Flash Fiction: Kynbessne’s Shadow (476 words)

Kynbessne had left so many things behind: A whole house with its stone face and artful fence, canopy bed and pony in the stable yard. Then jewelry traded in for more precious things like bread and roofs. The shoes that had never been much good for walking, and clothes that she outgrew and couldn’t afford. Finally, the things that she’d never believed she could sell: a necklace she’d always worn like silver skin, a book her father had loved and scrawled in, a scarf of her mother’s that had seemed to warm her more than the fabric suggested.

All of them traded in and stacked up as coins in her pocket that Kynbessne also left behind in an uneven trail of crumbs. She could never pick them up again, and if she followed them back, they wouldn’t take her home. That was the first thing she’d lost, without even realizing her last moment inside it.

Once, when she walked down a city street, people looked at her out of the corner of their eye, always aware of her. She’d thought there must have been some shine coming off her, something rare in her smile, or some rich gleam in the way the sun lit her hair. It was the only explanation for the sudden smiles she got when they looked directly at her, or for the way some of them looked down quick as they could, or for the way an entire crowd would break open and run to either side around her to let her continue on her stately straight line.

It turned out to be some shine coming of her fine clothes, and polished buttons, and purse.

That first time she’d been jostled in a street had felt like running into a rock just under the surface of a river. The surprise of it hurt more than the force.

That was a long time ago, too and she’d learned to walk with her elbows tucked close to her sides. She kept her steps short, less for the elegance, than for the ability to stop and turn and move aside at a second’s notice. People looked at her and looked away like she was just part of the cityscape, a necessary body needed to created the crowd.

Except sometimes they looked at her a second time, after their eyes slid past her and caught her shadow. They looked at her a second time, and looked down quick as they could. Her straight back, gentle step, sweeping skirts – even the shine sifting down in the waves of her hair – were easiest to see in the black and white line of her on the ground.

It was another thing she was leaving behind, except it seemed to breathe on its own, catch a few of the things she was throwing away and stay close on her heels.

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