I have an old photo of my little sister and me at home, playing witches. I’m about six years old in the picture. My sister is wearing a diaper and peering unsteadily into a big black cauldron. I’m hovering over her in a black pointy hat and tattered dress. It must have been Halloween because the costume and cauldron are new and store-bought. I’m about to go trick-or-treating, or maybe having one last game of dress-up before packing it all away for the year.
Looking at the picture now, I don’t remember much about that Halloween. I can’t really summon the crispness in the air, the rustling piles of Reese’s Pieces and Twizzlers, the taste of the popcorn balls, made by a neighbor, that my nervous parents reluctantly let me eat. No, my most vivid sensory memory is of that big plastic cauldron. How stupid and hollow it sounded when I stirred it with my broom, how its overwhelming vinyl smell contaminated my entire haul of candy.
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