Little Sophie loved to read. Hours passed without her notice.
How could she? Flying with pterodactyls in lands long gone,
Seeking creepy cryptids or legendary beasts with explorers.
Digging in the earth with archeologists making new discoveries,
Or opening tombs with egyptologists unconcerned with curses
From the dead were her thing. No baby books for this little girl.
She did, however, love reading about fairies, the Mexican kind,
With needle-sharp teeth for rending flesh and cracking bone,
Shape-shifting witches who turned into owls and gave her shivers,
But she snuck from her house at night just to see if one flew by.
Ghoulish ghosts and goblins from folktales enticed her in the dark,
But her trusty flashlight never caught them in its brilliant beam.
This year’s Halloween since she’d turned ten would be her first,
Trick-or-treating with older cousins. She promised she’d behave.
October days filled with anticipation, costume creation, decoration.
October nights amused with spooky shows and monster movies,
Reading forbidden horror books beneath the covers in her bed.
For the last thirteen days, phantoms danced in little Sophie’s head.
Her painted skeleton face on the long-awaited night of Halloween,
At odds with her purple velvet dress and pumpkin-orange leggings.
A silver cloak flapping over bat wings bobbing with every step
Of her ruby red slippers, clickety-clacking block after sidewalk block.
Sneers and jeers about her get-up did nothing to dampen Sophie’s joy,
She hissed back in vampire smiles and waved regally like a queen.
Her plastic Jack-o-Lantern bucket filled, the cousins said, “Let’s go,”
But little Sophie wasn’t ready, slipped off ’tween houses unobserved.
Terrifying tableaus in yards made her laugh and gasp in mock horror.
Then music from a distance sent her skipping off again into the night.
The gym ahead, windows all aglow, drew her in, joining monsters
Rocking to the beat, unaware of the panicked primos she left behind.
Concern turned to hysteria and the manhunt ensued, every stone turned.
Last stop because surely Sophie wouldn’t have, would she—the dance.
The high school masquerade. They found her there by the bandstand,
Boogying to Monster Mash with Frankenstein and good old Drac.
Having the time of her life. Those who loved her silently gave thanks,
Swore they’d kill her later and let her be. Everyone needed Sophie’s joy.
DECEMBER 2021 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Carmen Baca taught high school and college English for thirty-six years before retiring in 2014. A native New Mexico Norteña and regionalistic author, she incorporates elements of her regional Spanish culture into most of what she writes. She is the author of 6 books and over 70 short publications to date.