He learned to hide in corners in the first grade, when Olive Jones laughed at his broken nose. Smashed by a soccer ball as he watched the older boys play, he initially thought it made him look tough. Olive's gap-toothed grin, however, slashed his confidence; his body faded into a dull gray. He huddled in a crevice near the art supplies, knees tucked to his chest, and despite the neon yellow bandage slapped across his face, people stopped looking his way.
He learned to appreciate the inconspicuous lifestyle when he realized that he inspired pity in women instead of fear. Who could fear a shadow? Women fear what lurks in the shadows, but not the shadows themselves.
When he desires to make himself known, he detaches his toes from the backs of others' ankles and steps into the light.
"What did you order?"
"I like coffee."
"You're more beautiful than this dancer I saw once on the strip. She had blue sparkles just like the ones in your eyes."
"You're more beautiful than Olive Jones."
"Can I sit with you?"
Sometimes they let him, when they recognize he's lonely. Sometimes they make an excuse, but it's okay. He learned to deal with rejection the day he realized that, whether you turn the lights on or off, shadows are inevitable.
Sorry again for the lack of posting; the transition to writing PTKY stories has been a bit rough because I've been spending lots of time getting used to my new life here. Things are going really well so far, though. Taught my first class today. I promise that the posts will be more regular in the future. PTKY isn't going anywhere. It's the little fiction blog that could.