Pumpkin Carving
by LL Adams
Halloween was just another stupid holiday to Jim. But to Tanya, it was a wonderful season filled with
happy autumn memories from her childhood.

Her mother didn’t have much money, tending bar in a small town like this would do that, so each
year she made Tanya’s costume. It wasn’t tacky hand me down stuff, it was always a hand made
beauty. She had one favorite that stuck out in her memory, the one her mother had made when
Tanya was only eight. It was a huge pumpkin. That year Tanya was black, and orange and
smiles all over, as her mother had said.

But since she had married Jim, holidays weren’t anything special. He perked up around Christmas each
year, but always seemed disappointed by his presents, or the weather, or something else.

He hated the cold, the snow and all that. Since he always hated the heat and dryness of summer,
Tanya held out hope that he might enjoy fall. The cool air, not too cold, the colors changing on the
trees, before the leaves had to be raked, and all the kids in the neighborhood playing happily and being
polite. All the children eager for the coming candy storm, and trying to get in points with the man at the
North Pole even before the snow came.

Jim didn’t like kids, and Tanya had resigned herself to not having any, forced to live through the ones in
her neighborhood. That was why it was so important to her to decorate the house as wonderfully as she
could at Halloween.

She didn’t like the gory things that you see everywhere now. The zombies and headless ghouls just
weren’t her cup of tea. Jim liked scary things, so he could have them.  But he didn’t really care how she
decorated, nor even if she did.

Tanya had been busy all day, streaming fake cobwebs everywhere, and placing small ghosts and
witches (all very cute) that had words like BOO and HAPPY HALLOWEEN on them in the windows.  As she
placed one on the doorway glass, she caught a glimpse of herself in the reflection. Her pretty pink blouse
was ruined, and there was blood coming from her nose. She saw the black eye she knew she would be
nursing for a few days. Her normally perfect brown hair had clumps of some dark liquid causing it to mat
and stick to her face and forehead. Oh what a mess she was.

Jim had hit her before, a lot harder. He wasn’t really a bad person, and it never really bothered her. Jim
loved her, just like her dad loved her mom. But still, Jim had never gotten upset at her for decorating
before. It was one of the few things he let her have.

When she had announced it was time to carve the pumpkins though, he got upset.  Something about a
game he was watching, and how she was bothering him and how she had ruined his life.  He started
hitting her, and kept going. Threw her right into the table, right through all the silverware she was using,
right through the pumpkins.

The pumpkins had exploded on the ground, she had seen them explode like that before, when her
mother used to let her drop old ones off the roof. Orange guts and seeds everywhere. As she lay there,
trying to find a dry spot to place her hand on so she could get up, that was the only thing that really
upset her. The pumpkins hadn’t hurt anyone.

Halloween never hurt anyone.

She wondered who looked more surprised at the knife plunged deep into Jim’s chest. Clearly his face had
a look of shock on it, but Tanya imagined she looked pretty amazed herself.  Tanya didn’t want to dwell
too much on the problems they had had earlier. It was time to decorate. As she made her way back into
the kitchen, she was more than a little annoyed to see that Jim had fallen out of the chair at the table

With a sigh she hoisted him back up, wanting him to get a full view of the pumpkin carving equipment.
He had broken all the pumpkins, but not her tools.

Gently she rubbed the hair from his face, and then took a small marker from the table. She wanted to
draw her design, a happy smiling face, on Jim’s before she began.

As her mother always said, you had to make sure you planned your decorating before you started,
or, as Jim had said, ‘measure twice, cut once’.