Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s work has been published or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Image of The Current - The Current
Originally published in Suddenly, And Without Warning
My older sister Nancy and I walk down the street together. In our hands are plastic grocery bags that smell like shame and old onions. We are going trick-or-treating. I know we're getting too old for it. I'm ten and Nan's thirteen. But Nan says we need this. She says not to worry about Mom and Dad—not to think about the bills, the angry phone calls, or the frowning men taking the TV and sofas.
"They have nothing to do with us," Nan says. "Not tonight, at least. This is our time."
I'm dressed as a bum. Easy enough. My jeans are already ripped, with mud that never seems to disappear.
Nan's dressed as a princess in one of Mom's old lavender gowns. She's even wearing lipstick. She looks so beautiful, especially when she smiles—like some actress. Her blue eyes sparkle, like Mom's did back when she still laughed and played games with us . . . before all the phone calls.
I don't want to tell Nan all this. She might think I'm a sissy.
I've cried too much already. But this is Halloween.
People smile and load us up with Skittles, Baby Ruths, York Peppermint Patties.
One woman asks if the bags are big enough.
"It's a disguise," Nan jokes. "It's, uh, a magical bag. Bigger than you think."
I just look down.
"Isn't that right, Nicky?" Nan says. She winks and smiles. A sad smile.
Leaves crackle and rise into the air. So many houses are full of lights and furniture. So many houses that aren't our own.
"Right," I say quickly. "A king gave them to us. Room for endless candy. And if we don't fill them up, he'll be very disappointed. And we won't get to inherit his kingdom when he kicks the bucket."
Nan laughs at that line so hard, even if the woman looks at me like I'm a freak.
The sound of Nan's laugh reminds me of a goose, but I love it. She's my big sister.
Of course, the bags rip halfway home, candy spilling left and right, onto lawns and sidewalks.
"It's all right, Nicky," Nan says as we run around, trying to pick it all up.
"It's my fault," I say.
Nan shakes her head, looking at me quickly. "Don't say that, Nicky. Please don't talk about faults."
I just smile and make a face.
We get half the candy.
But the other half's gone.
But at least we'll have something to fight over and share.
Of course, by the time we've gotten home, they've taken the dining room table. The chairs are gone, too. Taken back by the furniture company. The only place to sort our candy is the floor.
Nan and I push and shove and giggle, while Mom and Dad try to laugh. Their smiles are walking over a cliff, though. So, we shove and laugh some more. Later, we settle on the candy we knew we wanted anyway. Nice fruity, crunchy Skittles and creamy York Peppermint Patties for Nan, caramel-filled Snickers and Dum-Dums for me.
We sleep on bare floors with aching stomachs, this candy is the only thing we've eaten since breakfast. I try not to think about the rest of the candy out there on someone's lawn. Try not to think about the rich kids eating it, laughing at us from behind their windows, heat blazing as they snuggle on their sofas.
I could puke. But I have to laugh.
At least they didn't take everything.

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