As a Matter of Being

Short Story

They are hidden there in the shadows of existence. Amelia knows where to find them. Her family never understood. Amelia knew no one could, or would. She was different. She saw them lurking behind each hidden shadow. She hid from them, just as they hid from everyone else.

There was one on the bench that day. It did not hide. So Amelia, with the same courtesy, did not as well. She stood across the muddy path. They stared at each other. This has never happened before. Amelia did not know what to do next. So she did what any stranger would.

“Hi,” the vocal sound barely escaped her lips.

“Hi,” it replied. No sound escaped its’.

“Are you not afraid?” Amelia asked. Clearly ignoring her own fear.

“Why? Are you?” It asked again in its’ soundless voice.

Amelia shook her head, “but if they find you…”

“Who?”

“The others. You must hide.”

“But then, if I hide, it’s as if I do not exist at all.”

Amelia considered the predicament for a moment.

“But I know you do,” she answered with certainty. “And if I do, then you do exist, right?”

“I’m afraid not. I would become a thought, an image, a memory. Something which was there but now it’s not. You will speculate my existence. Wonder if what you saw was real or a figment of your imagination. This has been the way for a thousand years.”

“But I know you exist. I do not need proof.” Her eyes began to water and her voice to quiver. The realisation of their mutual loneliness was breaking her.

“Oh, but I do.”

“Amelia! What are you doing? Don’t stay so far behind! We’re going to be late and it’s dangerous.”

Amelia took a deep breath and held in her tears. “Coming!”

The bench was empty. Her heart was heavy. “I know you do,” she said out loud before reaching for her mother’s hand.