The Halloween Before Everything Changed

He wanted to make Halloween special for Pia and Angelika. His momma had given him some money, so he had bundled his sisters on the 22 bus and taken them to the dollar store in Japantown

Angelika found a sparkling wand with silver ribbons and a star-shaped button on the handle. If you pressed the button, it played “You Light Up My Life” and turned colours. She waved it in a dangerously wide circle and proclaimed that she was going to be a Sparkle Fairy, whatever that was.

Pia decided she was going to be a ninja turtle, Donatello by preference. She had found a purple bandana and purple sweat bands and was engaged in trying to detach the handle from a cheap mop when Darnell rounded her up. “Darnell, can you help me turn this into a bo staff?” She always said “bo staff”—never staff or bo, even though Darnell tried to tell her this was redundant.

“Sure, Pia, but after we pay for it,” he said, plucking the mop from her hands.

“What are you going to be this year?” she asked him as they made their way through the tiny crowded aisles to the front of the store.

“Nothing,” he said. “I’m too old to go trick or treating. Momma said.”

Pia made a face. “I’m never going to get too old go trick or treating.”

“You have to go trick or treating,” said Angelika. “We always go trick or treating.”

Pia nodded. “Since forever.”

Angelika poked him with her star wand. “I will make you four! Then you can go trick or treating with us.”

“Okay,” said Darnell, humouring her. “I’m four. What now?”

Angelika smiled smugly. “Now I’m older ‘n you so’s you have to do what I say. I’m your big sister.”

Pia grinned. “Me too! I’m your big sister too. Now we both get to boss you around.”

Angelika continued. “And that means you have to be a Sparkle Knight to guard me.”

“Already do that,” said Darnell.

“I need another ninja turtle for my turtle gang,” said Pia. “You can be Leonardo, because you aren’t cool enough to be Michelangelo or Raphael. You are bossy like Leonardo.”

“But he is my Sparkle Knight,” wailed Angelika.

“Tell you what,” said Darnell. “I will be a Sparkle Turtle Ninja to guard Angi and to fight next to Pia.”

Pia added green nail polish to his basket, and dragged him to the front of the store. “This is going to be the best Halloween ever!”