Halloween is the black hole that sucks you into the holiday season, spitting you out on New Year’s Day a few pounds heavier and a few dollars lighter. Indulging in candy and cocktails while dressing questionably would be considered inappropriate on any other night, but on the last night of October it’s completely acceptable.
Isobel rarely gets into the spirit of the holiday, but she dresses up and makes festive cookies so that her kids will grow up with happy Halloween memories. Esthie loves to dress up, but usually spends the last few days of October sewing together looks for her friends and family members, living little time for her to make one for herself.
This is the first year that Esthie doesn’t have plans to go out on Halloween night. She and Dominick are still working on their relationship and making plans as a couple has become tricky. After tossing and turning in the wee hours of the morning, Esthie had texted him to ask what his plans were, hoping he would respond with an invitation or suggestion.
It’s almost noon and Esthie has yet to receive a text back from him, so her contingency plan is to text her single friend, Lindsay, to see what’s going on around town. She is sitting at the table in Isobel’s formal dining room, annoyed by the cheery yellow wallpaper with blue paisleys, brightened by rays of sun creeping in through the French doors. She is holding up the jacket of the blue pantsuit she is tailoring for her niece Emmie when her smartphone chimes, indicating she has a text message.
“Wow,” Esthie mouths after checking it. She places her phone to the side of the sewing machine and signals to her sister.
“Was that him?” Iso asks, removing the left bud of her earphones to listen to her sister’s response. She is curled up at the head of the table with a mug of pumpkin spice flavored coffee, jamming to a nineties girl group playlist while her son enjoys his morning nap.
“Oh, I only get one ear?”
Iso rolls her eyes and removes the other bud. “So what was that wow about? Was it Dominick?”
Esthie turns back to the pantsuit. She took her final measurements this morning before Emmie went to school. The fit wasn’t bad, but not polished enough for a presidential candidate.
“Yes. I’m seriously over him right now.”
“What happened? I thought you guys were fine after the little hurricane honeymoon.” Hurricane Matthew just missed Miami-Dade County as it made landfall in Florida in mid-October. The city enjoyed a brief respite that week, weathering nothing more than the typical thunderstorm. Esthie spent the day at the apartment with Dominick primarily because she was concerned about Skimbleshanks’ anxiety, one of his many emotional issues.
“We were fine. Better than fine, actually. But then the next day he went into full Haiti hurricane relief mode and I just felt like I was in his way again.” Esthie runs the blue jacket through the machine, pulling off pins for what she hoped would be the last adjustment. “I just feel really guilty for making him choose between working to save the world and working on our relationship, but I also feel completely neglected when he’s immersed in his job, so I don’t really know where that leave me.”
Iso takes a sip from her mug before responding. “Why don’t you tell him these things?” After hours spent listening to Esthie’s relationship problems, the golden thread that Iso has found is that her sister has a no problem expressing her opinions, but she has a much more difficult time expressing her feelings.
“I do tell him things. I just don’t like to complain about relationship stuff while he’s dealing with craziness at work because I don’t want him to think I’m a nag.”
“Seriously, Esthie? Is that really the worst thing?” Isobel says, trying her best not to sound condescending.
Esthie places Emmie’s finished jacket next to the blonde wig at the end of the table closest to Iso and begins adjusting the length of Rudy’ long red tie.
“I still think you should have dressed them up as Princess Leia and Jabba the Hutt,” Esthie says, moving the conversation in a lighter direction.
“I’m not gonna dress my baby up as that creepy monster.”
“Really?” Esthie asks, holding up the red tie.
Iso laughs. “This political costume thing wasn’t my idea.” Emmie got her costume idea after attending a political rally with her grandmother. Iso spent days showing her different costume ideas to get her to change her mind, but all she wanted to wear was a blonde wig and blue pantsuit. “You can thank Marge for that one.”
“At what time is mommy dearest arriving?” Esthie and Marge aren’t seeing eye to eye regarding her decision to leave Dominick, so she would like to avoid a conversation with her mother at all costs.
“She should be here by the time Rudy wakes up from his nap.”
“Joy.” Esthie says sarcastically, throwing the finished red tie toward Iso’s side of the table. “Okay, well I’m gonna go out as soon as we finish trick or treating with the kids because I can’t deal with a slumber party slash relationship intervention tonight. It’s freakin’ Halloween. I’m gonna enjoy it while I still can.”
“K. What are your plans, by the way?” Isobel is trying to work another angle since Esthie is avoiding talking about Dominick’s text.
“I’m gonna go to Lincoln Road and meet up with Lindsay and them most likely.”
“Oh.” Iso responds, hiding her disapproval behind her oversized mug. Lindsay is the last friend Esthie keeps in touch with from her party girl days and Esthie only makes plans with her when she wants to make a guy jealous, a rookie move in Isobel’s book.
“Seriously Iso, I can’t deal with you and Mom ganging up on me about Dominick today. I know you guys think I’m running away from my problems like I always do, but I’m really not. I just need to sit in my emotions and figure out what I’m gonna do with my life and I can’t do that if I’m around him right now.”
Marge makes it no secret that she thinks Dominick is the guy for Esthie. Before meeting him, Esthie had a string of bad boyfriends that left her mother and sister wondering if she would ever find someone that valued her. Then she came home from India with a boyfriend that treated her right and they thought their prayers had been answered. Their messianic view of Dominick drives Esthie crazy and makes it difficult for her to talk to them about her relationship without getting defensive.
“Alright, I’ll change the subject if she tries to bring it up.”
Esthie picks up her sewing machine and walks toward the hallway.
“Honestly, she’ll probably be too busy cleaning my house and micromanaging me with the kids to deal with you and your issues today.”
“That would be great,” Esthie says.