remorse from her infected son. She hands me a cup of something sweet and says that it will help me feel better. I believe her, like a good son, and sip the contents.
My insides churn as I sit watching the pictures on TV, brain scrambling to make sense of the swirling colors. Sweat percolates on my forehead and I can feel the familiar, horrible urge to vomit start to rise from the depth of my bowels until it consumes me. My breath quickens and my heart threatens to break ribs. I inhale deeply and try to ignore the urge, try to will the sickness out of my body as I clutch at my groaning abdomen.
I fail, return to the bathroom, and spew the medicine I just consumed.
Hours of this back-and-forth before I finally drag myself up the stairs and collapse into bed. A prayer narrowly misses my lips begging to be better by tomorrow, that I’ll be able to dress up, scavenge, and eat that precious horde of candy.
My eyes slowly open and I realize my body feels normal, and I didn’t wake during the night at all. I rejoice, and call out to my mother as I sprint down the stairs. Proclaiming that I’m not sick! The plague has passed! I can go trick-or-treating! My smile threatens to rip my face apart.
She is near the foot of the stairs, waiting. She looks at me with sad eyes and shakes her head.
My hopes and dreams of Halloween are whisked away like an exorcised wraith. I weep. Tears rain down my face and I sob in my mother’s arms.
I stay at home and answer the door for the few children who dare venture down our four-lane street.
They include my siblings. My young brother wears a shirt with bones, cheeks of white, and black around his eyes. My younger sister is orange and round. My older sister’s face is green, a long nose extends abnormally from it. She holds a broom in one hand and a treat bag in the other. Her pointed hat makes her look taller.
And me, I am dressed in polka dots.
J. L. Mayne writes for fun and hopes to someday make enough money to get his kids 50 cents a week in royalties. His inspiration comes from that guy hiding in your closet.