Memories of Aiyana 9: Helloween
No, that’s not a typo or misspelling.
We both loved dressing up and pretending. My folks had all the clothes from their children; mostly because Dad was a bit of a hoarder. I know, you wouldn’t expect that from a diplomat, right?
Actually, being a diplomat is perfect for being a hoarder. You go to all these places and can ship stuff back on the government’s dime, plus maybe get them at a way better price? Then you have your home, so you have a place to put all the artwork and treasures you collect. And if you’re a really successful diplomat, who can afford a big house, well, you have room for lots of stuff!
Dad was a really successful diplomat. So much so he was being called on for consultation even though he’d officially retired three years before I was born.
I seem to have misplaced my train of thought.
All the clothes my semi-siblings had, at least everything which was in good shape, was stashed away somewhere in the home. Dad, like I said, was a bit of a hoarder. Mom was organized and knew where to find things. When I came along, I had pretty much all the clothes I would ever need, if a few decades out of date.
You know, now I’m thinking of it, I wonder if my lifelong fascination with the early part of the 21st Century came from Dad’s trinkets?
Aiyana dipped into my clothes stash pretty liberally, too. Like I said last time, we each had clothes over at the other’s house, but then we’d be doing something and Aiyana would see something she liked and borrow it and it would go home with her.
So we played dress-up, and most of the time it was just for us, for fun, but October was big. October was Halloween, and October meant we could walk around in our costumes and pretend to be people. Us being who we were, and our parents having decided to roll with it rather than try to fight it, we started dressing up about the middle of September and went right through until sometime in November. Not only that but we’d also wear our outfits everywhere.
We had fun.
We did all the boring typical schoolkid stuff: police and fire, doctors, teachers, farmers, that sort. But we also did more out-there outfits. I raided Dad’s clothes, and played at being a politician and a soldier and, of course, a diplomat. We pulled out old clothes and suddenly we were rebels from the Second Civil War. Then we got creative. I asked Mom if I could use, alter, some of the clothes, so over the course of a week she went through every scrap and made a pile of clothes we could cut to pieces.
One Thursday Cass and I went to school as bellydancers. We hadn’t the slightest clue what the story was or why it was a thing, but we loved the veils and the filmy skirts we made out of something we found. And the cymbals on the fingers…! By the end of the day we had three other girls, and two boys, following us around and trying to do the same wiggles we did!
But Halloween was coming, and we really wanted to do something special.
Now, by ’86 I was well into my fandoms, and I was watching all the television and movies I could get my hands on. Cass watched them too, but not as often and not nearly with my obsession over the details. One show we enjoyed was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, what little girl didn’t want to kick ass?
So we decided we were going to be Willow and Buffy.
The clothes weren’t tough.
Props were easy too. Stakes? Simple. Crosses? Well, we didn’t have any, but we could get some. Dad even had an old crossbow he let me borrow, but didn’t give me any quarrels. Probably a smart move.
Becoming the characters? Tougher, but we had seen all of the first three seasons by then and could manage them.
Practicing the martial arts? Yeah, that was the challenge.
We watched and watched and watched until we felt we had a certain scene down, then we’d practice the moves as best we could figure out. Then another, and another. Usually Cass would be Giles or the vampire or whoever Buffy was trying to slay while I did my moves, and then we’d trade places. Of course, usually Willow wasn’t kicking ass as much as being rescued, but she still had her moments, and we took advantage of that.
Finally it’s the week before Halloween, and we decided we were going to be Buffy and Willow all day, every day, until Halloween night. We insisted our parents call us by the ‘right’ names, dressed like Buffy and Willow…You know what? In retrospect Cass got the better end of the deal. I don’t know if you know Buffy at all, but the main character was usually in a blouse and short skirt, while Willow was dressed more warmly. This is not a minor consideration in Minnesota in October!
We get on the bus to go to school and tell everyone else to call me Buffy and her Willow. By the time we’re at school, everyone’s got it. We were the Big Kids on the Bus, after all, and by the end of the day everyone in school’s picked up on it.
The teachers were a little bit pickier, but eventually relented.
Then we had to explain to everyone who we were, and that lead to me showing them an episode. I was pleased as you could possibly imagine; after all, nobody knew about Buffy until I brought her into school!
That was a Tuesday.
Thursday the first vampire showed up.
I guess it was inevitable, right? After all, I was the Slayer. The kid did a pretty good job with the makeup, too.
Friday there was a whole pack of them. We had lots of fun, pretending to fight and hide and run around.
We didn’t do much over the weekend, but the rest of the school did, because come Monday we had pretty well managed to transform our little school into Sunnydale. There were werewolves and vampires and creatures that went bump in the night, and even a couple of the teachers got into the act as Principal Snyder and Giles and Ms. Calendar.
Tuesday was so much fun! One girl played Cordelia and another boy was Angel (though I didn’t like him I had to pretend to) and there was even a Xander. We got into ‘fights’ with the vampires and werewolves and dutifully kicked their first-grade behinds.
Then Wednesday happened.
I guess we did too good a job kicking butt. We were out for recess, and we’d separated to play. Well, when we went back inside I looked around but no Cass. I asked the teacher, Mr. T———–, and he said he hadn’t seen her come in either.
Then there’s a knock on the door.
Mr. T———– opens the door and all there is is a note stuck to it, written in 6-year-old scrawl:
Send Buffy or Willow dies – the Master
We think it’s all a game, still, so Mr. T———– lets me leave. I walk down the hallway, wondering what to do next since there weren’t any directions on the note. Then these hands grab me and pull a bag over my head and I’m kicking and swinging but I didn’t manage to connect, though I hold onto my bag.
A couple minutes later I hear a door close and the bag is pulled off my head. It looks like we’re in one of the gym supply closets.
I whirl and there’s Cass, held by a bunch of kids who didn’t look really happy; she must have fought them hard because she’s got a hell of a shiner coming on and her hair’s mussed.
“What’s going on?” I yell, not caring it’s the middle of the day and we’re in school.
“You have incon- in- made me mad!” says one kid from the back. He’s dressed in black pleather and has something on his head which kinda makes him look bald, so I’m guessing he’s playing the Master. He doesn’t really have the menace down, and my mad’s up, so I’m not exactly backing down.
“Let her go!” I demand.
“No. I have read the prophecy, and you must both die.”
Then Cass screams; one of the brothers ugly must have pulled her wrong.
I lose it.
So you know all those moves I had practiced, based on watching the show over and over? Turns out I wasn’t so far off, because I start spinning at them and kicking and punching like nobody’s business.
I’m sure some of the kids still thought we were playing, but I wasn’t, not any more.
One grabbed my hair and pulled; I had long hair as a little girl, it wasn’t until I got away from home that I went to my favorite pixie cut. This kid grabbed, and damn, it hurt, so now I’m personally pissed.
I pushed backwards into him, using the pull for an extra boost, and slam him into the wall.
Two more rush at me and all I do is step to the side. They slam into the same wall.
The kid playing the Master forgets he’s supposed to send his minions and runs towards me. I brace against the wall with one foot and kick up between his legs.
There are three kids left holding onto Cass, who’s still screaming, but they’re not letting go.
That’s where it all sort of goes sideways.
I kinda forget I wasn’t actually Buffy, and these aren’t actually vampires.
I pull a stake out from behind my back and charge at them.
Two see the crazy in my eyes and let go, putting Cass between me and them, but the third is still holding on to one arm and yelling at me to stop or he’ll hurt her.
I swing the stake at her and it penetrates her upper arm.
Suddenly there’s blood everywhere and he’s on the ground screaming too, Cass is sobbing, and everyone else who could move is out of there.
Finally a teacher reacts to the noise. She came in and this is what she sees:
Two boys and a girl in more-or-less of a heap against one wall.
A third boy writhing on the ground, clutching his groin.
A second girl on the ground with a bloody stake through her upper arm.
And then me, on the ground, rocking and holding Cass and telling her that it was all over and I saved her and she was safe now. Cass, meanwhile, isn’t doing much more than whimpering.
That was the end of any learning for the day for all of us. First they got the stake out and wrapped her arm – her name was Lyssa – to stop the bleeding. Then they were waking the ones who were knocked out, and convincing the Master, Jeremy, he was going to live.
Meanwhile the principal squatted down and was trying to talk to me. I don’t remember particularly what I said, but I suspect I wasn’t overly coherent.
Cass, though, was surprisingly eloquent once she’d calmed down. She explained that they’d come to her at recess and convinced her they were going to play a fun game, called ‘Buffy rescues Willow,’ and so she went with them. She didn’t know they were going to kidnap me, or hold her so tightly, or actually try to hurt me.
The clincher, the thing that got me out of trouble, was the note that Mr. T———– wisely held onto. In light of what they wrote, the principal decided I was justified in what I did. Nobody ended up in trouble, though costume-wearing was reduced to only the day of Halloween from then on.
Funnily enough, Lyssa and I went on to be good friends all the rest of school. She never held a grudge, once I promised to teach her the moves I used. We even went on a couple double dates with Cass and one of her boyfriends in high school, and eventually she came to work with me in the Federation. But that’s another story.