Tonight Belinda’s Bedtime Story THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME



It was sort of horrible what happened to Annette that Halloween. She picked up her Dior skeleton costume all right. It seemed to fit. Out into the pumpkin-filled street she went, with all its goggly-lit dragon eyes, up close each one a grinning monster. Bodies hung from balconies – roped about the neck – speechless as they jerked back and forth in the wind. The sound of a goose or a hen – some kind of fowl – cackling in the sky made her look up but it was just a witch flying across the moon – or maybe it was only a black cloud. Something flitted in the air, brushing children’s faces – they screamed and covered their hair with their hands. Bats usually prefer the dark but tonight they headed for the bright windows. On Halloween, of course, everything goes topsy-turvy.

Annette went from door to door collecting treats. Edward Scissorhands gave colourfully wrapped candies, opening her bag with his long sharp fingers. Some of the children backed away from him down the stairs. A man with two heads looked at Annette twice and dropped in twice as much. A mummy came to the door but his bandage had slipped away at the top and … nothing was there. Maybe his neighbour had borrowed his head. He gave her something round, all neatly covered with blue metallic paper. “Ha ha!” A chocolate egg, she hoped. At the next house, the ghost was just someone inside a white sheet except that, when Annette dared to look, she didn’t see any feet. Whatever it was, it floated away after dropping some liquorice out of its sleeve.

She was doing pretty well until, that is, she came to one house where the owner crossed his eyes above his walrus moustache and stuttered as though already frightened by what trick she might perform.

“Th’ th’ that’ll be a trick please!”

Didn’t his mother ever tell him not to do that, Annette wondered as she looked at his twisted eyes. She decided to play along and so, like any self-respecting skeleton, she gave her bones a rattle. However, this didn’t satisfy the gentleman. He rattled his false teeth back at her.

“N’ n’ no. I wa’ wa’ want a r’ r’ real trick.”

“Okay,” said Annette, “you asked for it, you’re going to get it.” She promptly fell to pieces on his porch. Bone by bone, she came apart and formed a heap, her skull precariously perched on top.

“How about that!”

“P’ p’ pretty good. Ha, ha, ha,” replied the gentleman and closed his door.

“O oh,” said Annette to herself, “now what’ll I do? Let me see. The knee bone’s connected to the chin bone, the chin bone’s connected to the shoulder bone, the shoulder bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the head bone, – oh bother! Maybe I can just crawl out of here. I’ll just fix this piece and that piece. There! All done!”

Annette looked sort of like a crab – perhaps a galaxy of stars spinning out of control – her head somewhere in the middle of a circle of leg bones and arm bones and back bones.

“I think I’ve got it now,” she said, and made her way to the next house.

“Trick or treat!”

“Aghhhhh!” the lady screamed and ran back into the house.

“This is pretty good,” thought Annette. “This is what’s supposed to happen. Scary stuff.” But then, she realized she didn’t get a treat. She tried the next house. Same thing. This was no good. Here she was giving out tricks and no one would give her a treat. Her bag was only half-full.

She began to blubber. Just a little bit.

“What’s the matter, Annette?” said her big sister Juliette, from across the street.

“No one’s putting anything in my bag.”

“You’re not the little skeleton sister I remember,” said Juliette, who had come closer.

“It’s me! It’s me!”

“No, no,” said her sister. “Annette’s a well-connected little skeleton; whereas, you are a misconnected bunch of bones. If you don’t watch it, a dog will come along and bury you. Now, where is my sister?”

She looked up and down the dark street for Annette.

“No! no! I’m here! I’m here! And my bag’s only half-full!”

“I know you’re here! Whoever or whatever you are! Prove to me that you’re Annette!” said her sister.

“My hair is black.”

“So is a lot of little girls’.”

“I’m sweet.”


“My drawing is on the refrigerator.”

More silence.

“I like to play in the park.”

Deep silence.

At last, desperately, Annette said, “Sing me that song!”

“What song?”

“You know, the bone song. Sing me the bone song and I’ll prove to you who I am.”

“It seems to be either that or the wheelbarrow to cart you away,” said her sister and began to sing.

“The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,
The hip bone’s connected to the back bone,
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone …
And that’s the way we are!”

“And that’s the way I am,” said Annette, who had followed along with the song putting herself properly back together, until finally she was upright on her two feet.

“Wait a minute,” said her sister. Juliette twisted Annette’s head bone so that it faced the right way.

“That’s better. Now, I think it’s time to go home.”

“But my bag’s still half-empty!” cried Annette.

“No, it’s not, it’s half-full,” said her sister.

“Half-full! half-empty!” Annette complained as they walked back home.

When they reached their house, she heard that old goose in the sky again. It was laughing at her. Annette turned to look just in time to see a black-robed and pointy-hatted figure crash right into the moon.

“She didn’t watch where she was going,” said her sister, but Annette was busy collecting everything that fell out of the witch’s sack. Soon her bag was full.

Inside the house, as she went through all her treats – froggypops, lollydogs, jellyworms, sluggydrops, wartychocs, loopysnakes and yummy gummy chewytoads! – trying to decide which she would have first, it was all too much for her bones and they began to rattle excitedly.

“Now don’t you come all undone!” she said. “I’m too busy to sing the bone song all over again.”

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