November 24, 2014: Manhattan’s Will O The Wisp

I’ve heard of more and more sightings of the girl in the mask in the past week than I have since I moved here.
She’s an urban legend for hipsters, Greenwich Villagers, and most of the people in lower Manhattan.
She rides her bike, singing a sweet song, glowing, and people follow her. Those people have all been reported missing.

She’s like an urban will-o-the the wisp.

I sat in Union Square in the rain, cradling a cup of street coffee in my hand, waiting for her to show up.

I heard the singing first. A sweet melody riding through the rain drops.
She rode around me, glowing slightly in the morning, a nice contrast to the grey sky.
She wore a mask – plain white with cat ears and a painted on smile.

She leaned her bike gently on the ground and sat next to me.

Most people follow me, you know? They can’t help it. It’s my singing. I sing and they follow and I lead them away to a better place.

She took her mask off. Her face was painted with what looked like neon war paint, but she was beautiful. She crossed her legs at her fake-fur boots and took the cup of coffee out of my hand.

I don’t mean to…you know? It is funny, though. Only certain types of people believe in me, or can even see me. Like, they have to belong, or identify, as a certain social culture in order for me to have any sway over them.

She gave the coffee back, a purple lipstick smudge on the rim.
People started to gather around us, early morning commuters and dog walkers.

She suggested we take a walk, easier to talk in private.
We walked towards downtown, she pushed her bike, a line of people following us.

I don’t know where they go when they disappear. I’m not a pooka, I don’t lead them to water and drown them or anything. I just ride and sing, they follow and disappear. I don’t even want them around me. I prefer just to ride around by myself.

Her mask was pushed up into her short hair. There was a sadness behind her eyes. She carried a great burden, almost like a curse thrust upon her.

I started wearing the mask, hoping it wouldn’t attract people. Keep them away. I just want privacy.

She brushed rain off of her faux-fur vest and pulled the mask down.

Is it so much to ask for? Privacy?

She pushed off on her bike and rode down Broadway. Glowing in the rain with a trail of followers.
I took my earphones out and turned on my music. Even blocks away, with music pumping in my ears, I could feel the tug in my heart to follow her.

I watched as they paraded after her, wondering where they would end up when they got to the end.

I pulled my hat down and walked into the subway.

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