Sunday, August 07, 2005


Plaid Shirt was fifty paces ahead of Miranda, walking lazily with long strides. He was tapping his pack of cigarettes against the butt of his hand. He ripped off the packaging and threw it into an alley as he passed. Miranda shook her head in disappointment. Without warning Plaid Shirt stopped and began to turn. Caught off guard and suddenly ashamed for stalking this man, Miranda conspicuously turned and inspected the stoop of the building next to her. Miranda's indiscreet action caught the eye of Plaid Shirt, and he inspected her for a few seconds before lifting a lighter to the cigarette dangling out of his mouth, shielding the flame from the breeze. His gaze stayed on Miranda for a few more seconds as he took the first drag off his cigarette and exhaled a cloud of smoke. He turned back and continued on his way. Miranda sighed and shook her head again. What am I doing? she thought. Nevertheless, she continued her pursuit.

Over the next block, Miranda slowly closed the gap, all the time trying to come up with a rational reason for following this guy. She kept thinking about what Alex had told her about their kind of people and the energy that bound them all together. It had sounded a little crazy to her then, but it she thought that it might be starting to make sense. Miranda was so close behind the man in the plaid shirt now that she could smell his cigarette smoke.

Plaid Shirt flicked his cigarette butt into the street and gave a sly look over his shoulder. As he expected, Miranda was still following him, only closer than expected. Miranda noticed his backward glance and thought, I'd better come up with something to say before he gets anxious about be following him. But what do you say to in a situation like this? 'Hey, I know you've got powers; I saw you use them on people. That's pretty cool.'

Miranda blinked and he was gone. She stopped. Her eyes were wide in disbelief. The man in the plaid shirt, who had been not more than five feet in front of her, had vanished. Miranda looked around to see if she had just missed him duck into a doorway or cross the street. But that's impossible, she thought, I was staring at his back one second, and the next second he just wasn't there. What's going on?

A voice from behind her spoke, “Quit following me.” Miranda spun around but no one was there except for an elderly man twenty feet away, inching his way up the sidewalk.

Miranda knew the voice belonged to the man in the plaid shirt. She wanted to see him, to talk to him. She wanted to tell him that she knew had a secret, that she did, too, and that he shouldn't be ashamed of it or scared of other people. She wanted to tell him something reassuring and eloquent. All she managed to squeeze out was a frightened “Hello?”

“Quit following me,” repeated the disembodied voice, a little more stern this time, and from the other direction. Miranda spun again. There was no one near her.

“I . . . I . . . saw what you did,” stuttered Miranda. There was no response. “Hello?” Still nothing. Miranda stood for a while listening while people walked by. Miranda sighed. I messed this one up. I should have just said something. “Sorry I creeped you out,” she said mostly to herself. She turned to walk back. Where was I even going before all this? she wondered.

“What do you want?” asked the man in the plaid shirt, suddenly standng next to Miranda. His face was serious, and his eyes were fixed on hers.

She yelped, stumbled sideways, and fell on her backside. “Holy shit! You scared me.” Even this reaction was somehow fairly nonchalant, given the circumstances.

A charmingly devilish grin spread across Plaid Shirt's face at Miranda's startled but calm composure, then it disappeared as quickly as he had. He returned to wearing a scowl. “No one will believe you if you told them. I didn't rob him anyway,” he stated.

“What?” Miranda tried to calm her fluttering heart.

“I didn't rob that guy in the store, he gave me the money. I didn't use a gun or even threaten him.”

“I didn't mean that.” Miranda looked up. “Can you help me up?” she asked, still shaken by the disappearing/reappearing act.

Plaid Shirt cautiously offered his hand to Miranda. She grabbed it, and he began to hoist her up. She weighed a lot more than he had expected. She held on to his hand even after she was up and the began to shake it, “My name's Miranda, by the way.”

“My name's, uh, Thomas,” he said suddenly looking much less angry and much more nervous. Thomas couldn't tell whether this girl was a threat or not. Her politeness and amazingly relative calm about his invisibilty stunt made him want ot lower his defences. But doubtful thoughts entered his mind, Why was she folling me? What does she want? He looked at her face and suddenly realized how pretty she was. His eyes couldn't hold her gaze, and he looked down at her shoes. She has cute shoes. Miranda smiled in her eyes and let go of his hand.

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