“It’s my shadow, you see?”
The Seamstress took a long look at Jasper, and then at the troubling shadow behind him, vaguely Jasper-shaped and decidedly not cast by any visible light source. Indeed, the early sun still hung in the east, and Jasper’s shadow was pointing toward it.
“It doesn’t matter which way I turn, if I’m indoors or out,” said Jasper. “It always points in the same direction.”
She watched as the shadow danced behind him. It seemed to beckon, to taunt. Except that it had no face, she could almost swear it was leering at her the more she stared.
“You’ve come to the right place,” she said.
“So you can remove it?”
“If that’s what you wish, yes.” And she could. For while the Seamstress could make daily coin hemming pants and mending dresses, her real talent lay in binding and unbinding, weaving and unweaving things from Beyond into the here and now, the sort of work that earned her the capital “S.”
“Please,” said Jasper.
The Seamstress held up her hand.
“Before you decide for certain,” she said, “consider how lucky you are.”
“Lucky? It taunts me day and night, tries to entice me to walk down dark alleyways. My parents won’t let me sleep in the house anymore. It frightened away the cooper’s daughter when I stopped to talk with her.”
“It can be frightening, yes. But only if you give it attention. This thing is not some evil spirit from elsewhere. It is part of you, your capacity to do evil and harm. Of course it scares you. Who wants to see that part of themselves?”
“And you call this lucky?”
“Very few people get such a clear glimpse of what they’re capable of. Keep it with you, move in the opposite direction it beckons, and you may live a virtuous life.”
Jasper considered this, glancing at the shadow out of the corner of his eye.
“Or,” said the Seamstress, “I can remove it and you can use your own best judgement like the rest of us.”
It was quiet for a moment, and then Jasper nodded.
“I’ll keep it.”
“A good choice.”
Jasper held a coin out towards her.
“For your good advice,” he said as she tried to wave him off.
The Seamstress pocketed the coin as she watched Jasper walk the road back toward the village.
He was already out of earshot by the time she saw the other shadows join the first.