Episode 1108: HopePaul had gone home early from the party that night a couple weeks back. So early that trick or treaters had still been milling about the neighborhood when he’d pulled into the driveway. He kept the lights off not wanting to deal with anyone and dropped down onto the sofa, shutting his eyes, though not sleeping.
Maybe fifteen minutes later came a persistent buzzing of the doorbell alternating with cries of “trick or treat” and “happy Halloween.”
He’d thought they’d get the hint pretty quickly what with no pumpkins outside, no lights on inside and no one answering the door. But it continued and it continued and when Paul got visions of cleaning up toilet papered trees and an egged house, he decided to at least try to plead his case to the irate little pipsqueaks. Maybe they were more reasonable than their incessant doorbell ringing implied.
Paul switched on the light in the vestibule and opened the door. “I’m sorry,” he said to two girls, one dressed as Pippi Longstocking and the other dressed as Peter Pan. “I’m not really celebrating Halloween this year.”
“So you dress like Spiderman everyday?” The Peter Pan girl asked. He’d forgotten that he’d only pulled down the mask not changed clothes.
“Maybe Halloween’s against his religion. We should go.” The other girl tugged at Peter Pan’s sleeve.
“He’s wearing a costume on Halloween. He celebrates Halloween. He just celebrates it by partying and then when it comes to the actual reason for Halloween, making kids happy, he shuts off the lights and pretends he’s not home. He’s basically a grinch.” The kid sounded and looked so disappointed in him.
“Hope.” Pippi Longstocking muttered under her breath.
Paul couldn’t be sure she’d said it or if he just wanted to have heard it, wanted his own ghost of Halloween past like Lucy had experienced a while back.
This girl probably wasn’t his daughter. That girl probably hadn’t called her Hope. It had to have been a coincidence that Peter Pan girl appeared to be mixed race. Yet Paul hurried to assure her that he wasn’t a grinch, he just hadn’t planned to be home that night and his cupboards were bare as far as Halloween treats. He offered the girls the box of cookies his mom had brought from a bakery that had an actual wait list and he also gave them the flowers his mom and brought to spruce up the latest in a string of new homes he’d tried in recent years. Peter Pan girl had seemed pleased enough by his efforts to make up for the lack of candy bars on hand, still he’d gone over and over it in his mind in the weeks since. He’d wondered if that had really been his daughter. His Hope. He wondered if she’d ever show up on his doorstep again.