Trick or Treat
The worst thing about being dressed as a dragon is the cumbersome feet. Mine are knobbly, clumpy boots with long claws and I can only keep them on by adopting a strange, stumping strut down the street.
The costume’s my older brother’s. Like always, I’ve got his hand-me-downs. For the first time ever, he didn’t want to come trick-or-treating: it’s for babies, apparently. I was fine until I got into my costume but, when I started stumping down the street, holding my tail up so it didn’t drag in the gutter, I had second thoughts. It did feel a bit babyish, especially by myself.
But I cheered up once my goody bag filled up with sweets; adults are pretty professional about Halloween these days – most of them keep stashes of Haribo and mini-Mars Bars, and some of them even give out cash.
I’m only allowed to knock on the doors of neighbours we know in the cul-de-sac. It’s the same every year and they’re all very nice, just as always, and they all say the same things to me as they did to my brother when he wore this costume… ooh, what a scary dragon… can you breathe fire?… give us a roar!
There’s one house we always walk straight past. That’s the tall, scary house that’s always in darkness, right at the top of the cul-de-sac. One man has lived in it, they say, for 250 years. He’s an old man with long white hair and old-fashioned clothes that look as if they’d fall apart if someone so much as sneezed. But I only know this from catching a glimpse of him once, when I was supposed to be in bed but was actually leaning out of my bedroom window trying to spot Mars through my binoculars.
As I pass the tall hedges that throw the old house permanently into shadow, I think to myself, hang on, trick or treating the scary old man would be the very opposite of babyish. My brother would be so impressed! So I retrace my steps and, without pausing to give myself a moment for doubt, I march up to the front door, bash the bell and shout, “Trick or treat!”
“Oh, trick, definitely,” comes a deep, mocking voice from right behind the door.
I nearly fall over in shock and, if I could have gathered my tail up more quickly, I would have been straight back down the drive, dignity to the wind. As it happens, all I can do is goggle open-mouthed as the heavy door is pulled back to reveal the tall old man, looking down at me, his eyes alight with laughter.
“What trick are you going to play on me, young Smaug?”
“I’m… going to steal all your treasure!” I shout and give an unconvincing roar.
“Dear me, well, I suppose I better hand it over,” he says indulgently and takes something small from his jacket pocket, grabs my hand and curls my fist over it. “You’ll have to forgive me for it not being real silver, but I simply couldn’t handle that.”
I open my fingers to find a perfect little shiny dragon ornament glinting back at me. Wait til my brother hears about this! I’m too excited to feel scared and call, “Thank you!” to the old man who smiles so widely that I can see all of his very long, pointy teeth.