Only Candy, flash fiction by Tina Hudak at
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Only Candy

Only Candy

written by: Tina Hudak


Nela knew, even at the young age of seven, that something was up below stairs. Halloween was tomorrow night, and she had been hoping to go trick-or-treating in her new neighborhood since they moved there in July. Even though her sisters never did this or rather, were never allowed to join in this American festivity, she had pleaded with her mother for almost a month to allow it “just this one time.” This evening she was been sitting on the steps, in her favorite pajamas – the set with small, grinning pumpkins scattered across the fabric – instead of sleeping. Her back was pressed against the wall that was shared with the house next door almost making her invisible from the kitchen. Her parents’ voices were raised – not the kind that scared her, but the tones where she knew this “means business” as her mom would often say.

“I will NOT have my daughter begging!” her father pronounces slowly in his stilted English. “I don’t work ten hours a day in the steel mill, so my children must beg for food.” She could almost hear her mother’s tender sigh and just about see, in her mind’s eye, her mother’s arms embrace her father while tenderly telling him, “We are in America now. This is not begging, moja láska. It is a custom for grown-ups to give out candy. Only candy.” Murmurs followed this exchange and then silence for a brief moment. She wondered if they were kissing, as she scrunched up her face. Upon hearing footsteps Nela quickly scampered back to her bedroom where her two older sisters were sleeping soundly. October moonlight poured in through the open window allowing her to pull out a cardboard box from under the bed. Sitting on the crochet woolen rug while opening this gift with deft fingers, she gazed down lovingly at the costume her mother had bought weeks ago. “Oh, her clever mamička. How she loved her so!” she smiled to herself, “Tomorrow night she truly would be her father’s princezná, crown and all.”



This takes place during the 1960s when Eastern Europeans filled the mills in small towns. The foreign phrases are Slovak.

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