Colors for Poppa – by Emily Zampetti (Adult)

The jack-o-lantern tucked under one arm and her boy’s small hand grasped by her side, Tara made her way down the half-block to the community garden. Jude pointed to one of her father’s favorite painting spots among the now-barren wisterias, and she nodded in agreement. There she set the pumpkin down, and the pair stepped back to admire their work, their soft breaths puffing white into the bare branches.
“I guess we should light it up.” Jude suggested.
“I think I’ve got you one better,” Tara said.
She reached into her deep coat pocket, pulling out a peanut butter jar lid and a small, dark ball. She handed the lid to Jude.
“Can you fill this up at the fountain for me?”
Jude smiled, sensing some sort of secret, and hurried to the foot-pedal drinking fountain. He quickly returned with the lid filled, water slopping over the edges. Tara removed the top of the jack-o-lantern, and carefully set the lid inside. Jude observed as she then peeled the plastic wrapper off the ball. Once finished, she held it out for him to inspect. It felt as she had anticipated, sort of chalky and powdery, and when she handed it off, it left bluish-purple smudges on her fingertips. Jude turned the ball over in his hand, curious.
“Go ahead and put it in the dish.” She said
“But what about the candle?” Jude insisted.
Tara chuckled. “You’ll see!”
Jude lowered the ball through the opening, careful not to let any of the chalky powder touch the sides. He withdrew his hand, replaced the pumpkin’s cap, and waited. A silent, wispy tendril of purple smoke drifted slowly out from between Jack’s smiling teeth. Jude gasped, then squealed in delight. Soon, a steady stream of indigo plumes came billowing through the carved holes, creating something both beautiful and eerie in the deepening twilight.
“Do you think he likes it, Mommy?” Jude asked, still smiling.
Tara bent to kiss his cheek. “I think he loves it.”
They watched together as the colors swirled through the branches of Poppa’s wisterias.
Happy Halloween, Dad.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Photo Flora 2019-02 – Scary

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