"Local Woman Accidentally Terrorizes Target Customers with Noisy Clearance Halloween Decor That Won't Turn Off" by Isabella J Mansfield


I thought to myself as I stood in the store

manager’s office. "I don't know how I got here,

how it escalated to this."


Minding my own business, like every other

suburban mom, meandering every red and white

aisle with a burnt cup of coffee, a 


nagging forgetfulness for the one thing

I needed and will again leave without

(dishwasher soap, if you're keeping track)


and lured to the back of the store by

yellow and black tags screaming

"Seventy percent off!" 






And covered in glitter, crows covered in glitter,

headstones covered in glitter, bones

covered in glitter and broken


chipped plastic skulls staring in packs of 

pink and green and marigold,

Dia de los Desecration 


But crushed velvet pumpkins!

and candlesticks! and skeletons! and spiders!

and things that go bump! and there:


in the aisle between Halloween and Christmas,

where nobody remembers

Thanksgiving, the vintage gothic


telephone with the fake rotary dial,

paramount style, a handset I'll have

to explain to my son how to hold,  


and the booming, creepy voice, 70% off,

nestled into my cart between discount candy

I don't need, foam pumpkins, and the 


space for the dishwasher soap

I still haven't remembered. Twenty people,

maybe more, before the exit. It began.







In the cereal aisle, the nice young couple and the alarmed baby






to the soup, the man buying spaghettios 






the woman at the peanut butter,

only she turned around and said "geez, lady" 


I moved quick through the aisles but only

egged it on. Motion sensors fired faster.

Dread filled me at every turn








Evil laughter rang through the store.

From aisles down, shoppers looked at me

in shock, as though I was the threat. 









And before I could remember the dishwasher soap,

before I reached the greeting

cards, it haunted, taunted 


every customer it passed. Every child.

Every red shirt and khaki pants...except one.

"Ma'am...." said the manager.


"All I wanted was a pumpkin!"

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't

have shouted, 


I thought to myself as I stood in the store

manager’s office. "I don't know how

I got here, how it escalated to this."


All I wanted was a pumpkin.