The 1 year old boy looked up at his mother from his small crib style bed and said, “Trick or treee…” His mother called to her husband, excited by the few words her son spoke. Her husband rushed in so they could bask in the glow of their son’s spurt toward genius. The child pointed his small fingers toward the window and said it again, “Tick or tree..ee” and his parents gasped.
“What a smart kid we’ve got,” the father said. “But it’s Trick or Treat, son. Treat-t.” The mother scolded her husband. “Don’t criticize him, dear. At this age they are prone to develop phobias and esteem issues. Besides, he’s brilliant!”
The child looked up at his parent, unsure of what they were saying. He looked out the window, past the 2 ghost stickers and Halloween decorations. Outside, in the lawn, a giant pumpkin-shaped garbage bag was filled with leaves. Across the street were actual pumpkins, and more decorations. A witch weather vane spun from her pole in the neighbor’s lawn. The tree outside the window was now bare of all but a few orange and brown leaves. Its branches moved in the wind, and occasionally tapped on the window. He pointed outside again, but his parents left the room.
Night was falling. Halloween night, and the young couple went about getting ready for the holiday. This would be there first Halloween in this neighborhood, so they wanted to make a good impression. They had two bowls of candy ready and waiting, and they each donned a few Halloween props. They dressed their son up in a puffy pumpkin costume, as he stared up at them in disbelief. Were these people crazy? What was all this madness, the odd costumes, and antennae his dad was wearing? And what about the giant orange straightjacket they had him in? What’s the deal with that?
The moon disappeared behind thick clouds, and a heavy rain set in. The evening fun was going to be cut short. No more trick or treaters while the storm was on top of them. Thunder exploded overhead, the house shook and lightning flashed. The rain came down harder and harder, and the wind sent many Halloween decorations spinning down the street. A plastic skull was swept in the storm, and bounced off the living room window. It startled the family of three, then continued rolling down the street.
Eventually the power went out. Left in the dark with just 2 candles, they decided it was time for bed. When they tucked their son in his crib, he repeated “Trick or tree” again, his tiny fingers pointing outside. His mom and dad smiled and went off to bed.
Near midnight, a siren woke the parents. Their child had started banging on his toys, and was pressing down on a noise-maker that made an sounded awful. His mom checked on him and took away the toy. The trees outside were bending under the heavy storm, and lightning continued to snap and flash. The child tried again and again to say, “trick or tree” but the storm was too loud.
A tree branch smashed through the window and sent glass shards all over the floor. Rain started to splatter the room. The twisted branch reached deep inside and grabbed the young mother, circled her waist with his giant gnarled hand and snapped back. In a split second, she was gone. The tree took her as fast as a shark takes a fish.
The father came in to see about the commotion. The tree branch swung in hard and knocked him down. In one flash of lightning, he was gone too – taken by the knotty, disfigured hand of the tree.
The boy sat back and watch the tree eat his parents. He popped the pacifier in his mouth and sucked on it with rhythm. Curious, they didn’t listen to his warning. Hadn’t he been clear about the tricky tree? He had already seen it eat the neighbors. The boy shrugged. He wasn’t sure his parents had been all that sane anyway. He pulled up the blanket and went back to sleep.