My first trick-or-treating memory is a doozy. I was four, almost five, and I was decked out as some sort of fairy. Nothing too unlike my everyday attire, actually. We lived in a cute neighborhood on Maui at the time and the neighbors got really into the season, embellishing their yards with pumpkins, graveyard signs, floating ghosts and the occasional crawly creature.
And then there was that neighbor. The one-upper. The one who always took things just a little too far. Overnight, she had transformed her cute little American Foursquare home into an ominous Rocky Horror Picture-esque haunted castle. There were limbs sticking up out of the ground, fog rolling over the grass and howling sounds coming from the bushes. There were warning signs: “Stop! Do Not Enter! Beware!” and yet my mom was obliviously propelling me up the steps and toward the front door. I had a mean sweet tooth, but even I didn’t want candy this bad. Ignoring all reason and logic, totally unaffected by my whimpering, my mom lifted her hand and knocked rapidly on the door.
A few tense seconds later the door opened with a creak, revealing the most hideous witch on the face of the planet. In all my four years of experience, I’d seen a lot of witches: that one in Wizard of Oz, the creepy green one in Snow White, the one in my Hansel and Gretel book. And I knew exactly what that witch had wanted with Hansel and Gretel. I stood in petrified fear and squeaked, “Don’t eat me!”
The witch raised a bony finger, pointing off into the distance. She inched towards my face and rhasped a simple warning. “Don’t. Cross. The bridge.”
My eyes darted in the direction she was pointing. There was no bridge in sight. “Wh-what bridge?” I pleaded.
“DON’T!” she howled, coming nose to nose with me. “Don’t cross the bridge.” She hobbled backwards a step and lurched her head up in the air, baling up at the sky. “Don’t cross the briiiiiiiiidge!” And with that, she let out a menacing cackle, turning abruptly and slamming the door in my Mom and I’s startled faces.
I was terrified of bridges for the remainder of my childhood. And to add insult to injury, I didn’t even get any candy.