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Halloween Story Writing Contest
2008 Halloween Story Contest : Showcase : High Ceilings

Halloween Creative Writing Story Showcase

High Ceilings

By Jordan Tatman

Halloween StoriesI distinctly recall the color of the ceiling in the Parkland Hospital waiting room. As I waited for my mother to get off work each Saturday night I'd lay down on one of the couches in the waiting room and try to make pictures out of the spackling on the muddy yellow ceiling. Sometimes I'd spot a unicorn or an elephant; sometimes I could see the faint outline of my mother or my favorite teacher Ms. Castillo. On this particular night I was looking for spooky pictures. Witches, cats, and scary pumpkins danced across the ceiling, keeping me occupied until my mother's shift ended and she was ready to take me trick-or-treating.

"Well hello little witch," a deep voice said, interrupting my ceiling pictures and my thoughts.

I sat up to identify the voice and came face to face with my father.

My parents split up when I was in kindergarten. Between my mom's long hours and Daddy's drinking I guess you could say they weren't exactly the perfect parents, but I loved them both. When the divorce was finalized the court granted my mom full custody and since then Dad had tried several times to get full custody of me. Each time the court ruled that my mom could keep me with only slim visitation for Daddy and each time he grew more bitter and fell into a pattern of heavy drinking. He'd never done anything rash around me. He'd shown up at the hospital drunk once and he and my mom fought each time he came for visitation, but really he just seemed like a grumpier, scarier version of the Daddy I knew. Tonight I could smell liquor strong on his breath and I prepared myself for another scene.

"Well don't you look cute honey," Daddy slurred.

"Thanks," I said slowly. "I'm a scary witch."

"Yes you are, very scary," Daddy said. "Sweetie where's your mom at? I've got a quick question for her."

I pointed a fat finger towards the nurses' station. "Ask them."

"Thank you honey," Daddy said as he stumbled towards the nurses' station where my mom's best friend Nurse Adams sat reviewing patient files.

I laid back down on the couch and desperately searched for more pictures in the ceiling. In the back of my head I knew Daddy was fighting with Nurse Adams, but I kept focused on the black cat and alien I'd found in the ceiling.

A yelp broke through the barrier I'd planted in my head and I turned to see Nurse Adams struggling for the phone. Daddy shoved her back, but she held onto the phone tightly. Several nurses rushed over to help her and I tugged my witch's hat down over my eyes and wrapped my cape around me a little together.

Suddenly I felt Daddy scoop me up. I didn't scream. I didn't struggle. I just let him take me away. My mom's lawyer had told her to teach me not to fight if Daddy ever tried to come take me away from her. That Halloween I didn't squirm, I didn't yell, I don't even remember breathing.

Daddy got me to his car, buckled me in, and drove me across state lines. It was three days before my mom and the police found me and took me back home.

I didn't go trick-or-treating that year. Or the next year, or any year ever again. My mother and I moved from our old house and that old hospital to a new house and a new hospital with flat white ceilings. •

© 2008 Jordan Tatman, Plano East Senior High School.

10/10/08