The Hopeful Wanderer – Lent Shape

On the outskirts of a forgotten town, I found a person with a white sheet draped over them.

The sheet covered their entire body. They stood in front of a burnt out building on the side of a gravel drive. Just stood there. All day. No one else came or went. And I sat on a stone wall on the other side of the drive, watching. Waiting to see what they would do.

But in the end, as twilight began to creep up from the horizon, I gave in first.

Gravel crunched beneath my shoes, echoing loud off the nearby building. I approached the seeming specter at an angle, going slow, as if to avoid startling a wild creature. The enshrouded person did not move away.

“Hey,” I said. “What are you doing out here? Are you okay?”

As if to face me, the head turned, tracking me. They made no reply.

I crouched down in front of the person. Even this close, they smelled like nothing more than laundry detergent. “I won’t hurt you,” I said. “I’m just going to check.” Hand shaking, I took the rough hem of the sheet and lifted, peering beneath to see the person’s face.

No one was inside.

Within the human-shaped space underneath, reddish evening sunlight filtered through the cloth on the other side of where the head should have been.

I dropped the hem and backed away, breathing hard.

A muffled voice said, “No one sees me without this on. You were watching, so I stayed.”

Then the sheet made all the motions of someone opening it up. Invisible arms pushed the cloth off and it fell into a heap at my feet.

“Where…” I turned all the way around, but I was alone with the pile of cloth, “…did you go?”

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