It didn't matter that most of this old house was carpeted; the high ceilings caused voices to carry. "Witches don't wear socks!" I heard Raz yell. I opened my bedroom door to find her standing at the top of the stairs in her underwear with her hands on her hips and a wide-banded, pointy black hat on her head.
"I could dig out a pair of Grandma Stella's itchy black wool stockings for you, if you like." Mom's voice carried up the stairwell.
Raz gave a six year-old's exaggerated huff. "I'll find something else!" She turned from the stairs and spotted me in the doorway. "Morning, Alex. What are you being for Halloween?"
"Me. What are you supposed to be?" I was beyond slow, first thing in the morning.
"A scary witch," she cackled, raising her clawed hands next to her face.
"You don't look very scary."
"But YOU sure do!" Giggling and shrieking, she bolted for her room and slammed the door.
"OH! Burned by a six year-old. Slipping at your game, are you?" Cassie called from the bathroom across the wide landing.
I hated morning people.
She was applying mascara, and of course, was already dressed in her cheerleader uniform. Her long, dark hair was styled into cascades of ringlets, and a light blush highlighted her fair, slightly freckled cheeks. She had taken to Mom's Irish roots, while I had the darker complexion of my Mediterranean-born father.
Stepping out of my room, I felt the usual tingle as I passed through the wards Grandma Stella set over my room. I dragged myself over to Cassie. "She's just lucky I'm not awake yet." How's that for a sharp retort? I'd had another lousy night's sleep. That made for three nights in a row. I'd felt compelled to draw lately, which wasn't weird, but my drawings had been - well - dark. I wasn't even sure myself what I was drawing, but I found them disturbing, and I tossed most of the night, trying to figure them out.
"Aren't you going to dress up? The more people in your class in costume, the more points you make, and the closer you are to earning a pizza party."
"Oh yeah. A pizza party. In class. With a bunch of morons. Next time, maybe."
"What do you mean, 'morons'?" Cassie was everybody's best friend.
"Boys. Need I say more?"