Leo dropped the cardboard box onto the carpet of his bedroom with a heavy thwump. His arms and back protested from the labor, his calves begging not to have to march up and down the stairs another time.
There was a bed with a mattress in the center of the room, but it didn’t have any sheets on it to hide the weird stains that old mattresses had. Still, Leo flopped onto it, letting out a long sigh and looking up at the ceiling.
He didn’t want to be here.
“Leo!” His dad called out, voice muffled through the door. “Get down here!”
Okay, that wasn’t what Leo had in mind.
With a labored grunt, Leo sat upright, forcing his angsting, teenage body out of the room and down the stairs.
His mom and dad were standing in the entryway to the house with twin smiles on their faces. Stepfordian smiles.
Leo slowed as he reached the front hall, glancing warily between his parents. “Uh, what’s up?”
“Look!” His mom exclaimed. She gestured outside.
Leo leaned forward, looking out the screen door at the disturbingly normal American suburban scene. He looked back at his mom with a question on his face.
“Trick-or-treaters!” His mom said.
Leo looked again. Sure enough, even though the sun hadn’t set, some kids were already out, mostly the young ones toddling around in Pikachu costumes, holding hands with their parents.
“Cool,” Leo said.
“[DEADNAME]*, we know moving can be tough,” Leo’s dad said. Yeah, understatement. “So we want you to go out and have some fun.”
Leo’s dad pulled out a costume from behind his back. Leo had to bite his lip to stop from making a noise of disgust.
It was a princess costume, with royal purple velvet and a sheer, sparkly, pink decorative material spread all over it. It was girly and infantile and not Leo’s style.
*We wanted to respect Leo’s privacy and not use his birth name, which he dislikes.