The year was 2015. As October arrived, people began coating their houses in stringy clumps of fake cobwebs and plastic decorations in gaudy shades of green and orange. I could barely wait to celebrate Halloween, to run around aimlessly with candy spilling out of my backpack, feeling the fabric of my favorite costume being pushed around the air by the heavy autumn wind.
It was October fourth — I had just celebrated my twelfth-and-a-half birthday, and I decided to try on the elaborate witch costume that I would sport every year. The dress, however, barely stretched over my newly formed hips.
“We’ll get you a new one,” my mother reassured me. But she couldn’t. That costume was a kids-sized extra-large.
In the following weeks, I decided I was too old to go trick-or-treating. Instead, I opted to stay home with my best friend, Yasmin, to hand out candy to the little trick-or-treaters.
The afternoon of the 31st arrived, and Yasmin and I dressed up in our coordinating doll costumes. We had ordered matching pink tutus online, but mine did not fit my growing body. Instead, I dressed in an adult-sized doll costume that I found at the mall, which consisted of a figure-hugging grey collared dress and knee-high socks.
I wore straight hair and three burns on my forehead, beautifully created by a cheap hair iron, complemented with vivid ruby lipstick and deep kohl eyeliner that my mother helped me apply. I spent half an hour in my bathroom admiring myself in the mirror. I looked at the way the tight, grey fabric sat on my brand new waist and realized how slender my legs looked below the mid-thigh cutoff of my dress. When I looked in that mirror, I felt a strange type of happiness, admiring the beautiful woman in front of me yet unable to process that it was me.
It was 8 p.m., and the frequency of little bodies knocking at my door for candy began to fade. My parents had just come home from taking my little siblings trick-or-treating, and Yasmin and I headed to the living room to begin our night-long Halloween movie marathon.
The climax of Halloweentown, our third movie of the night, was interrupted by a sudden knocking. Yasmin and I stared at each other.
“You shouldn’t open it,” she urged me. “Your parents told you not to open the door again tonight. It could be weirdos.”
I knew she was right, but the unfamiliar sense of free will overruled my better judgment. The door swung open, unveiling bright white masks on the faces of two teenage boys. They must have been at least 14. Yasmin rushed over to my side.
“Trick or treat,” said one of the boys. I placed a bag of skittles in each of their plastic bags.
“The one in the grey’s pretty hot,” said the other boy to his friend in a loud, obvious whisper.
“Hey, I heard that!” Yasmin shot at him.
“We’re only 13, you know. You could get in trouble for that. It’s creepy.” I contributed.
But we weren’t 13, we were only twelve-and-a-half. And before I could say another word, the boys were gone.
I didn’t find it creepy. I do now. But while those teenage boys were hitting on a 12-year-old at 11 at night, all I could do was feel an unexplained sense of happiness.
I looked at my clean face and baggy pajamas in the mirror later that night. I pushed my shirt inwards so that it sat on my newly-formed waist.
“That’s me. My body,” I thought to myself.