Once again it’s time for a fun adventure. Enjoy my story below, then follow the links to other stories of participating authors in the blog hop. Leave us comments. We love hearing from you!
The Life of a Pumpkin
Three months ago I was a seed. For eighty-two days I’ve grown, but at a slower rate than the rest of the crop. As the summer heat migrated south, fall’s coolness brought excitement to the pumpkin patch. Rumors spread among the pumpkins that people would soon come to select their favorites to take home and decorate – to become part of the family. This was ‘the season of the pumpkin,’ it was said.
Of course the biggest pumpkins bragged about how they would be taken first. Lester was the largest among us, and why wouldn’t he go first? He was huge, with a spotless outer coat. I was only half his size, and I had spots. Who was going to want a scrawny, flawed pumpkin?
I knew the destiny of flawed and unwanted pumpkins. Once the weather turned from cool to cold, whatever pumpkins were left in the field would remain, rejected and alone, until they rotted away. This would surely be my lot.
Finally the day arrived. The first people showed and took two, large, beautiful specimens, neither of which was Lester. He went the next day and they had to use a wheel barrel to haul him off. Within a few days the crowds increased and soon pumpkins left by the dozens every day. Weeks passed and to my delight I continued to grow. I finally reached a size I was proud of. But my spots had also grown.
The story was that people only came for a short period of time. I had begun to accept I would never leave the pumpkin patch when the unthinkable happened.
A boy with a green-hooded sweatshirt picked me up. “Greg, over here! This one’s perfect!”
Greg wore a yellow, short-sleeved shirt, which was the only thing that distinguished him from the other boy. “He’s all spotted. It’s the ugliest pumpkin I’ve ever seen, Paul.”
Paul wasn’t deterred. “Think how spooky that’ll make him. We’ll decorate him and he’ll be the scariest pumpkin ever.”
Scariest? That sounded amazing! Take that Lester! He might be the biggest but I was going to be the scariest.
Greg and Paul took me home and for three days I sat by myself on the front porch. I wondered about their grand plan. I felt abandoned and my excitement waned. Did they forget about me?
I learned one thing useful during this time. Paul had a mole on his upper lip. That’s how I could tell them apart.
Finally, as the sun stood straight above, Greg hauled me inside to decorate me. I was so excited I thought pumpkin seeds sprouted inside me. I would soon be scary! This was gong to make all of those hot, agonizing days of growing to maturity worth it.
Paul began to draw. He lightly glided his gray stick across my ticklish shell. At first it felt good but soon turned into sheer torture. His slow, meticulous strokes seemed to never end.
Suddenly a sharp pain stabbed me at the top. Greg circled my stem then ripped it from my body. I had been wrong; the tickling was not the worst experience possible. They were just getting started.
Paul and Greg took turns ripping out my insides, a fistful at a time. There was no gentleness or love to their actions. They ripped like they didn’t care; oblivious to the pain they inflicted.
Once my insides were empty and my inner core smooth, Greg started in on me again with the knife. He cut jagged lines then holes, each excruciating stab and pull ripped away at my shell. I wanted to scream, and even though they had created a mouth for me I couldn’t protest.
It ended like it started – abruptly. They replaced my top and returned me to the front porch. Greg gave Paul a high-five – apparently I was as ugly and horrifying as they had planned.
I sat the rest of the day trying to take pride that I was part of a family and not alone in a field rotting away. In all of the excitement at the pumpkin patch, no one mentioned the grueling transformation process. I was relieved to have it behind me.
When darkness came Paul and Greg returned. They removed my top and placed a small, waxy candle inside. ‘I wonder what that’s for?’ I asked myself. Greg pressed a button on a red stick and a flame of fire jumped out. His lit the candle and replaced the lid.
It was a chilly evening and at first the fire inside me was warm and inviting. After a while the comfort of the fire turned to agonizing torment.
Later they brought out other decorations to put around me. Two skeletons, a fake black cat, a hand that sprang from a chest when someone got near, and a large, hairy spider that glowed an eerie red. Another high-five between the brothers brought me no satisfaction. I wanted relief from the fire.
Finally, Paul lifted my top and blew out the candle. The night brought cold and frost and at times I wished I had a fire inside to warm me. I remembered how painful it had been and was thankful the fire was out.
Every night for a week the two boys lit the candle and let me suffer for several hours. At last the big night came they kept talking about – Halloween. I wanted to be as excited about it as they were, but every other time I had gotten excited about something I ended up disappointed. Their eager anticipation created anxiety for me.
Halloween was like any other day and I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. The sun began to set and Paul and Greg came out to light my candle. That’s when I realized the seriousness of the Halloween celebration that people observed.
Paul wore an oblong, black hat with pointed ends, a patch over one eye, a white baggy shirt and baggy pants. His left hand was gone and in it’s place was a hook. Greg had a bandage wrapped around his head with blood oozing through. He wore a neck brace, a cast on his right arm and another on his left leg, which was propped straight out as he sat in a wheelchair.
I instantly felt ashamed at my anger toward them. Paul had cut off his hand and poked out his eye. Greg had broken his leg and arm and did something severe to his head – it was still bleeding. My suffering was minor compared to what they must have experienced. They were as committed to this holiday as they insisted I be. Suddenly I felt proud that I was such an integral part of their ritual.
Paul pushed Greg as they left to go forth and celebrate the holiday. For the next several hours all sorts of strange little people came by the house – most of them screaming in fright as the hand jumped from the chest. Many times I heard people say, “Oh, look how scary that pumpkin is!” I beamed with pride.
Many others were as committed to this holiday as Paul and Greg. I saw cuts, bruises, blood, extra appendages, transformed faces. Some had even turn into animals, monsters, and aliens. After seeing the way the children gave of their bodies to this holiday I wondered if any of these adult would sacrifice their children at the end of the night.
Hours later Greg and Paul returned with two large sacks. They were really excited about the candy, so I assumed they returned with more than their mom had given away.
The visitors slowed to a trickle then stopped altogether. It had been an exciting but exhausting night. I hoped I would get my candle extinguished soon, although I wasn’t going to complain after seeing how everyone else was willing to suffer for the occasion.
As surprising as everything about the evening had been, the biggest surprise came at the end. Paul exited the front door and picked me up. His patch was gone and his eye looked fine, so I concluded he hadn’t poked it out. Then I realized he had two hands. Where was the hook? Did he re-grow his hand? If so, maybe I could re-grow my insides. Hope sprouted where my insides had once resided.
Then another shock. Greg joined us without his wheelchair. How had his leg healed so quickly? And his arm! He carried a long stick with an arm that had been in a cast a few minutes ago. They had healed quickly. Maybe I would heal too!
Greg unwrapped the bandage from his head and other than a few small red spots it looked fine. I began to put the pieces together – they had only pretended to be hurt. But why? To mock my suffering? What a twisted sense of humor! Had all of the other children pretended too? My anger raged at this complex and cruel hoax.
When Paul blew out and removed the candle relief flooded me and I thought my days of suffering were behind me. Paul carried me to the street. Even after all of the suffering it felt good to be a part of the family, the tradition, the celebration.
Paul tossed me into the air and for the first time I felt free. Greg swung the bat and connected with full force. My shell caved and I soared through the air full of despair. My saviors from the pumpkin patch had finalized their abuse. They returned to the house, leaving me beaten and bruised in the street. Was this any worse than lying in the pumpkin field, alone, never to experience the joy of being selected? I doubted it. For months I had believed Halloween was the most exciting event, that I had been grown to be a part of the festivities. I wondered if all the other pumpkins had similar experiences as me. I supposed so.
I was disillusioned and even though I wished it all would end I didn’t give up hope. Was this really how I would go out – rotting in a street, alone?
A light came from a distance and slowly grew in size and intensity. Maybe this was someone coming to rescue me. Dare I hope? It was Halloween after all – a night of magic and fantasy! I wanted to believe. I tried to believe. My faith grew and by the time the light arrived I knew this was my chance to be renewed, reborn. What was the next step in the evening’s celebration?
Please enjoy some more stories from my friends!
Why Should I?, by Gina Fabio
Reaper, by Juneta Key
Snow White Tabloid Style, by Fannie Suto
Starving Artist, by Samantha Bryant
The Halloween Dance, by Barbara Lund
The Ghost In My Yard, by Elizabeth McCleary
Her Majesty, by Katharina Gerlach
Chris Bridges Posting Storytime Blog Hop. Give her shout out and say Hello!
Black Moon, by Lauren M. Catherine
Poe’s Heart, by J. Q. Rose
Hanks A Lot, by Joe Bouchard
In The Gray Lake, by Karen Lynn
The Right Honorable Brotherhood of Spirits, Poltergeists and Ghosts, by Vanessa Wells