It’s in the Bag – A Loving Sarajevo Halloween Short by CL Mustafic


The fallen leaves crunched under their shoes and there was a definite hint of the long winter to come in the air. Nikola walked slowly down the street next to Gage, shivering as the autumn wind gusted because Gage hadn’t let him wear a coat. He was sure the three thermals under his costume were the only things keeping him from succumbing to hypothermia. Nikola would suffer through it though because it was Halloween night and Gage was having the time of his life taking Hana from door to door begging for treats.

Nikola reached up and scratched his head for the hundredth time that night – the temporary hair dye Gage talked him into using was making his scalp itch. Nikola decided he really didn’t care for dressing up, but at least he’d talked Gage out of making him dress up as Dracula. If he had to hear Gage beg him to say ‘I vant to suck yer blood’ one more time he’d kick the man’s ass. Nikola swore his accent sounded nothing like the Count’s but Gage got a kick out of it none the less.

“Want to try this one, B?” Gage asked Hana who was walking at his side.

“Sure that looks like a good one,” Hana said, nearly vibrating with excitement. It was her first American Halloween and she was having almost as much fun as Gage.

Nikola snorted. Hana thought every house looked like a good one. Why wouldn’t she? They all gave out candy by the handful. Nikola followed them up the porch stairs as Gage waited for him to step up beside them before ringing the doorbell.

Nikola fidgeted while Gage stood with his bag positioned in front of him waiting for the unsuspecting homeowner to open the door. It took only a moment since most people were ready and waiting to hand out treats as quickly as they could so they could shut off their light and have some peace and quiet for the rest of the night.

The door swung open and an older lady stood on the threshold frozen in shock after getting a glimpse of them. Gage elbowed Nikola. “Trick or Treat,” they chorused. Gage’s rendition of the phrase held much more pep than the lack luster version Nikola muttered.

Waiting for the inevitable to happen, Nikola bit his lip to hold back his smile. “Aren’t you boys a bit old to be trick or treating?” the lady asked as she took in the two giant Oompa Loompas on her porch.

Gage grinned as he played along once again. “But I got all dressed up and I’m lugging around this huge bag. It’s practically empty. See?” He pulled the bag open.

The lady looked inside – they all did. “Trick or Treat!” Hana yelled from inside the bag making the poor woman jump in surprise. Hana giggled at her trick that kept on working.

“Oh my!” the woman exclaimed. “That was some surprise. You tricked me so I guess that means I have to give you a treat.” Her smile was genuine as she looked down at the little girl in the giant bag. Reaching into her bowl, she brought out three full sized candy bars and put them in Hana’s bag.

“Wow thanks!” Hana said with big eyes for all the candy.

“Thanks,” Gage said, all puffy chested. He was damn proud of himself and his crazy idea for Hana’s costume.

Nikola also thanked the lady before the three of them made their way down the stairs and back out onto the sidewalk. Gage put his arm around Nikola’s waist, immune to the stares they got from the other parents walking their own little ghosts and goblins around the neighborhood.

“See, we’ll have that bag full in no time and then we can go home and I’ll do exactly what I promised you I’d do if you dressed up with me,” Gage said.

“She gave me three big chocolate bars,” Hana said interrupting the images that had just started forming in Nikola’s mind. She was looking into her bag, inspecting her haul not paying any attention to her babo and daddy.

“I know, that’s the third house in a row that’s given you extra treats. Told you my idea would work.” Gage winked.

Nikola shook his head. Gage was the one who come up with the idea for him and Nikola to dress up like they were the ones trick or treating. It had also been his idea for Hana to go dressed as a giant trick or treating bag that Gage would appear to be carrying. He’d wanted to just tape a bunch of paper bags together but Hana blanched at the idea of going as a brown paper bag for her first Halloween –  wanting to go as Cinderella. Gage’s mom thought up a much better idea of making a decorated bag out of purple felt and glued on Halloween images. The design convinced Hana that being a bag was as good as being a princess plus she loved a good prank as much as Gage did.

Nikola scratched his head again. “You’d better make good on that promise. This hair dye is eating my head and I’m pretty sure that orange isn’t my color.” Nikola complained while looking at his orange tinged hand.

“I told you I’d make sure every inch of your body is clear of green dye and orange paint. I’ll keep my word… even if it takes all night.” Gage’s husky voice promised a long shower and much, much more when they got home.

Nikola’s shiver had nothing to do with the chill in the air. He decided maybe dressing up wasn’t so bad after all.

CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.





Other books by CL Mustafic

“Satin Secrets” in the Beneath the Layers Anthology

Falling for Him

Loving Sarajevo