'Frankenstein Lives Across the Tracks' by Lisa Ferranti
I’d made plans to meet Victor from science class at the railroad crossing the night of trick-or-treat. We’d dissected a worm together, and the moment he handed me the scalpel, I decided he would be my first kiss. Kids in sixth grade were doing that—planning first kisses, girls mostly asking boys, and scheduling it. Misty thought it was a bad idea, but I hurried her past a long stretch of houses, shivering from a chill in the air.
My favorite pillowcase was covered with colorful cartoon ponies, which at age 12 was embarrassing. That Halloween, I instead used a spare white one from the linen closet to collect my loot.
We stopped at Mrs. Saunders house to see what she was handing out. She deposited a bruised apple into my pillowcase, along with brochures warning against devil worship. She smiled at me in my princess costume and glared at Misty, dressed as a punk rocker, spiked hair sprayed purple, dark eyeliner, choker.
“The old bat,” Misty whispered. She tossed her apple into the storm drain, the too-sweet scent of overripe fruit lingering.
We hit up a few more houses for candy, and then I grabbed Misty’s arm. We were only allowed to trick-or-treat on our street and four blocks over. Never across the railroad tracks, which is where Victor lived. I knew the rules, but I turned right and walked in the direction of the tracks, pulling Misty along.
“Look at all the candy we’re missing,” she whined. I tossed her a Snickers bar from my bag.
Victor stood up ahead with a few other boys. Misty made big eyes at me, the whites glistening in the shine of a streetlight.
Two screws jutted from the sides of Victor’s neck, his face an olive sheen of grease paint.
“Hey, Frank,” I said, smiling.
“Hey, princess.” He reached out a finger, touched the tip of my tiara.
He and I moved off a few steps from Misty and the other boys, out of the ring of the streetlight.
“Anyone want to trade Starbursts for Milky Ways?” Misty asked. The group formed a circle and handed candy back and forth.
“Ready?” I asked Victor. He nodded. I inched up on my toes as he bent down, the fabric of my dress silky against my bare legs. Our lips touched and for a slippery second, I tasted juicy pear mingled with watermelon from my lip-gloss.
We pulled back and that was it. It was done. A train whistled in the distance.
“See you at school, ‘Stein,” I said.
He smiled and his green skin made me think of the frogs we would dissect next.
Misty and I walked back toward my house. After a block, I grabbed her bag and dumped my candy into it. I kept only one watermelon Jolly Rancher, circled my fingers around it. With the other hand I lifted the hem of my gown and sprinted down the dark street.