By Lina Mezerreg
If you’d told me I was going to fall in love in October, I’m not exactly sure how I would’ve reacted but I do know for a fact that I wouldn’t have believed you.
Now don’t get me wrong, October’s a great month, and not just because it ends with an overflow of candy and national sugar rush. I’m pretty sure it’s the month that gave birth to weather imagery and offered a debut stage to dancing leaves and is the embodiment of a warm and cozy fire and cafe aesthetics, as weird as all of that might sound.
But it’s just not my month. It’s nice and all, but it’s not for me. I’m a spring person, living for the rebirth of the world and melting of ice, not the death of summer and hibernation of fun.
And yet here I am, no, here we are, standing face to face in a corn maze, inches apart, our breath one and the same. And I know I’m in love.
I know, love’s a big word. A huge meaning embodied in four small letters, sometimes even abbreviated to three, or a less than sign and a three. But I know what I’m talking about. I know the difference between a three month crush (if it even lasts that long) and the feeling of my heart simultaneously swelling and breaking.
And that’s what I feel now.
If this were a perfect world (no, not Twice just reality) we would be there, looking stunning in the dim evening lighting, with perfect make up and maybe cute outfits or none at all and just well dressed and looking blissfully in love, entirely absorbed in our own little world to mind any attention to anyone else.
And maybe that could have been the case, if not for the monster mask between us and my not-even-artfully destroyed clothing.
It’s a classic case of your friend bribing you into volunteering at the local Halloween fair with the promise of your crush’s cameo appearance.
And then something goes wrong and you end up with leaves in your hair and mud on your hands and your already torn jeans partially burnt and fake bloodied t-shirt being soaked with actual blood and your tattered flannel being lost forever to the craziness that ensues on halloween night.
And for some reason, part of me still thinks I’ve got at least just a bit of game.
“Hey,” I try to say, my voice coming out much hoarser than intended, probably from all the yelling I’ve been doing in the past 24 hours, for various reasons.
“Do I know you,” Arrietty says, like any sane person, looking gorgeous in her confusion and her equally distressed state.
People say movies are just so unrealistic because actors are somehow able to go through hell and back and still look just as good, if not better than they did when they went in. But maybe they just somehow have the same perfect genes as Arrietty, with her clothes and hair still managing to look perfect despite going through the same chases that I did, if not more.
“Me, Neka,” I say, taking off the hideous mask, wincing a bit as it snags on my hair.
Arri’s eyes widen a bit, looking startled, before giving me a relieved smile that makes my heart clench just a little less.
“How did you get here,” she says, reaching out a hand to smooth out my hair, pulling out a twig and giving me a reassuring pat before withdrawing her hand.
“The usual,” I say like any cliche love-sick teenager trying to act cool in front of their crush. “Zombie harvest, child hunt, werewolf fight, corn maze, just another halloween night am I right.”
I can’t gauge her reaction to what I just said. I mean, the “biodiversity” in this town is no secret, even if her family only moved in at the end of July, just in time for her to walk into my first period physics class and finally make this small town just a little worthwhile.
Everyone knows about the monthly howls and weekly “bloodfests” and unicorn herds and pixie hollows and the like. It’s an open secret that no one really cares about anymore.
Except on Halloween because that’s when everyone goes just a little crazy and decides that unwritten rules are just that and can be bent a little in order to have a little fun.
And you’d think that everyone else would take just a few precautions so the fun doesn’t turn into a bloodbath but it’s like the whole town loses all sanity and decides to just… I’m not really sure how to describe it to an Outsider but let’s just say that the result is identical to a hoco afterparty with a slightly deranged version of truth or dare.
Arri, surprisingly, sits down, cross legged, patting the ground next to her.
Weird, but maybe not the strangest thing that’s happened this night. So I sit down next to her, wincing as I bend my scratched knee, but trying to make myself comfortable on the dusty ground all the same.
She leans her head on my shoulder slightly, her right knee brushing against my extended leg. I really shouldn’t be this attentive, and especially not on a night of a new moon, but I can’t stop from shifting just a little closer to her warmth, like a moth to a flame against the brisk cold of this final October night.
“I’m not human,” she says as casually as if commenting on what a disaster my hair is.
Which it always is, but that’s kinda irrelevant to the moment.
It’s an odd thing to say. I know I said the non-human activity in town was no secret but that doesn’t mean everyone knows who everyone else is. What literature gets wrong about us is that our scents are only really distinguishable to our own, and fae are much rarer than you’d think and also werewolves aren’t a male thing, I think there are actually more females and good god don’t even get me started on vampires.
But either way, we don’t make it our business to know if our neighbors are actual harpies or just sound like them. I mean, take me for example. Three people know I’m a werewolf, and that’s including my mom.
“Neither am I,” I say, saying the first thing that comes to mind and not entirely sure it was the right thing.
“I know,” she says with a small laugh, hair brushing against my arm like fire sparks.
I don’t know what to say, opting to smile dumbly like a fool despite half my brain telling me that maybe, just maybe, you know, the smallest maybe ever, that maybe I should get out of there. But like the idiot I am, I stay.
“How,” I decide to stay, shifting a bit because of my tense shoulder but subtle enough that Arri doesn’t bother to move her head.
“Fae perks,” she says with a small shrug, and all of a sudden, it all makes sense. All the little things I noticed and brushed off, all the tiny ticks she had, small comments she made, the occasional disappearing acts.
Fae are maybe the most helpful type of nonhuman you could be. They aren’t as truthful or as deceptive (usually) as everyone says they are, but they do have what the rest of us call “senses”. They’re one of three species that can identify other non-humans, and have a general understanding for animal speech and just the slightest touch of magic that can help with little things, a few time tricks that I would kill to learn, and no huge side effects that I can think off the top of my head besides the occasional rhyme spell.
“Makes sense,” I say with a small laugh, right hand brushing against the hay behind me, absently picking at strands.
We sit in silence like that for a while, in relative silence, with a fire column erupting near the ferris wheel and a few screams in the direction of the woods. All in all, nothing too urgent or abnormal.
“So this is what a Tsiya Halloween looks like,” she says quietly, taking it all in and I can just feel the smile in her voice, the quiet wonder and slightest hint of geekiness. It’s adorable, endearing, delightful and I am so so in love with her I can’t help it. “Zombie resurrections and werewolf howls and the occasional wrestling match and vampire races and unicorn petting zoos and gnome-and-seek and just..”
Her voice fades, and I don’t stop myself when I reach out to take her hand, incredibly soft in mine, feeling like it was always meant to be there, and I don’t care if October isn’t my month anymore because now it’s ours and I don’t know what else to say, I just want this moment to last forever, the comfortable warmth of having someone at your side, someone that you just know what they mean, no need for words, and if this isn’t love then I don’t think i want what love really is because this is more than enough for me.
“Happy Halloween, I guess,” I say, shifting our hands so it’s more like a handshake. “Welcome to Tsiya, the town of sea otters and outcasts.”
She laughs and pushes my arm just a bit before standing up and pulling me up too, surprising strength in her lithe figure. Actually not surprising, she’s fae.
She faces me and takes both my hands, somehow managing to envelop them with her smaller ones, and smiles.
And I don’t know how long we stand like that, not really sure when Tremaine comes yelling that the candy was lost somewhere on main street or when the Bell rang in the Common but I do know this.
That I fell in love in October, and I’ve been stuck in it since.
Not that I’m complaining.