I had eaten far too many sweets. My haul had been devoured, my Mum’s morning fry unwelcome. I took a glass of water instead.
I hated the day after Hallowe’en. It was like a useless day, one where nobody did anything. I did have one neighbour who always took the decorations down and replaced them with Christmas ones. She was weird. My Mum called her a “rusher”.
Rusher, despite being far too eager, was also a pumpkin dumper. This was a sin that my Dad was guilty of too. They were in cahoots, Rusher and Dad, despite barely talking to each other outside of pumpkin-related matters. Mum once described their relationship as a “marriage of convenience”, seeing as Dad could drive and Rusher knew where best to dump the carcasses. The places she led him to were a haven for badgers who, according to Rusher, would consider their pumpkins a delicious treat.
That morning, Dad came into the kitchen wearing hiking boots and a parka jacket. He had that look on his face, like he was ready for his top-secret mission. He checked his watch far too many times. Then he downed a glass of milk and straightened himself up.
“Right love. I’m away now.”
Mum just smiled and he left. Dad had never told us he was a pumpkin dumper. Mum thought it was because he was afraid to implicate us in his crime. We knew of course, nothing much got past Mum. That and Rusher had no problem telling her what they were up to. Mum never wanted to spoil Dad’s deepest, darkest secret though, so she kept quiet.
Harvey, the dog, wanted to go outside. I was still feeling ill from the sweet binge, so I decided to take him a walk. I waited until I thought Dad was gone before I went outside. I put Harvey on the leash and was about to walk up the street when I saw him, pumpkins in hand, putting them into the boot. Rusher was in the passenger seat and waved.
Dad and I stared at each other for a long time. Caught out, his face began to match the vegetable he was holding. I made the first move.
“Just walking Harvey.”
“Okay.” Dad said.
“Have a nice day.”
I walked on, forcing my head away from the car. Later on that evening, Dad told me his not-so-secret secret.
I promised I wouldn’t tell Mum. Then I went into the kitchen and told her. We laughed and had some toast. Dad joined us. A part of me was delighted I officially knew. Not because I no longer had to pretend, but because it was something we shared together. It was no longer his secret, it was ours. That was going to last much longer than the pumpkins.