“Because we don't do it here. Halloween is NOT an Australian holiday.” “So what!?” “No.” “You do that to everything!” “Do what?” “Just say no and think that's going to be the end of the subject.” “It is the end of the subject.” “You're impossible!” Jess stormed away making sure to slam the door twice on her way through to the bedroom. It was true that trick or treating wasn't really an Australian holiday but Pete didn't get it, more kids were doing it every year. It was hard for their kids to miss out. The year before after her big compromise had gone over like a lead balloon she'd made a promise to her kids and she didn't intend to break it...
It was Halloween and Pete had put his foot down. No trick or treating! It was up to her to do something to try and appease their picky progeny. She'd bought lots of lollies and she encouraged her little lovelies to dress up, telling them they were going to play their own game of trick or treat for Halloween. It was a poor substitute but it was better than nothing. The kids dressed in their finery and stood in the living room with their pillowcases eagerly awaiting their surprise.
“Here's the idea. You're going to love this.” She watched as hope if not actual enthusiasm flashed across their faces. “I want you to close your eyes and wait a few minutes and then knock on the first bedroom door.” “You serious?” the eldest and most unenthused of the kids asked. At eleven he was just learning the joy of sarcasm and had an astute radar of all things dumb. “It'll be fun.” She gave him the look reserved for older brothers about to ruin his younger brother and sister's fun. At least they didn't see the roll of his eyes just before he closed them.
Jess ran up the hallway and disappeared behind one of the bedroom doors, flopped on a witch's hat and stuck on a fake mole. “Trick or treat.” they called sadly. She opened the door with a deep cackle and dropped handfuls of treats into their bags.“Close your eyes again.” she whispered.
Behind every door in the house the kids found Jess. Admittedly wearing a different hat each time and always offering goodies but still, she was just their own Mum, they didn't even get to leave their house. They did console themselves with all their lollies but it was abundantly clear how disappointed they were. “Next year you can trick or treat for real.” she promised in a rash and not thought through effort to make them smile. “Daddy won't let us.” “You leave Daddy to me. Next year, I promise.”
Pete wasn't budging on Halloween, again. Normally she wouldn't go against him, especially with the children. She wasn't a serious underminer or anything. Their marriage was built on mutual trust and respect wasn't it? Of course...unless of course one of the marriage partners was acting like an ass. “Have a good night.” She kissed him.
Sometimes things just fall into place. A husband lays down the law but then goes to work for the night shift and the rest of the house is left with say, a few hours to themselves...It was perfect wasn't it? No one would have to be any the wiser. The kids could put on their costumes and run up and down the street for an hour or so. They'd have their lollies mostly eaten before bedtime hopefully. “I'll call you.” Pete hadn't left. “Why?” Jess tried to keep the look of panic from showing. “No reason.” he said frowning. “I always call you.” “Oh yeah of course.” That might put a slight spoke in the works but it was still doable. They'd just have to wait until after his call. No big deal.
The kids looked like scary little angels. Their happy faces made any feeling of residual guilt that was lying beneath the surface of Jesse's good mood just melt away. “Are we really going this time?” The littlest girl asked. “Yes we're really going.” “Can I walk with my friends?” “Yes you can walk with your friends. We all will.” Jess saw the oh man look run across her son's handsome face but he kept it to himself knowing he was lucky to be going at all.
The call came but other kids kept coming to THEIR house. There was no choice really other than to let the kids go on their own. They'd be safe. They'd lived in the same street for years and knew all the neighbours. “Hold your little sister's hand and watch your brother.” Jess said adding the final statement with a pointing finger towards the middle child, the one that attracted trouble like a magnet. “We will.” And they were gone.
Jess was sitting in the quiet house eating remnants of chocolate by the time Pete got home from work. “Hey.” she said innocently as he kissed her. “Hey. How was your night?” “Uneventful. How was yours?” “Busy.”
Jess closed her eyes that night with mixed feelings. Guilt was swirling though her in waves but she managed to offset that with the fact she'd kept the promise she'd made to her kids. No one got hurt did they? When she woke the next morning the guilt was gone, washed away with the normal school day preparations.
The best part about Pete doing the night shift was the leisurely morning they got to have together while the kids were at school. They were in the living room relaxing with morning tea and a DVD.
Jess's jaw dropped as a car pulled up at the front of their house. “What's wrong?” Pete asked, correctly judging his wife's horror. He stood, knocking over his plate in his effort to see what had captured and was holding his wife's attention. “What would they be doing here?” Jess was stunned. She'd never known a school principal to actually come to someone's house before. Was that even allowed? What had their son done to be brought home by the principal? “What on earth?” Mirroring her thoughts, Pete leapt to the door and threw it open. His eyes were on their oldest son's face but his question was to the principal. “What's happened?” “No one's hurt. I just needed to talk to you about something that concerned me.” “Oh?” Jess's niggles of guilt came back with a vengeance twisting and griping at her as she watched her son's guilty face. This had to have something to do with the trick or treating. She didn't know what to do, what to say. “Cup of tea Mr Whitby?” That's it, give him a reason to stay longer you stupid woman she chided herself. “Thank you.” Mr Whitby accepted her offer, taking the seat Pete offered. Jess tried to listen to the living room conversation while she rattled around the kitchen looking for a cup. Did she get him a cup and was there another matching saucer? A mug? She settled on the last decent cup and saucer and then she heard the words. “Trick or treating.” The last cup and saucer went crashing into the sink, smashing into pieces. Crap, a mug it was then. Or she could leave by the back door and start running... “Jess?” Pete called from the other room. “Coming. Just broke a cup.”
All eyes were on her as she entered the room with the mug. “Hope you don't mind not having a cup and saucer. Maybe I should freshen the tea.” Jess dived in to grab the pot. “Leave it.” Pete's voice was doing that thing. That underlying I'm going to kill you when this man goes thing. “But I...I'm just going to make a fresh pot.” “The tea isn't important.” “It's fine the way it is.” Mr Whitby took the mug. “Mr Whitby had something brought to his attention this morning.” “Oh?” “Uh huh. Tell your mother why we're all here.” Pete said to the child that was trying to be invisible in the corner of the sofa.” “Which bit?” “The bit where our next door neighbour gave you twenty dollars.” Jess's eyes widened. “Who gave you twenty dollars?” “Mr Kumar.” “Why?” Jess asked. Her son looked shiftily at his Dad. “Answer the question.” Pete barked. “He didn't have any lollies.” “I know this might seem like it has nothing to do with school but I was concerned. The fact that the children were trick or treating on their own especially is disturbing.” “Is Jack in trouble? At school I mean?” Jess asked. “No. I was just bringing this to your attention. Although, you have to know that the kids are not allowed to bring notes that big to the school canteen unless it's for a family multiple lunch order.” “Yes I know.” Jess added resisting the urge to glare at her son. “I think we can take it from here.” Pete stood and offered Mr Whitby a handshake. “I appreciate you taking the time. Will you be taking Jack back to school?” “Yes. If that's ok with you.” “Fine.” Perfect, Jess thought. My ass is grass.
“Can I say something?” Jess asked from her spot in the corner. “Not yet.” “I just want to say one thing. OW!” A line of fire spread across both cheeks of her naked bottom as Pete smacked her hard with the large wooden spoon. “Ok. ok.” Another smack had her standing still and silent. “What were you thinking?” “Do you want me to answer?” “The question was rhetorical. We both know you weren't thinking. I can't believe you went against my wishes without even discussing it with me. I am hurt and upset with you and I feel like we've lost trust here. You totally undermined me. You taught our kids that if they don't like the rules they can thumb their nose at them...and me. Now you can say what you have to.” “I'm sorry. I didn't know about the money. I want you to know that. I just thought it was a bit of fun. I thought you were being too hard.” “Letting them go was bad enough but why didn't you at least go with with them?” “I had to give out the lollies here. I thought I could trust them.” “Not a nice feeling is it?” “No. I am sorry.”
Pete took Jess's hand and bent her over the back of the sofa. He slid her panties down and helped her to step out of them. “Be still.” He smoothed his hand over her soft skin before standing back and to the side where he bent his belt in two. Jess squeezed her eyes shut. She quite liked the belt after a warm up and rub. Not like this. She was almost on her toes and her bottom was raised high, stretched so he could access the crease beneath her cheeks. His aim was to make sitting difficult in the foreseeable future and he didn't disappoint. Each strike of the belt burned like the dickens and had her dancing on her tippy toes. By the last she was a sobbing mess. When the belt landed on the cushion in front of her she turned into his arms. “I'm so sorry.” Jess sobbed over and over, clinging to her husband for grim death, soaking up the comfort his warm embrace offered. “It's ok, it's over.” “So if I go with them next year...”
My question is… What is Jess and Pete’s next door neighbours name?
If you have trouble commenting with the google+ please just email me your answer and it will be counted :) constancemasters at gmail dot com