One day, in the middle of dinner, Charlie suddenly grinned and set down his fork. “I have a great costume idea. Can we get some Miracle Grow?”
Marianne shrugged. “We have some in the shed. Did you need some extra large pumpkins or something?”
Charlie rolled his eyes. “Not that kind. I want the kind that grows hair fast. I want to grow a long beard by Halloween.”
“A beard?” Isaac chuckled. “You’re too young for a beard. Even if there was something for growing hair fast, it wouldn’t work for you.”
“I’m not a little kid.” Charlie scowled. “You always think I’m little, but I’m not.”
Marianne patted his shoulder. “Even teenagers have a hard time growing beards. You have to be a lot older than that to grow a long beard.”
Charlie slumped in his chair. “No way. There goes my great idea.” Then he sat up again, looking hopeful. “Do they make chin wigs? I could wear a chin wig.”
“A fake beard?” Marianne smiled. “They do. There’s all sorts of fake beards. What kind do you have in mind?”
“I want a long, gray beard.” Charlie sat up and pretended to run his hand through a long beard. “You know, like the time-traveling wizard in the dinosaur movie.”
“That’s a great idea. I could make you a gray robe like his, and I’ll bet your dad could help you figure out how to make a hat that would look like his.” Marianne pointed to his fork. “Keep eating. I want to work out in the garden while we still have some sunlight. You may not want giant pumpkins for your costume, but I plan on winning the neighborhood jack-o-lantern contest again this year, and home grown pumpkins are always better.”
Charlie picked up his fork. “What will you carve this year?”
“It’s a secret.”
Charlie pouted. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”
“A secret stays a secret if it never gets told. Keep eating.”
Isaac was still thinking about fake beards. “Do you think we could make one with gray yarn?”
“Make what?” Marianne looked confused. “I don’t use outside materials in my finished jack-o-lanterns, you know that. I like them traditional.”
“No, a beard.” Isaac rubbed his chin. “Wouldn’t it be fun to make our own?”
“But how would we get it to stick to my chin?” Charlie thought for a moment. “Is there wig glue?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we could attach it to your hat.”
Charlie shook his head. “Then it would come off whenever I raised my hat to all the people in dinosaur costumes. That’s part of the fun.”
“Well, we have time to figure that out,” Marianne said. “It’s a good thing we’re starting to think about this so early. You’ll have a better costume since we have time to plan.”
“We have a good start already. Maybe your mom and I should plan our costumes too.”
Marianne frowned. “But I don’t want to dress up.”
Charlie waved his hands. “Wait. We may not have time for that. We haven’t discussed the hard part of my costume.”
“The beard isn’t the hard part? I don’t think the hat will give me too much trouble. I’ll make a cardboard and wire frame and use the same cloth as the robes. Some buttons and tassels and…”
“Not the hat,” Charlie interrupted. “I think you’re forgetting the best part of the costume. We need to build a time machine. I think that’ll probably take the rest of the month, and then we’ll have to make some test runs. Probably not all the way back to visit dinosaurs at first. We can start with Atlantis or ancient Egypt.”
“You want a time machine?” Marianne laughed. “That’s even less possible than growing a beard.”
“I can help you make one out of cardboard. You can paint it out on the back patio if you put down newspapers.” Isaac smiled.
Charlie scowled. “What fun is that? A chin wig and a cardboard time machine? I won’t be a time-traveling wizard at all. Not really.”
“Halloween is about pretending. Almost none of the costumes are real. Finish eating.” Marianne pointed to his fork again. Charlie sighed and took another bite.
“It’s a good thing, you know. Think of all of those clown costumes. What if they were real clowns?” Isaac grinned. Marianne and Charlie rolled their eyes in unison.
“If you help me grow the pumpkins, I’ll let you carve your own this year,” Marianne told Charlie.
“Of course. You’re not a little kid anymore, right?”
“That’s right.” Charlie grinned, then shoved the last few bites into his mouth at once and attempted to chew while barely able to close his mouth.”
“Maybe I spoke to soon.” Marianne laughed at Charlie’s glare. “Just kidding. But next time, you should probably take smaller bites. As soon as you’re done, we can take our plates to the sink and go out to the garden.”
After they left, Isaac cleared the table. He paused at the sink to look out the window. He smiled at the sight of his little family happily working together in the garden. All was right in the world. Who needs a time machine on days like this?