“Yuck,” I said, grimacing at the reflection of my silver braces. My friend Rachelle sighed. “You aren’t feeling sorry for yourself again, are you? Braces aren’t the end of the world.”
“But, Rachelle,” I exclaimed, “you heard what my dad said about Halloween. Since I got these stupid braces, he’s not letting me near candy. He says that I’ll just have to stay home tonight and help Mom pass it out to everyone else.”
Rachelle thought for a moment. “Why don’t you see if he’ll let you just dress up and come with us for the fun of it.”
“No thanks,” I replied. “It wouldn’t be the same. I guess it’ll be OK handing out goodies to the little kids. Some of them are really cute.”
“I’m going to the grocery store,” Mom called as she walked out the door. “Your dad is in the garage if you need anything.”
“OK,” I replied. Just then the phone in the kitchen rang. I hopped up and ran full tilt down the hallway. Just as I rounded the corner, I crashed into my little brother, Nathan, who was carrying Mom’s coupon box. Up in the air flew the box, and down on the floor we fell. It didn’t hurt us, but the once-organized coupons were scattered everywhere. “Oh no, Marta!” my brother exclaimed. “Mom’s going to be mad at you!”
“Well,” I retorted as the phone stopped ringing, “don’t just stand there looking at them. Help me get them back into the box.”
Quickly we gathered up the coupons. One for a free jewelry-cleaning at a local store caught my eye. “I have it!” I shouted. “I have it!” I stuffed the remaining coupons into the box and herded Nathan out the door. By this time Rachelle had joined me in the hallway. “Come on,” I said as I hurried into the kitchen for a pencil and paper. “I have the greatest idea for trick or treat.”
That evening everyone was dressed in their costumes. Nathan had chosen to be a pirate with a green face; Dad wore his usual scarecrow costume, and Mom was dressed as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. They were really surprised when I entered the room as Little Red Riding Hood.
“Where are you going?” Dad asked. I opened my trick-or-treat bag, and he looked inside. “So that’s what’s been keeping you so busy. It looks like you’re going to have an interesting Halloween.”
Rachelle and I picked up our friends Bobbie and Linda and started out. I was so excited that I could hardly walk.
“I didn’t think that your parents would let you go,” Linda remarked.
Rachelle laughed. “Well, they changed their minds after Marta spilled the coupons all over the floor.”
There was no time for further explanation right then because we were already at the first house. Mrs. Perry, an elderly widow, lived there. “Oh my, what do we have here?” she exclaimed. When we shouted, “Trick or treat!” Mrs. Perry smiled and handed us each a small candy bar. Instead of taking mine, though, I gave her a small, hand-printed card. “What’s this?” she questioned. “A coupon good for one free lawn mowing? Is this some sort of trick?” “No,” I laughed. “Instead of tricking tonight, I’m treating. I’ll see you and your lawn next summer.”
Brother and Sister Marker lived next door to Mrs. Perry. Again, when we rang the doorbell and the Markers tried to give me a treat, I pulled a card from my sack and gave it to Sister Marker. She looked at it and laughed. “You have to be kidding! An evening of free baby-sitting all six of our children?” My friends chimed in, “Well, we’ll help her. Just give us a call when you need us.” Sister Marker laughed and waved as we went on.
That evening we delivered coupons for free bread, baby-sitting, and car and window washing. I say “we,” because my friends were really getting into it too. They even started turning down candy that they were offered! It was a lot of fun, and before we knew it, we were at the last house. I had saved a very special coupon for this one. The people who lived there had moved in just before school started. “Trick or treat!” we shouted when Mrs. Bybee answered our knock.
“Well, let me see if I can find any candy for you scary creatures,” she laughed, starting back into the house.
“No—wait,” I said. “We’re treating tonight. Is Crystal home?”
Mrs. Bybee looked at us hard. I knew that she was wondering why we wanted to see her daughter. You see, Crystal was born blind and with several other birth defects. Although she’s a year older than we are, she still has a hard time, and kids sometimes make fun of her. Slowly Crystal emerged from the room where she had been sitting. “Who is it, Mom?” she asked shyly.
“It’s Marta,” I told her. “And my friends Rachelle, Linda, and Bobbie are with me. We’re treating instead of tricking tonight, and we have something for you.”
I reached into my sack for the very last card and handed it to her. She felt it and asked, “What does it say?”
Rachelle spoke up this time. “It says, Crystal, that if you don’t mind, we’d like to come to your house every week and read with you.”
“Wouldn’t you like that?” asked Bobbie anxiously when Crystal didn’t answer right away. “We want to be your friends.”
“Oh yes!” she said. “Oh, please come!” She turned to her mother and said, “They really are my friends, aren’t they?”
“Yes, we are,” we exclaimed together. “And we’ll see you every week.”
Crystal and her mother stood on the steps of their porch and waved good-bye until we were out of sight.