Apple picking. Cider drinking. Pumpkin carving. Baking cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, loaves of sticky, crumbly breads. These were things that had to be done. All at once. I wanted the feeling of fall on my mittened fingertips. I wanted marshmallows floating in mugs of hot cocoa, peering out of the top like little eyeballs, watching and waiting to be chewed up and swallowed. I wanted the wind to blow in my face and make my cheeks cold and red. Raindrops on my glasses. To walk inside any building, anywhere, and for my face to get redder from the warmth. To connect, maybe with you or with him or with her or with anything at all.
We try too hard to get back there.
I needed it and I needed it instantaneously. I took the day off from school and I spent it alone, driving to the cider mill. I brought my green glow-in-the-dark ghost purse. I wanted apples and pumpkins and things made of apples and pumpkins. I found two pumpkins. They were both orange and round and looked just how you would imagine pumpkins would look. The apples were too expensive and I could not understand why I could not pick my own. And why would an apple cost so much money? A huge crock pot of cider sat near the exit and I ladled some into a white paper cup. Cinnamon sticks floated near the top of the pot. The donuts were not fresh, but they were covered in sugar and cinnamon, so I grabbed one with a crinkly piece of parchment paper. I paid for the donut and the cider, walked outside and got into my car and then sat there. I ate the donut and drank the cider until it was completely gone. I started up the car and drove home, passing by fields of pumpkins and signs for fields of pumpkins and children walking home from school.
And I felt like it was not enough.
On Halloween night, I stood in the kitchen, baking pumpkin muffins out of a box, and covering the kitchen countertops in powdered sugar. I laid out old newspapers and brown paper bags across the table and set out different sized knives, like preparing for the pumpkin’s surgery. I sat near the vent in the wall to keep warm and I drank half a bottle of cheap red wine while scooping out the insides of one of the pumpkins. I wanted it to be simple, so I carved a tree into the pumpkin. I found a package of tea lights in my bedroom and carefully placed one inside the carved pumpkin. Then, I turned off all the lights and looked at the empty tree. I took a picture. I moved across the room to get a different angle. I took another picture.
I drank more wine. I put on a black dress that I never got to wear and teased my hair. I put on dark red lipstick and painted fake blood around my neck to look like my head had been cut off. I put on lots of black eyeshadow and rubbed it around my eyes, so I would look like a dead person. I took a picture.
I went to a party and made fun of the music. I flirted with someone’s boyfriend. I drank someone’s expensive vodka that they left on the table. I drank my own vodka. Words formed in my mouth, but I drank them down my throat so I could come up with better words. I could tell no one was listening, so I said the words very loudly and then left. I drove around in the rain. I called him even though I didn’t want to call him. He smelled like cigarettes and wore gloves he got from his grandma last Christmas. We ate with friends. We left and I went home. I called him again and cried my whole drunk self into the phone. I drank more and cried harder until there was not a drop left.
Someone else called me and he said, “Are you okay?”
I said, “No, I am not okay.”
Then, the sky got lighter and lighter and suddenly it was not Halloween anymore. And suddenly it was Thanksgiving. And then it was my birthday. And then it was winter.
Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katiemcmahon/sets, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.