fireworks on a friday night

A Halloween Story

Hannah Chung

You might think that October 30th seems quiet in comparison to the ruckus of Halloween
night, but in truth it’s the busiest day of the year. That is, if you’re the host of the annual
Halloween party (me, Amber Lawrence) or if you’re going (anyone alive between the ages of 14
and 18 who has a social life).
For sure, it’s technically not supposed to happen. After the incident two years ago when
Eve Thomas “accidentally” pushed Jon Abramsky down two flights of stairs and he ended up
with his head in an overripe pumpkin, breaking his nose in the process, the local police
department decided it just wasn’t a good idea to allow a houseful of high schoolers to party on
Halloween night into the early hours.
So, yes, the party’s technically banned. But that’s just a technicality, like other
technicalities. Take it like Eve Thomas takes the legal drinking age. Did I mention she drove
Abramsky and his broken nose to the nearest hospital while she was drunk on four shots of
So the show goes on, because like I always say, “tradition goes hard”. Just without
Thomas or Abramsky, because broken noses are never in.
I mean, obviously, the Halloween party is a tradition. A well-loved one, if I say so myself.
It is the epitome of teen recklessness, and combined with the abundance of costumes, sugar
and cheap alcohol, it’s the perfect night to be a perfect nightmare.

That leads us into my bedroom, Thursday, October 30th, 9 PM. I’m just stating facts
when I say high school has been my bitch. And I know you hear this in every high school flick
ever written by middle-aged script authors who obviously didn’t have friends when they were
teenagers, but I’m being sincere when I say that high school has treated me well.
Here’s to another night of party prepping with, dare I say, the van der Woodsens and
Waldorfs of Kennedy High School. If there’s anything I can do well besides, well, life, it’s
throwing a party with my girls: Katy Barlowe, Jenna-May Hawk, and my BFF since kindergarten,
Vanessa Caddel. From drinks to food to setting up the lights, we’ve got it covered and perfected
to a T.

Flash forward 24 hours and the party’s started. The food has been catered, candy’s
here, the pool is lit up (usually at least one person gets pushed in at around midnight), colored
fixtures scatter purple light across the living room, the fireworks have been set up for midnight,
alcohol has been procured (compliments of Vanessa’s older brother), and people are bustling in
— cowgirls, Disney princesses, frat boys, bunnies, and the occasional Mean Girls trio.
At 10 PM, Vanessa and I watch from the living room as Gigi Tuffin, dressed as a black
cat (like she was last year and the year before that), slinks into the room, cheeks flushed red
and mascara already smeared.
Vanessa nudges me as Lucas Mellon follows her closely into the hall, tapping her
shoulder. She turns around laughing and he whispers something to her. They both crack up and
I shoot Vanessa a look.

“I hate men,” I say lightly as I pass her my drink. I’m only half joking when I say that,
because, honestly, men are the scum of the earth. It’s just a known fact, probably a scientific
one too. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote a thesis on the statement.
“Ditto.” Vanessa says. Duh.

I approach them smiling, sliding into Lucas’s arms coyly and stealing a kiss. Gigi smiles
tightly as she watches us.
“Hey babe,” he says like he always does, but this time his voice has an edge to it.
“Meet me upstairs in five?” I ask nonchalantly.
“Uh… yeah. Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair and I know he’s nervous. “I’ll see
you later then, Gigi, yeah?”
Gigi looks surprised for half a second, but replies, “Oh yeah, of course. Bet I’ll push you
into the pool later.”
Lucas smiles. “I’ll pull you in with me, watch.”

He makes his way up to my room with me, face unreadable and his lips pressed together
as he climbs the stairs.
I sit on the chair in front of my vanity and Lucas sits silently on the bed. After applying
another coat of MAC’s Russian Red onto my lips, I turn around and look at him.
If you haven’t noticed already, I say things like they are. Straight up. Bluntly, sometimes,
if need be. The first issue of Cosmopolitan I ever read said it’s because I’m a Sagittarius, and
ever since then I’ve read their horoscopes religiously.

“So,” I say.
“So?” He repeats.
“So nothing. What’s up with Gigi Tuffin?”
“Nothing. Just a nice girl. Plays on the soccer team.”
“Well, I mean, even if you had something with Gigi, it doesn’t really matter. I hope it
works out, if it is something. I mean it, really, because, to be honest, I don’t think I have feelings
for you anymore, Lucas.”
He looks up at me almost balefully. Silence nearly fills the room before he opens his

“Amber– what? So… so, is it over? Are you saying we’re over?”
“I mean,” I pause. I pride myself on being intuitive about relationships and emotions, so
this is definitely a surprise. I’d thought the feeling of discontent was mutual, especially after the
encounter with Gigi in the hallway. “I think–”

The lights go out and the room is suddenly dark. Drunken shouts of confusion drift up
with the lingering music and my ringer starts to beep, the screen glowing ‘VANESSA’.
I accept the call. “Ness? What’s happening?”
“I don’t know– the lights went out. I think some people are trying to fix it but in the
meanwhile I need candles just in case. Everyone should probably go outside, there should be
fireworks in a while anyway. I don’t know where your mom’s newer candles are? Did she move
them? Also, oh God, I forgot to tell you, Eve Thomas walked in. I told her to leave but she says

she has to talk to you? Just get down here. I’ll tell Lucas to get out once you’re down here. Oh,
also, I think Katy called her dad about the lights and he might have called the police. I don’t
know. Just get down here bae.”
She hangs up and I walk out the door. “Uh, Lucas, do you wanna come down? Lights
are gonna be fixed soon though, hopefully.”
Sirens wail in the distance as Lucas shakes his head. “No, I’ll be down soon. Um, I need
to respond to a text really quick.”
“Okay, cool. We can continue our conversation later, because I mean… we weren’t
done, right?”
“Yeah. Definitely.”

I head downstairs to Vanessa and join the crowd of buzzed and slightly confused
teenagers outside. Vanessa walks towards me and gestures towards the police car parked in
the driveway. This isn’t the first time this has happened and honestly, I don’t think it’ll be the last.
Having the cops pull up at the party is on its way to becoming a tradition, just from how
frequently it’s been happening. I mean… tradition goes hard. If anything, I’m consistent. And so
are the cops.
“Miss Amber Lawrence.” the officer says. “This isn’t’t the first time this has happened, is
it? I knew I would have to drive down tonight. Could I have your license for identification,
“Oh, yeah, of course.”
“Can’t have a quiet night in this neighborhood.”
“Could I go get my wallet? My license is in there.” Every year when the cops pull up I go
to the county jail and pay the bail, Vanessa picks me up and we party until dawn hits.

I walk back into the house and up the stairs.
I open the door and switch on the lights, grabbing my wallet from my vanity. If I’m being
honest, I barely passed my license test. At least I look exactly symmetrical in my ID. I almost
leave but do a double take, seeing red in my peripheral vision.

Two bodies are sprawled across my bed, bleeding profusely, scarlet stained across my
white sheets.
I nearly think they’re mannequins and this is an elaborate prank, but the scent of iron
and blood assures me that someone, to be more precise, two certain someones, are dead and
lying in the bed I had occupied not twelve hours ago.
I sweep my eyes across the rest of the dim room. The window is open, curtains flailing
against the wind.
Slowly, I approach the two, praying, though I don’t know what for. Nothing changes the
fact that there are two cadavers in the same room as me and what looks like a gallon of blood
on the sheets and carpet.
Hands shaking, I move the blonde hair, sticky with blood, out of one of the bodies’ faces.
Eve Thomas’s dead eyes bore into my ceiling. I stifle a scream and turn the other body’s
head towards me.
My heart drops and so does my wallet, hitting the carpeted floor.

Lucas Mellon, dead as a golden doorknob, lying with Eve Thomas in my bed. I scream
this time, out of some reflex I didn’t know I had before. I hold Lucas’s head in my hands,
adrenaline pulsing through my veins like liquid ice.
I brush his face with my fingers and they come back sticky, the color a sultry red I know
too well.
I turn his face and read the scribbled writing in red lipstick off his other cheek — my red
lipstick. MAC Russian Red
Sweet invite. I had fun. -Jon Abramsky
The first of the fireworks go off in blinding white and fill the air with the smell of sulfur.