Short Story: Welts

Somewhere-

-a child looks out and sees his town. It’s large, but it’s small. People walk to and fro, but they are as invisible to him as he is to them. There are walls everywhere, and he peeks over them now and again. He dreams of climbing over them, but for now, the task is too great. There are too many others that seek to do the same. Some wear cloaks to prove that they are as dark as they can be, and others wear the whitest that they can in order to show just the opposite. The child is lost between both. He looks to his white cloak, then to his black. When he looks at his arms and sees the welts, he knows why he must wear a cloak, but he doesn’t want to. And he wonders if anybody really wants to.

The child becomes a teenager. The harder he works, the harder it is to see his welts. He learns new tricks to hiding them at every turn.

But there are some that he does not work hard enough to hide.

His mother discovers him on the computer speaking to another boy. Their “chatspeak” is hardly platonic.

The streets become his home.

Something-

-about his smile lures in every man and woman, even those unwanted. For every one that he rejects, there is a ricochet, and another welt rises upon his flesh. In his white cloak, he is not as invisible as he once was. The eyes on him burn, but he needs their warmth.

There is one pair of eyes that glow in the dark. It belongs to one in a dark cloak.

Someone-

-fights through the smoke and mirrors of his cloak to see him. It is the one with the glowing eyes. They raise their sleeves to one another. The boy with the glowing eyes has bright welts, unlike his own, which are dark. Their shapes are similar, but the colors completely contrast. Two sides of the same coin.

Many of their welts still hide beneath their cloaks, but they lift the cloth from their arms, legs, and backs and let each other touch and understand each one. One morning, they wake to one another’s faces and realize that they can’t even notice the welts at all. What they see is pure. They are untouchable to all but one another.

Sometime-

-after they bare themselves to one another, it’s as if all that can be seen are their welts. Their own welts scream out to the boys and tear away at one another. The wounds push harder and harder until the boys can no longer see each other. The boy in the bright cloak is covered in his garb once more, and the boy that he knew has disappeared into the darkness.

He is frozen in the light. He can not chase. If he chases, the welts will scream once again.

The cloak pulls tighter and tighter around him until it snaps at the seams. Blotches of dark welts peer through the tears in his shining mask. He scrambles to cover them up, but the cloak only tears more. He tries to scratch away the welts, but they rip, bleed, and stretch. He cries out for aid, but there is none to be found. Others seek to share their medicines, but theirs do not cure his ailments.

The welts never remain the same. As he grows, they change position and shape. Time passes, and he concocts newer and stronger medicines of his own. The struggle never ends. There are always welts. But now he knows.

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