Vegan children’s story, Luke Walker and the Halloween Party, continues from yesterday:
Friday’s party was eagerly anticipated by everyone. It was going to be historical. They were going to play traditional games and eat traditional food – which they would have to make from scratch over the next couple of days. Mr Beardsley had given them recipes to take home. And they needed costumes. There was a lot to do and very little time in which to do it. Luke and Joe talked about it while they put on their coats and boots at the end of the day.
“I’m going to be a pirate,” said Joe.
“You can’t be a pirate, it’s not historical.”
“No, it’s made up. Like in Peter Pan.”
“Pirates are real,” Isabel couldn’t help pointing out when she overheard their conversation.
“Not Long John Silver, or Captain Hook, or someone with a parrot on ‘is shoulder,” Luke clarified.
“What are you comin’ as then?” asked Joe.
“William Wilberforce’s ghost,” said Luke proudly.
“Ooh, good one,” said Tania as she returned to Isabel the scarf she’d borrowed.
“I’m coming as Queen Elizabeth I,” she added, shaking her auburn curls.
“Who can I be?” Isabel wondered aloud. The girls walked away in deep discussion. Luke and Joe were not far behind. Joe was disappointed that he couldn’t go as a pirate.
“What can I go as then?” he asked his friend.
“Go as a lunatic from one of those old asylums,” suggested Simon Butler who’d appeared from nowhere, “then you wouldn’t need a costume!” And he laughed so loud on his way out that Mrs Tebbut shouted ‘PIPE DOWN OUT THERE!’ from the classroom next door.
“Idiot Butler! Not even s’posed to be in this cloakroom,” he hissed under his breath. “Don’t worry,” he told Joe, “you’ll be somethin’ better’n ‘im!”
“Not Mr Darcy! Mr Wilberforce!” Luke insisted. “I don’t want to look like some posh bloke from Priden Precipice!”
Mrs Walker pulled the black trousers, white ruffled shirt and long black coat from The Village Players’ costume trunk.
“William Wilberforce would have dressed like Mr Darcy Luke, these will be just the thing,” she assured him, “I’ll just give them an iron.”
“Okay,” Luke tentatively agreed, “but what about Joe? Is there anythin’ in there that Joe can wear?”
Luke’s mum set up the board and plugged in the iron.
“Who’s he going as?” she asked.
“Depends what costumes you’ve got,” said Luke, keeping an open mind.
Mum had only recently joined the local amateur dramatics group so she wasn’t sure what costumes they’d got. Most of them were a bit worse for wear but they were lucky to be allowed to use them.
“See for yourself,” she suggested, “have a rummage and see if anything captures your imagination.”
Luke rummaged. Pink tights, brown tights, knickerbockers, caterpillar costume, spider costume, Cheshire Cat costume, blue dress with white pinafore. So far not so good. Red ball gown, green ball gown, yellow ball gown, purple tutu, red clown shoes. Really not good.
“Rubbish!” said Luke ungratefully, “it’s all rubbish!”
Mum sighed and switched off the iron.
“Luke – don’t just throw them around like that! You’re lucky we’ve been allowed to borrow these,” she said, exasperated.
Luke was sorry. He just wanted to find something good for Joe to shut Butler up. He helped Mum pick up the costumes and re-fold them.
“Sorry,” he said.
She pressed her lips tight together and looked him in the eye.
“That’s alright,” she said. Then, just as she was about to put the folded pile back in the trunk, she noticed a couple of things Luke had missed.
“What about these?” she said.
“A nightgown and a Father Christmas beard?” said Luke, unimpressed.
“Not a nightgown, a robe,” she explained, “men used to wear these in the olden days, especially in hot countries.”
Luke’s blank expression indicated he needed another clue.
“Who’s that maths guy you like?”
“Yes!” Mum smiled, “I bet he would have worn something like this. And he probably had a long white beard when he got old.”
“Yeah!” Now Luke was excited, “We’ll both be veggietareun people from history! Joe can be Pythagoras and I’ll be William Wilberforce’s ghost!”
“Why not just William Wilberforce? Why do you have to be his ghost?”
“Coz it’s a Halloween party. Ya know: Ha-llow-een. It’s all about ghosts and scary stuff.” He thought his mum would have known that.
“Yes, but you’re all going as people from history.”
“So they’re all dead.”
“Yeah.” There really was nothing confusing here.
“So why doesn’t Joe go as Pythagoras’s ghost?”
“It’s supposed to be someone who’s dead. So he’s Pythagoras. The man.”
“Yes, I see, so why aren’t you the man?”
“I’m going to be William Wilberforce’s ghost.”
“But if you’re a ghost why isn’t Joe going to be a ghost. Or if he’s the man, why aren’t you the man…?” She caught sight of her own reflection in the mirror and paused, wondering why she kept asking questions to which there could be no satisfactory answer.
“Can you iron this one as well please?” her son asked, handing back the white robe, “I’m goin’ to phone Joe and tell ‘im.”
On Friday 31st of October at 7.08 pm, Luke and Joe said goodbye to Luke’s dad at the school gate and walked towards the classroom carrying their contributions to the party food. Luke had followed the Halloween recipes given to him by Mr Beardsley for barm brack (a kind of fruit bread) and colcannon (mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage). Mum had helped a bit. Joe brought the treacle-covered scones he’d made with Janet’s assistance, using another of their teacher’s traditional recipes. He’d also remembered the string.
Mr Beardsley’s classroom was almost unrecognisable.
Hanging from the ceiling were two large imitation crystal chandeliers, covered in cobwebs and emitting a very dim, creamy light. Long dark-purple velvet curtains replaced the Venetian blinds that usually hung in the windows, the bottoms of which sat in folds on the floor around large pumpkins carved with grotesque gargoyle faces.
The boys approached a long table at one end of the room. It was draped in a ragged, dark red table cloth whose dusty hem skimmed the dusty parquet. On it fifteen white candles stood tall on three candelabra, complete with realistic-looking orange and yellow tissue paper flames and untidily littered with long drips of dry wax. Various plates and bowls of food, brought by the children, were set upon the table. Luke and Joe added theirs.
“No, not on there boys,” Mr Beardsley startled them, suddenly appearing as he did. “Those are for the games, remember?”
Luke and Joe looked at their teacher and then at each other and laughed. Mr Beardsley had really pulled out all the stops for this party. His already lofty frame appeared even taller than usual, and his apparently-severed head rested in front of his chest, supported by his left arm. Atop the severed head sat an enviable black hat, with wide upturned brim and a sinister-looking white skull and cross-bones on the front.
“Who are you supposed to be?” asked Luke.
“Can’t you guess?” teased his teacher, rubbing his brand new coal-black beard.
“No,” said Luke. Joe also shook his head.
Mr Beardsley tutted.
“Boys, boys boys,” he said, shaking his head, “don’t you ever listen to my lessons?” he asked rhetorically. “I’m Blackbeard. Remember? The famous pirate who was beheaded in 1718?”
“Pirate?” said Joe, looking daggers at Luke.
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of this vegan children’s story,
or read the whole story here now