Mom’s Pumpkin Boyfriend by Francine Witte

Carved out jacko on the dresser. Mom first learned to do this last Halloween. Scooped the goo out of a pumpkin head when Dad was out on a drunk. Mom’s own head a beehive of regret and wondering how on earth their marriage went so wrong. 

Mom and Dad who must have been young, their faces turned upwards. And then years go by. Jobs, and then no jobs, Mom twinkling the neighbor’s eye, Dad taking his first sip of gin.

So, tonight, it’s one Halloween later, and Mom’s pumpkin boyfriend is pretty much all she’s got. Not the one from last year, of course. That one dried up months ago. But here’s the thing about pumpkins – there is always another one, and also, they tend to stay put.

Dad is out, and I peek in to tell her I’m off to trick or treat even though I’m already too old. I see my mother sitting there, dressed in a negligee she has saved from forever. Air spiced up with Dad’s cologne. On the dresser, her new pumpkin boyfriend, lit-up candle shining out of his eye holes, a shot glass of gin up against his pulpy gashmouth, and Mom just watching, almost like she’s waiting, to see if he’s going to take a sip.

FRANCINE WITTE — Francine’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Passages North, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press), The Way of the Wind (Ad Hoc Fiction) and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books). Her chapbook, The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) will be published by ELJ September, 2021. She lives in NYC.

Art by KRISTINA SACCONE — Kristina is a writer and painter. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dwelling Literary, Emerge Literary Journal, Flash Frog, The Minison Project, Nightingale and Sparrow, and Unearthed. You can find her on Twitter at @kristinasaccone.