The pumpkin was simple, yet unique.
Not your average shade of tangerine orange. More of a rich honey color. Three faint kelly green stripes bled from the stem, reaching halfway down one side.
The shape was mostly round, a small bulge the size of a fist near the top.
Perfectly normal for carving a perfectly ordinary jack-o-lantern.
Or so the Pattersons thought.
This is their story. (Law and Order theme “dun, dun”)
“Scary or funny?” Aubrey blew at a stray lock of hair, her hands goopy from scooping out the pumpkin.
Nancy nibbled her lip and considered her daughter’s question. “Let’s split the difference and go with romantic.”
“A romantic pumpkin? Is there even such a thing?”
“Won’t know ‘til we try.” Nancy shrugged.
Aubrey chuckled and grabbed the carving knife. “Can’t wait to see dad’s face when he sees this one.”
Nancy rolled her eyes and dropped a pile of pumpkin guts in the trash can.
An hour later their masterpiece was complete, staged front and center on the front porch so the neighborhood could see the flirty eyes of one passionate pumpkin awaiting her true love.
**Twenty-four hours later**
“Daddy’s home!” Aubrey jumped into her father’s arms.
He greeted her with an umph. “Aren’t you a little old for that?”
“Not eighteen yet, Pops.” She punched his arm despite his scowl.
“Have a safe trip?” Nancy greeted with a kiss.
He sighed. “Glad to be home. I hate weekend business trips. I was worried I might miss the big night. Speaking of which, it’s almost time for trick-or-treating. Aren’t you going to carve the pumpkin?”
Nancy paused. “We did. Didn’t you pass it on the way in?”
“I saw the pumpkin but it isn’t carved yet.”
“What do you mean, Pops?” Aubrey yanked open the door. “We spent forever cutting that thing.”
The three stepped onto the front porch.
“I…but…I don’t understand.” Nancy rubbed the smooth surface of the honey colored pumpkin.
Aubrey pressed against the familiar bulge, tracing the unique green stripes. “There was a face right here.”
“How is this possible?”
A minute passed in silence.
Aubrey patted the pumpkin with care. “Don’t you know, mom? It’s Halloween night. This was a glitch in the Matrix.”
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2019