Cast No Shadow
Ellen sat on a park bench, basking in the warm sunlight. She preferred first dates to be in sunlight. It was easier to see a man’s shadow that way and know right away whether she wanted any more to do with him. She smirked, watching a strait-laced looking suit walk by. His shadow crawled on a leash beside him, wearing high heels. Damn I need to get laid. Everyone’s shadow is casting sex.
She was holding a red carnation, and he was supposed to be wearing a blue shirt. Too vague really, but his picture online was a reasonably clear shot. A big teddy-bear of a guy, brown bearded with kind blue eyes. He might not be her physical type, but she needed someone normal enough to fuck, at least once, or she’d lose all ability to function.
Oh God. That’s got to be him, she thought. He cast a shadow of a petite woman, with anime boobs and ass, pointed ears and a big fluffy fox tail. Her cheeks burned as he approached with an aw-shucks smile and held out his hand. She limp fingered a hello and tried to focus on small talk, anything but looking down.
She looked past her temporary companion. There was a coffee stall set-up, the patrons all casting their sexual secrets for Ellen’s eyes in the bright sunlight. Damsel fantasy, feather whips, macho-man… Except, one wasn’t. Her heart rate sped. The man was short, maybe only a little taller than her, but other than his lack of shadow, he looked normal. Business casual. Buying a latte. Walking away. Why? Why can’t I see his secrets?
She came back every day for a week, but the skies conspired against her and with the sun covered by clouds, no one cast enough shadow. Had he had light brown hair like that guy, or was it more auburn like that one? Maybe he had only come to get coffee here once, walking on his way to somewhere else. Maybe I’ll never see him again.
The eighth day, it rained. Ellen shivered on the bench. This is stupid. This is ridiculous. I need to let this go.
The next day, she was back. The sun played tag with clouds, but she saw him. Like a fairytale, a perfect sunbeam came down to illuminate a man with dark brown hair, speckled with silver, and his perfect lack of shadow. Ellen rose from her bench and followed him to an insurance office three blocks from the park.
She crossed the street after he went in. He was chatting with the receptionist. Then he walked deeper inside where Ellen couldn’t see. Steadfast Insurance. They’ll have a website.
Eric Granger. 48 years old. Lives alone, not even a pet. An insurance agent for his entire working life. No convictions, not even parking ticket. The internet is an amazing tool.
Ellen parked her car across the street from Eric’s house. I should just knock. I should just knock and introduce myself. Or go to his office and pretend to want to buy insurance. She shook her head. There was too much to explain, too much she couldn’t say.
Her grandmother had told her, “What you will see is real, and what’s real is true, but prove it or not, they’ll hang you for a witch either way.”
Commitment to an asylum was probably more likely nowadays, but fuck that. Gran had never said anything about people without shadows. What if he’s dangerous? Or in danger? Maybe he’s sick, dying and just doesn’t have any sexual fantasies for me to see. But everyone has secrets. Everyone has fantasies.
I’ll just go knock. Just as soon as he comes home. And I’ll ask him what? This is so stupid.
The garage door of his house started to crank up. Ellen shut her car off and opened the door. She shut it again. Opened. Shut. She rubbed her hands together, but they wouldn’t warm. What do I even say to him? ‘Hi, I’m Ellen, and I was wondering why my magical abilities don’t work on you?’ Right.
His car slid inside, and the garage rumbled shut. I should just go. I should forget about this.
Her passenger side door opened and Eric slid in. Ellen froze, then shook as he pointed a gun at her.
“Why have you been following me?”
“I wanted to know something, but I don’t think I, um, really want to anymore, so I’ll just, could you please get out and I’ll just leave?”
“Are you a cop? Did you call the cops?”
“No. No, nothing like that.”
“What did you want to know?” He cocked the gun, and Ellen felt wet warmth spread on her seat.
“I can’t see your shadow and I wanted to know why.”
“Bullshit. Tell me the truth, bitch.”
“Oh God, I swear, that’s it, I’m just crazy, I’m a total wacko and I’m just hallucinating right now, so you can just go and I’ll never even remember this happened, please, just let me go.”
He chuckled and caressed the gun barrel along her neck. “I’ve never had one just come to me before. Usually I have to go shopping.”
He pulled out a syringe and popped the cap off. The needle bit her neck and she slipped away.