“Candy Boyfriends” from Harvest

The following is a vignette from Harvest by Amanya Maloba. Harvest was selected as the 2014 grand finalist of the Vine Leaves Vignette Collection Award. Visit here for purchasing information and more detail about Harvest.

photo: Amanya Maloba
photo: Amanya Maloba

Candy Boyfriends

October 31, 200–

Halloweens are always the same now. Sometimes I
dress as Diana Ross, recycling last year’s recital costume
of a red, sequined leotard and a matching flapper fringe
skirt. With a big, black wig, a red boa, and red lipstick
I could be the shrunken version of the Supreme.
Sometimes I use the same wig with black lipstick and
I become a witch. Two years ago, my friend Crystal,
who lived three houses down from us said that trick-or-treating
wasn’t dumb anymore and since then each year
is the same. She changes costumes also—last year she
dressed as a dinosaur, using an old recital costume from
her class, which is more advanced than mine. Her vertebrate
looked like the spines of her extinct ancestors.

Crystal said that in high school you could pick up
boyfriends on Halloween. Her sister had told her. She
said it was the same as picking a Kit Kat from the baskets
left on people’s porches. I listened to her because,
since the summer, she had become an expert in making
all kinds of men look over their left shoulder when they
walked by. She doesn’t wear a wig like I do when we go
out.

All that happens is, Crystal rings the doorbell, and a
short balding man answers the door. Trick or treat, she
says and he puts three pieces of candy in each of our
pillowcases, looking at Crystal’s kinky black braids and
Crystal’s winged eyeliner and Crystal’s dinosaur ridges
at the base of her neck. She takes one of her three pieces
out of the case—a Butterfinger—and peels away the
wrapper. Even though they’re always fun-sized pieces
she only bites off half, discarding the other half into the
bottom of her sack when she is satisfied with the results.

I do the same with a piece from my own sack. When
a woman answers the door, mid-forties with frizzy,
strawberry-blonde hair, Crystal smiles sweetly and the
woman drops one piece in each of our pillowcases. She
smiles again and we leave without sampling the goods.

For every half of a candy bar Crystal eats, I eat one
to match. Each bar brings her closer to a boyfriend, she
says. At the end of the night we dump the half-bars into
the trashcan behind my house, leaving only the chocolate
stains at the bottom of the pillowcases.

Crystal stares out at our street from my front porch
and the fall-spiced air makes me shiver.

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