Anthony Gambino


October 1998. I was six years old. Our first-grade teacher sent us home one night with an assignment to write a Halloween story. She encouraged us to write whatever kind of story we wanted, as long as it was about Halloween. I wrote a short horror story about a child who walks through a cemetery on Halloween night and encounters many of the ghosts that inhabit it, learning about their tragic endings. When I finished the story, I presented it to my parents, chin up, chest out and full of pride. When they finished it, their body language did not reflect my pride. At first, I thought they must be confused because of all the spelling and grammar errors. Turns out, it wasn’t the writing errors at all. I come from a family of immigrants. Proper English is rare. My parents were not confused, they were concerned. I remember my mother’s hand quivering so much that I thought I heard her fingers weeping. She winced as she asked me, “Poops…are you OK?” (Did I mention my nickname was…and still is… ‘Poops?’ Suddenly, a six-year-old writing a ghost story isn’t the scariest part of this little memoir). I paused for a second. I let their reactions register. I let their question with all of its shuddering syllables register, and then I…

(To find out what happens, finish reading. Don’t be lazy.)
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