His parents were looking at him with hopeful expectations. Unable to let the silence continue any longer, Leo took the dress from his dad with a forced smile. “Thanks.”
His dad clapped him on the back. “Go out there and have fun,” he said.
“I just talked to the woman across the street, with the beautiful Elm tree,” Leo’s mom added. Her daughter and her friends are handing out candy to the kids at the end of the cul-de-sac!”
The enthusiasm practically vibrating through Leo’s mom was an order. If Leo didn’t go ham it up with those girls, he would crush his mom.
Leo gave them both a curt nod before slinking back up the stairs. In his sweaty palm, the cheap material of the gown itched.
It was like a horrible homework assignment worth a quarter of your grade. Leo changed clothes and put on the dress with a mechanical slowness, face devoid of expression.
His parents tearfully bid him goodbye like it was prom night. No, that eventual nightmare wasn’t for another few months, thank god.
Once outside, the cold bit into Leo through the princess outfit. The tiara scratched at his scalp. More kids were out now, and Leo bristled whenever they looked his way.
Steeling himself, Leo squared his shoulders, stood up straight, and marched toward the gathering at the end of the coul-de-sac.
There was a folding table set out on the asphalt. It was covered in a table cloth with an orange and black spooky theme. On top of it, a few big baking bowls full of the best candy sat.
And, behind the table, in folding chairs, sat five teenage girls.
As Leo approached, his heart sank further. Their costumes were immaculate, and, worst of all, they matched.
Each of the five girls was a different Spice Girl. From left to right, there sat Ginger Spice, Posh Spice, Scary Spice, Sporty Spice, and Baby Spice. They were all white, except for Baby Spice, who was Asian.
Leo thought back to his parents’ hopeful expressions. Leo was a mixed kid to two hard working parents who’d faced income problems and even people having a problem with their interracial relationship. In the year 2004.
This neighborhood did not feel like home, and Leo didn’t think it ever would.
Still, Leo approached the table. As he walked up, all five of the girls looked up, their energetic conversation dwindling away.
Leo stopped a few feet away. Everything was silent, save for the breeze rustling the autumn trees and the occasional cry of “trick or treat!”
“Uh.” Leo swallowed. “Hi.”