Blood and Chocolate
I love the fall.
I always felt, as a child, that with the new school year, fall brought a new beginning… A chance for things to be different.
But they never were.
I love Halloween… the not-too-sharp chill in the air, the decorations, the smell of cinnamon and cloves. But before the season is out, there is always the bitterness… the taste of blood and chocolate.
I was 6 or 7 years old. My mother was one of those crafty mamas who sew clothes, and she had sewn me an adorable witch costume, complete with pointy hat and cape. It was so well-constructed that I wore it a few years in a row.
That year we were into roughly the third donning of the witch outfit, and it was early evening. I had been out trick-or-treating with the rest of the little kids, and now the big kids were roaming the streets; so I was inside, sitting on the couch with my candy.
My mother was crocheting next to me, while I pulled pieces of chocolate out of the plastic pumpkin in my lap…I can close my eyes today and still see the brown and black patterned sofa, the burnt orange shag carpet, my little legs, too short to reach the floor, sticking out from under my black dress.
My father was sitting in his recliner, and some show was on the TV. There was a knock at the door, and he got up to answer it. It was one of the big boys, and I craned my neck to see his costume. However, my father blocked our view, gave the boy some candy and shut the door on him.
Pouting, I said, “I wanted to see!”
The old man walked over and stared hard at me.
“What?” I asked.
My head snapped back from the force of the back of his meaty hand meeting my face, and my eyes filled with tears, as my mouth filled with blood.
He walked back to his chair and sat heavily.
“Bruce!” my mother said sharply. But she said no more; those were the days when she felt that contradicting him openly would cause a ‘rift’ in our relationship.
I sat there, weeping, miserable, trying to swallow, while he stared straight ahead at the TV.
Mama pressed tissues into my hand.
“It’s ok, honey. Eat your candy.”
She patted my leg, and I sniffled and shakily took a piece of chocolate from the pumpkin.
I took a bite.
Blood and chocolate.
I’ll never forget the taste.
Intermittently, he would glare over at me, as would become his custom on many more occasions, as if to make sure I knew he had no remorse and to be careful to keep my mouth shut for the rest of the night.
It’s many years and many Halloweens ago, but when the little goblins come out, no matter how much time has gone by- I am on that sofa. A sofa that is long gone, from an era that is long past, and a night that he probably has no recollection of.
But he didn’t have to swallow what I did.