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Just didn’t seem fair as a kid.
An adult head on a small body.
I was teased in the classroom,
pushed in the halls, jeers of
Pumpkinhead echoed against

the chambers of locker-lined
hallways. I’d sob in the bathroom
stall, wishing my life away, wondering
why my head couldn’t be smaller, why
I couldn’t be paper-doll pretty. The sun

never eclipsed the shadows of memory.
Not through college or graduate school,
not through marriage or kids. Not until
that day at the fair. Mermaids and
magicians, fairies and witches, a

fantasy world in the woods, children
with painted faces and fists stained with
rainbowed popcorn and cotton candy
frolicking among bubbles and butterflies
with glittery wings and a 7-foot man on stilts

weaving his way through the crowds.
And on a bench, a child, her eyes
downcast, shoulders stooped. Honey-
blonde hair, paper-doll pretty. What tears
could she be swallowing? I held

back my own, walked past her. “I love
your hair!” She looked at me, smiled.
I offered her popcorn, bunched in
a wrapper in my hand. “No thank you,”
she said meekly. I wished her a good

day and walked away. A few moments
later, I saw her whisper to her mom and
dash over to a vendor to buy some popcorn.
After all those years, all those tears, I’d
found a purpose to being a Pumpkinhead.


Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland with her husband of 39 years. Their two sons live in Texas and New York. She is retired from careers in public relations and journalism, and now spends time writing poetry, scrapbooking, making cards, and refereeing their 3 rescue cats and foster dog.

© 2019, Shelly Blankman

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