The sun on his shoulders was northern March, warming his soul more than his body. Laughter caught his ear and turned his head.
He had always been drawn to the happiness of others.
A copse of trees obscured his view but he could feel the lives hidden from sight, knew that they were there waiting for him.
Sadly, he had no choice but to move toward them.
Lawrence didn’t have friends when he was growing up. Children like him never do. People hate being around someone who sucks all the joy away from them, leaving them empty.
He learned to walk gently, leaving no footprints. People did not see him coming, or hear his speech.
He slowly bled from other people’s reality, slipping away quietly.
Linda was happy. She knew she was. She had been all day. Nothing had changed, she was still lying on the rug in the trees with Sebastian. The blanket was still holding the chill at bay. His fingers were still dancing in her palm.
But it had all changed.
She wasn’t happy.
Linda felt someone watching her, someone, something, not right.
Sebastian could tell something was wrong with her, his sensitivity stretched that far. His fingers stopped their waltz. They encircled and tightened, he was trying to be supportive.
Linda turned as chills rippled along her spine. Something was there, just beyond the trees, moving this way. She was the vole that hears the brush of wind over feather. She was the gazelle that sees the swirl in the watering hole. The soldier watching the tumbling canister. She was scared.
She was emptying.
She was sad, so very sad.
Lawrence felt the flow, watched as the happiness was dragged from the girl on the rug. He felt her joys disappear, felt satiated and angry and it filled him to the point of bursting.
Once more his head was filled with the singing of another’s life. Again he knew what it was to be happy at the world, but again the happiness was not his to claim.
Like him it left no footprints.
He hated his job.
Sarah Maclean had never believed such a thing could happen to her. No one does until they are faced with the moment. Her parents, her younger sister and brother, the rest of her family, gone. She was apart now, she felt she was drifting, floating away. Of course she hadn’t expected it, she understood now that no one does.
She was so very sad, so very alone, so very scared.
His head was full and his eyes streaming with the pressure of her feelings. He had to close his eyes tight to keep it all inside until the right moment. It was not a saw the stream. It was flowing toward her, unwavering in its direction. A thin line of brilliance, beyond silver and past white, it glistened as it approached. As it neared her it spilt into two strands, one heading for each of her outstretched palms. She felt its warmth and was aware of her feet no longer touching the ground.
He watched the last of light disappearing over the horizon. Like always he felt a pull, a direction. He started walking away from the young couple, his internal compass directing him, insistent and unavoidable.
“What’s the matter darling?” Sebastian asked, concerned.
“Oh, nothing.” She saw his concern, felt his love for her. She was happy, the moment of terror and sadness fled.
“Someone just walked over my grave.”
He smiled at her and she was happy.
“Mrs Maclean?” The officer’s face was low. He hated his job.
“Yes…what is it?” She knew she didn’t want to know.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. We believe your daughter, Sarah, was involved in a car accident this evening, I’m afraid she didn’t make it. We need you to confirm her identity. I’m sorry.”
He walked on toward his new job.
The sand was cold underfoot.
He walked gently. No footprints marked his passing.