“It’s a pumpkin. It can’t feel a thing.”
“I still think it hurts.” She glowered at him while he finished cutting out the lid. He reminded me of my grandfather, measuring out from the stem as he carved.
On the other side of the patio, I was still jabbing around the pattern on Sam’s pumpkin, and Sam himself was standing on a swing shouting, “I hit an iceberg. The Titanic is sinking and we haven’t got enough lifeboats!”
I said, “Chewie, go save Sam.” But the dog rammed his nose into my armpit, far more interested in the possibility of pumpkin treats than in saving his kid.
Scott scraped out the first pumpkin’s guts without comment. Then, he handed Caroline a small knife. “Here, you do it. Just saw back and forth.”
Slowly, Caroline took the handle and began whittling around the eye she had poked into the flesh a few minutes prior.
I started in on the other pumpkin’s guts, my arms blossoming mottled red, just like Poppa’s used to when he carved with us in his living room. Scott said, “I didn’t know you were allergic to pumpkin.”
“Well, raw pumpkin anyway. Poppa couldn’t have it raw or cooked. I’m still OK with pumkin pie.” I schlocked the last of the seeds and stringy innards onto the pile of newspaper.
Caroline announced, “I’m done.”
“Caroline, you’ve only done three ticks.” She’d only sawed through three of the poker holes, he meant.
“But this pumpkin’s heavy.”
“Look, here’s how you do it.” Scott moved the pumpkin out of her lap and put his hand over hers, guiding the motion.
“Oh. That’s not so bad.”
Sam materialized beside the dog. “The Titanic is down,” he reported. “She has sunk beneath the icy waters forever.” He paused. “Can I help?”
I gave him both fleshy orange lids and the plastic poker. “Make me a dot-to-dot square right there.” I pointed to a place I had already outlined in pencil. While he worked, I hacked his ghost into being with a smaller, sharper pumpkin saw.
A few minutes later, Scott took over for Caroline to get a tight part, but then he handed the job back to her once he had rounded the corner. I finished carving the ghost without once breaking through the back wall, so I scraped away on the inside, thinning until the ghost began to wobble.
Caroline said, “I’m stuck again.” She was still on the first eye.
“Here, watch this.” Scott brought out a motorized saw and pushed the button for a dramatic braap of sound. He jabbed the pumpkin. The saw stopped. “Oh. Nevermind.”
“I guess the blade’s dull.” I snagged the poker, stuck it into a ghostly eye socket, and twisted.
“Did you ever replace it replace it at the end o f last year?” He studied the implement.
“Nevermind. Don’t answer that. Caroline, we’ll just continue the old fashioned way.”
Sam finished outlining the chimneys. I told him, “Go throw the ball for Chewie.”
But he said, “The Titanic just came back up,” and headed back to the swing set, leaving me with the nosy dog. I popped the ghost’s outline free. “Do you want me to finish yours?” I reached for the other pumpkin.
Caroline said, “That’s OK, Mom. I’m doing fine all by myself.” And indeed she was, still patiently sawing on that first eye while Scott shook the electric saw as if that might somehow sharpen the blade.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.