Riya Abiram

Alberta had never enjoyed Halloween; every year, the memories she had tried so hard to repress from decades came back to torture her. Unable to bear her wandering thoughts any longer, she decided to sleep, hoping that her subconscious would be able to ward off the pain she had felt on the same day so many years ago. 

Halloween of 1958

Alberta found herself standing in the middle of the street in front of her childhood home. Though the memory had been over 60 years in the past, she remembered every detail of the house down to the cracks running through the walls after years of use. The old and grey ash trees with a fainted red swing hanging from the tallest branch, the browning grass shriveled from the dry weather and stress from constant trampling, the red paint chipping from the wooden roof, and everything else about the place that made her ache for it once again.   


But she recognized this scene. It was 3:44 pm on the 31st of October, the late afternoon sun glazing the city in hues of yellow and orange and the crisp leaves falling from the thin and bare trees dotting the yards. It was the day she had made one of the biggest mistakes of her life. In one minute exactly, he would walk out of his 6th-period class as he usually did, but without his usual mischievous smile or swaggered walk.  She had run across campus and waited excitedly outside his classroom when he had told her he had big news to share. It was no wonder he chose today of all days.  Alberta spent every Halloween with him, stealing candy and stashing it in piles across their rooms as children and watching comedy movies as he was scared of horror stories as teens. It was a day full of blissful memories, which is why she naively assumed his news had something to do with the obvious hints she had been dropping for years that she was in love with him. He finally exited the classroom, his bright eyes falling when he met her gaze. Slowly walking up to her, he spoke. 

“Hey Berrie,” he had said gently. His tone should have been enough for her to realize something was wrong. She laughed nervously. 

“Is everything alright? What did you want to talk about?” She asked, trying her best to stay calm. He hesitated for a moment, unwilling to look into her eyes. 

“I know we’ve been friends for a long time, and our relationship is important to me,” he stuttered, as if speaking rushed would make the situation go by quicker. “But my academics are also really important.” He stopped again, twiddling his fingers like he did whenever he had to tell his parents he got a B on his math test. 

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me,” she said, delusionally clinging on to the idea that the conversation was still going well. 

“Well, you know how I applied to that school across the country a year ago as a joke?” He glanced at her with a look of desperation, realizing that she wouldn’t be connecting the dots. “I’m moving, Berrie.”

She sat there, gawking like an idiot for a moment. Here she thought he would finally admit he loved her, only to say he was leaving? She felt detached from her body as if the scene was a nightmare she couldn’t wake up from.  

“Why?” she managed to croak out through disorientation. Her mind drowned out his half baked explanation. Why did he think she would be ok with him leaving her after fourteen years of friendship? Did she not mean the same to him as he did to her? Why wasn’t he as torn up about it as she was? The warmth and excitement she had felt moments before turned to bitter hatred.  She couldn’t look at his face without seeing the laughter he had choked back on their Friday movie nights, his hair without remembering the choppy haircut she had teased him about for ages until it finally grew out, and every other part of him she would never see again. Memories stored away rushed to the surface as she came to the bitter realization that there would never be more. She could no longer face him without feeling intense betrayal, wanting to meet it with a vengeance. Trembling, Alberta stood up, trying to swallow the anger rising in her throat. “You want to leave everything we had for some random school?” His expression grew frustrated. 

“It’s an opportunity I need to take, Berrie. I’m sorry.” She stood up, clenching her fists.

“No. I’m sorry for ever thinking you would care. I’ll take my brother trick-or-treating alone since you want to get away from me so badly.” He didn’t respond, his empty eyes planted on the ground numb to her outburst. His expression, so unlike his usual demeanor, terrified her to the core. 

Alberta had never forgotten him, his coppery eyes with flecks of gold, his tousled hair that he fought to keep together, the sarcastic wit he used to tease her time and time again, the frustrated and one-sided conversation he had tried to have with her before he left, and her true love she had forced herself to forget.