Shiro paid the street vendor for his lemonade, unfazed by her curious glances to the glove on his hand. He understood. After all, who wore gloves on a hot summer day? Usually, he would have answered the unspoken questions with a light quip. A bit of banter went miles in getting people to overlook his many...eccentricities. Today though, he really wasn't in the mood to care what others thought. He'd been running his errands for hours and he was drenched in sweat underneath all the layers he was wearing. Plus, his companions for the day were wearing on his nerves. The energy he'd been using in ignoring them was taking its toll.
He savored the crisp drink in the welcoming shade of the cart's umbrella, prolonging his return to the harsh sunlight and the long walk home. A trio of cute teen girls stood in line to place their order. One of them, a blonde slip of a thing, had the rapt attention of her friends. Their faces wore matching expressions of concern as they listened to her pained voice.
"They're always there with me! It's such a burden!" The blonde girl shuddered and cupped her face in her hands. I know that I have to be the one to help them but, I just get overwhelmed sometimes." She looked at the short brunette girl on her left, "What would you do, Sheena? What if the spirits were calling to you, begging to be heard?" Short girl, tears in her eyes, shook her head and hugged her friend. The other girl simply murmured and placed her hand on the blonde's shoulder.
Shiro looked around to the abstract forms that followed him whenever he was away from his home. Away from the safety of his grandmother's wards. Strange. None of them seemed to have the slightest interest in the girl. He'd met another like him before. Once, a cousin had brought him to see a medium, and the forms had writhed and swirled in eagerness as he had approached her house.
At first, he had figured that the woman was going to be a quack, like so many that plied their "gifts" at carnivals and on television. Then, he'd been surprised that, when entering the house, the ever-present presences hadn't followed. The ebony woman who greeted him had refused to shake his hand in greeting. She had pointed to the crimson lines running below his eyes, marks that matched her own, and had said that he was the second conduit she'd met. Then she had politely told him to leave, as neither his gloves nor her home's barriers could hold against the draw of two of them in one place for long. She'd huffed and had taken a long drag from her cigarette before saying, "I learned that lesson well the first time."
Since the forms weren't reacting any differently than usual, Shiro figured that the girl was faking it and began to walk home. Three steps away he stopped, then reluctantly turned around to approach the teens. Maybe the girl could hear the words of spirits. What did he know after all? He'd never heard them speak but that didn't mean that they couldn't.
"Excuse me, miss? About those spirits...", he began, drawing the attention of the three. "This may sound weird but, I don't see any of them around you, so I'm wondering if maybe..." his question was abruptly cut off by the loud screeching of the blonde.
"What would you know about spirits you cynic!", she yelled, drawing the attention of others on the street. "You have NO idea how hard this is to live with!" She stalked forward, pointing her finger at his face. Her friends glared at Shiro, glasses girl telling him to, "Get lost, creep!"
He held up his hands placatingly, not liking the crowd that was beginning to form. "I just wanted to talk to you! I'm sorry I bothered you!" Shiro stepped back to leave but the angry girl followed, grabbing his arm before he could move out of her reach.
The shadowy forms around Shiro snaked out, flowing fast and surrounding the blonde girl, whose gaze darkened with fear before she collapsed on the ground.
Her friends cried out and ran forward, the crowd gasped but Shiro could only stand there. He watched as the thin crimson brand formed under the eyes of the unconscious girl, damning himself for getting involved.
Another freewrite, another bunch of quarters to the over five minute jar...