Today I am re-running a story that received positive comments a year ago. Halloween, and James is trying hard to catch the eye of a curly-haired redhead from his high school class.
James the Invisible
James the Invisible sat in Science lab, partnered with Dawn, the curly haired redhead. Dawn, the only person he would shed his invisibility for. Dawn, who looked right through him. Dawn, who was currently crushing on Ian, at the lab station next to them.
James dubbed himself The Invisible. No one knew him. No one saw him. And he was fine with that. Until now.
Ian passed Dawn a note. James peered over Dawn’s shoulder at the note. Meet me in the pumpkin patch after school. I’ll buy you the biggest one they have. Pumpkins. She likes pumpkins.
That night James the Invisible waited quietly for his parents to fall asleep. His little brother snored blissfully. James pulled on a pair of jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt, and sneakers. Marker pens in several sizes and colors. A pocket knife with a four-finger blade. Ready. James slipped downstairs and out the kitchen door.
A chill breeze ruffled his hair, the bit that hung out from under his hoodie. A harvest moon hung up there somewhere, hiding behind clouds. James walked briskly to Randall’s Farm, the town pumpkin patch.
She had been here, he thought. Only a few hours ago. With that clown Ian. Ian wasn’t strong enough to lift a large pumpkin, much less carry it home to Dawn’s house. James thought himself smarter than Ian. He would not pick the largest pumpkin. Nope, he would go for beauty. For symmetry. The pumpkin with the best shape. Like Dawn. Graceful. Cool. A radiant kind of beauty.
James slipped into the pumpkin field at the far end of the property. Away from the barn and the dogs. Away from the lights. He treaded his way down rows and rows of pumpkins. All so-so. None stood out. A bad crop, he thought. Fit only for carving up. But no carving tool would touch James’s pumpkin. No, its beauty would stand out of its own accord.
A dog barked off in the distance. James froze. Waited. The moon remained behind clouds. Not much chance of it showing itself tonight.
James spied the pumpkin. Dawn’s pumpkin. Round, no blemishes or scratches on the surface. He pulled out his pocket knife and sliced off the vine, preserving a three-inch stem. A gentle curve to the stem. Like Dawn, he thought. All gentle curves. No blemishes, like some of the other girls at school. Perfect.
James pulled a rag from his pocket, wiped the field dust off the pumpkin. It was a beauty. Perfectly round. Smooth.
James pulled markers from his pocket. Began writing Dawn’s name on the pumpkin. On her pumpkin. DAWN, in a graceful script. Red letters with several green leaves for a flourish. The letters wrapped around half the pumpkin. James smiled.
He waited a few minutes for the marker ink to dry. He could not dare smudge this beauty. He checked his phone. After midnight. Time to move. He lifted the pumpkin carefully. Admired his work. Walked away from the field.
One last thing. Leave the pumpkin in front of Dawn’s door. He knew where she lived. He had spotted her address on a form she had at her desk last week. Easy. Drop it and run. Mission accomplished.
James slipped along the sidewalks in the dark. Not a sound anywhere. No one walking their dogs. No cats prowling about. James found Dawn’s house easily. Number 1215 on Broad Street. He looked right and left, satisfied no one was around.
As he stepped up to the porch, lights flashed on. Damn. Motion detectors. James put the pumpkin down in front of the door, turned to run, and smacked face-on into a rock pile of a man. The man pushed James back. James landed on his rear on the porch step.
“What are you doing, you little shit?” the voice boomed. “Ready to TP my house again?”
James could not find his voice. He squeaked. Pathetic. But no longer invisible. Nope, quite visible to this huge man.
The man stepped around James and peered at the pumpkin. He picked it up, gazed at the writing on its surface. Looked over at James. The man looked back and forth between the pumpkin and James’s face. Back and forth. And a grin cracked the man’s face. Just a slit at first. Then wider. And wider. Now, almost a laugh.
“You crushing on my Dawn?” the man asked James.
James felt redness flaring up his neck, his face. He could not lift his eyes to meet the man’s stare.
The man put the pumpkin down in front of the door. “What’s your name, kid?”
A whisper. “James.”
“Okay, James. Here’s the deal. I will leave the pumpkin there for Dawn to find in the morning. I will not tell her who left it. How she finds out, if ever, that’s for you to figure out. Deal?”
“Now go home before I kick your ass down the street.”
James jumped up and ran off. Mission accomplished.
And still invisible.