The Sweetest Treat
By Jacob Lockett, emerging author, Pennsylvania.
Roshni finished making her costume at five o’clock on Halloween night. Happy with her work, she ran downstairs.
“What do you think, Mama?” she asked. “I’m a khargosh.”
Mama turned from the stove, where she was cooking. “Wow!” she said. “You’re such a cute little bunny!”
Roshni giggled. “A cute little bunny that can jump really high!” she said, hopping around the room on spring shoes she had made herself.
Mama handed Roshni a pumpkin-shaped bucket. “Ready to trick-or-treat at school tonight?”
“Yep,” Roshni said. “I love getting candy!”
“Remember, you have time to go trick-or-treating at just one or two houses before going to school,” Mama said. “And I want you back by dinner.”
Roshni nodded excitedly.
Mama hugged her. “Get hopping. Halloween comes only once a year!”
With a spring in her step, Roshni bounced out the door and into the cool night air, her large bunny ears flopping this way and that. Kids ran around the street, dressed in fun costumes.
As Roshni hopped to school, she looked around her neighborhood, deciding which house to go trick-or-treating. A house with a ramp and a brightly lit pumpkin by the door caught her eyes. She remembered Mama telling her that a new family had moved in recently.
Curious to see what her new neighbors were like, she went over to the house and rang the bell.
The door opened.
“Trick or treat!” Roshni shouted.
A boy in a wheelchair appeared, a candy bowl sitting in his lap.
Roshni recognized him. He was DeAndre Lewis, the new kid at her school. He was in a different grade than Roshni, but she sometimes saw him in the hallway. He always seemed… lonely.
She waved. “Do you remember me from school? I’m Roshni.”
“Sure. I do remember,” DeAndre said, smiling. He rummaged around in the bowl, giving Roshni a Nougat Rocket Bar. “Super costume!”
Roshni blushed. “Thanks! I’m a khargosh—that’s the Hindi word for bunny.”
“That’s really cool,” he said.
“So, are you trick-or-treating?” Roshni asked.
DeAndre shook his head sadly. “My mom’s too sick with a cold to take me out tonight.”
Roshni gasped. She couldn’t imagine not going trick-or-treating. She looked at DeAndre’s sad face, and Mama’s words came back to her: Halloween comes only once a year…
“I can take you trick-or-treating,” she offered.
DeAndre’s eyes shone with hope. “Really? That would be wonderful! I’ll go ask Mom.”
DeAndre returned to the door with Mrs. Lewis. “You must be Roshni,” she said, sniffling. “Your mother told me so much about you at the store last week. DeAndre said you want to take him trick-or-treating with you.”
Roshni explained about their school’s Trick-or-Treat Fair and how there would be lots of treats, games, and contests for DeAndre to enjoy.
“Sounds like a good time!” Mrs. Lewis said. She turned to DeAndre. “Get your costume, honey. You can go have some Halloween fun with Roshni tonight.”
DeAndre’s face lit up just like the jack-o’-lantern that sat outside his door. He turned around and disappeared. He soon came outside wearing a superhero’s mask and a long cape.
“DeAndre, I want you back by seven,” Mrs. Lewis said. “Now, go have fun.”
The kharagosh and the superhero went off into the moonlit night. In no time at all, they arrived outside the school, which was covered with Halloween decorations. After DeAndre wheeled himself up the long entrance ramp, he and Roshni entered the cafeteria to the sound of spooky music and laughter.
They went around to different booths, collecting delicious treats from their teachers.
As Mrs. Garcia handed the kids each a pack of Licorice Lassos, DeAndre asked Roshni, “What are your favorite sweets?”
“I have so many!” she replied. “But I think my favorite would have to be galub jamuns. I make them with Mama for special occasions. They’re kinda like spongy—”
“Donut holes!” DeAndre finished.
“How did you know?” Roshni asked, surprised.
“I had one during Multicultural Day at my old school,” DeAndre explained. “It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I make them with my mom now, too!”
They laughed, high-fiving.
After they were done trick-or-treating, Roshni entered the costume contest. After Roshni and the other contestants had displayed their outfits for the judges, Principal Jackson cleared his throat near the microphone. “And, the first prize goes to Roshni Kaur with her homemade bunny costume! Come on up!”
“Way to go!” DeAndre cheered loudly from the audience as Roshni hopped on stage to receive her blue ribbon.
DeAndre pointed at the haunted house in the corner of the cafeteria. “Let’s go in there.”
Roshni shivered. “I don’t know…”
“Have no fear!” DeAndre shouted, striking a pose. “I’ll protect you!”
“Ok,” Roshni said. “As long as you protect me, I won’t get scared.”
They went into the haunted house. Kids dressed as monsters jumped out from the shadows to try to frighten them. But every time they did, DeAndre would boom, “Back, you villains!” in his superhero voice. Roshni couldn’t stop smiling. Because of DeAndre, she didn’t get scared, not even once.
After they bobbed for apples, they sat at the snack table and drank pumpkin punch and talked about their favorite scary movies. All of Roshni’s favorites were DeAndre’s favorites, too!
Soon, Roshni checked her watch. She felt her heart drop. “It’s almost seven,” she said glumly. “Time for us to go home.”
“Aw,” DeAndre moaned, shaking his head sadly. “Do we have to?”
DeAndre guided his wheelchair down the school’s ramp and onto the sidewalk. He looked up at Roshni. “Thanks for taking me. I had a blast!”
“Sure,” she replied, swinging her bucket of candy as she hopped. “Halloween comes only once a year!”
“Do you… want to trade candy tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yes, we can do it at my house,” Roshni replied. “You can help me make gulab jamuns when we’re done at my home. Mama would love it.”
DeAndre giggled. “Great. But… don’t you only make gulab jamuns for special occasions?”
Roshni blushed. “I do,” she replied. “But you’re the special occasion.”
Now DeAndre was blushing, too!
On that Halloween night, Roshni had collected many sweet treats. But the sweetest one she had received was a new friend, DeAndre.
By Jacob Lockett, emerging author, Pennsylvania.