[This and the rest of the forthcoming “Creatures in Your Neighborhood” entries are bits of writing practice, done when the old work schedule got too hectic to make working on longer stories — you know, stories with a capital “S” — a practical idea. -SJ]
I first saw a Sad Spot in the second grade. I can’t tell you the exact date, but it was winter, and it was morning, and I had had to set my book down and take off my glasses, because I couldn’t see anything at the moment anyway.
It wasn’t fair, what they had done to the wizarding hero’s pet raven. Suddenly she was gone, as quickly as if someone had ripped a page, except they might as well have ripped every page in the story, right on the lines where I would have read the raven’s name.
I had been trying to rub the bitter sting out of my eyes when I heard a tiny, papery, whispery sound. Imagine a moth clearing its throat. I looked over, and on my bed, next to my book, was an old man the size of my pinky, wearing a brown robe small enough that, if one of my dolls had been wearing it, would’ve covered less than one of the swimsuit outfits for my figures that I’d seen in the toy aisle.
The old man held a shadow in his left hand. I do not know how. The shadow was in the shape of a bird, and he pinched it by the tip of its wing and smoothed it flat onto a blank page in a book of his own. He closed the book, which had the word HEART on its cracked red cover, tucked it beneath his arm, and smiled at me before turning away.
He walked away across the right lens of my glasses. I did not see him after I put my glasses back on, but I saw the Sad Spot’s footprints. I still see them today, if I let myself. It turns out that, unlike other marks, a Sad Spot’s footprints are not so easy to wipe away.