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Grimalkin's Vignette-Halloween

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Ever since she was little, Lynn loved Halloween, for a wide variety of reasons. For one thing, along with Thanksgiving it was one of the two non-Jewish holidays her family celebrated. Her father was a fairly relaxed Conservative Jew who loved horror movies, and he saw no harm in letting his kids dress up like monsters and eat candy; after a fairly heated discussion, he finally convinced her mother it was one thing the kids could share with their Gentile friends and schoolmates. During her Aladdin phase, young Sherilyn Epstein dressed up as Princess Jasmine three years in a row, and cried for days when her mom told her she'd completely grown out of the costume and would have to be someone else.


The memory of her childhood tantrum made Grim smile as she perched like a gargoyle over Broadway, watching people troop in and out of one of the ubiquitous Halloween stores, shopping bags in hand. It always amazed her how man of these places popped up in empty storefront in October, like black and orange mushrooms after a dark and stormy night. What was it about fake cobwebs and rubber skeletons that thrilled her so? Even as a little kid, the morbid and ghoulish fascinated her, especially stories that touched upon her family's past, and both sides of her family tree had a few dark and twisted branches.


Her great-great-grandfather Karl Epstein was an opportunistic thug who supposedly fled a murder charge in Germany, sailing to America using a dead man's name; he became a bootlegger and mob enforcer, at one time almost as feared as the legendary Dutch Schultz. Her great-grandfather Ira Silberman started as a simple cabinetmaker, but started designing trick trunks and tables for master illusionists like Blackstone and Berastro, eventually performing on stage himself as "the Amazing Al-Kazara". However, when the limelight faded, he used his genuine occult powers (discovered quite by chance) to fight evil in the shadows, even aiding the Liberty League on occasion. He pulled off his final vanishing act back in 1957, and hadn't been seen since.


So in a very real sense mischief ran in her veins, the blood of tricksters and thieves, mummers and murders, all before her transformation into a living breathing fairy tale. After meeting Mr. Silver at his Lantern Hill shop back in September, it all started to make sense; magic didn't just touch the life of anyone, it sought out those who were pre-disposed to it, either by birth or circumstance, or possibly both. And that put Lynn right in the mystical crosshairs of the universe.


A loud gurgle from her stomach told her it might be a good time to make dinner plans, so Grim quietly made her way down the side of the building, invisible to all, and stepped out of the alley in her street clothes, as herself. Sometimes it was like her life before the change had happened to somebody else; she could barely remember a time when she couldn't look and dress exactly how she wanted to, slipping from one guise to another as easy as blinking. She almost pitied the rest of the world, stuck in one body and one face from cradle to grave, to be instantly judged, labeled and categorized by others by all who see them. How did she live before she broke free of the shackles of self?


As she stood in line by the pushcart, waiting her turn for a kosher red hot, she suddenly felt the vast gulf that separated her from the rest of humanity; did being able to be anyone mean that she was, in fact, no one? Her guts twisted and her head went light, but soon the moment passed. No; everyone presents a mask to the world, a different face for lovers, coworkers, children and bosses. She was just better at it than most people, that's all. She was still as human as anyone else, she just had more options.


Smiling at the push cart vendor, she took her dog and diet Coke and wandered off into the night, humming a tune to herself that she didn't quite recognize. But once she did, she laughed and belted out the lyrics as loud as she could.


"I gotta be me! I gotta be me!"Â

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