Nothing set him apart from the crowd, except the fact that he did not want to stand out. Invisible. Not perceptible by vision. Standing in plain sight yet being ignored, undetected by the passers-by who grip their coffee and fill their plump cheeks with bagels. Tobias was invisible.
He had learnt the art when he was only nine and by the time he turned eleven, he had mastered it. It was difficult. Weaving in and out of crowds and squeezing into the cramped space of being there but not anywhere. Every night he would practice and practice until his temples throbbed with exhaustion and his bones ached, barking their displeasure under his tight skin.
Why? Why wish to be invisible? Why wish to blend in with the smudges of reality rather than shine on your own? The answer was simple. Tobias had a keen eye for things that were not his own. Things that did not belong to him. His callused skin and stubby fingers ached when he would not stretch them into pockets of businessmen and stuff them into tip jars in bakeries run by small women in oversized aprons.
A criminal. He was known as the city of Tokyo’s very own pick-pocketer. He was similar to the ones seen in movies. His clothes were all charcoal black, his hood hung over his forehead, and his movements were delicate like a butterfly brushing against the petals of a flower. But Tobias was better. He is the one the movies would fear. The one who was too quick that the camera’s latched onto buildings and store fronts could not detect him. He was a living blind spot.
Each night he would return to his father’s home, his pockets heavy. Watches hanging around his belt, necklaces tied to his arms, wallets stuffed into his shoes. Of course, he would present his father with a gentle smile- one that said, ‘goodnight father, I hope you are well.’ -before strolling into his bedroom.
Behind that large oak door was where his secrets lied, manifesting into something ugly and evil. The truth of how Tobias was affording his college funds and driving cars fit for a king. Because he was a king. A king of deceit. One that didn’t collect extra tips at his restaurant job for being extra polite or offering more sauces when needed.
He would sell everything he stole and leave no slithers of any remains to be swallowed up by any suspecting mouths. He would even sell the passports and IDs on the dark web to criminals and teenagers wanting to taste the drops of liquor before they had blossomed into adulthood.
And the next night… Again.
Tobias brought his hood over his ebony hair, his eyes shifting into slits of nothingness. As the busy workday finished and deformed clouds of darkness clung to the sky, his gaze would prowl on the floor. It was as if the sidewalk was an artwork, whispering it’s beauty’s and wishes to him, prohibiting him from looking away.
He wouldn’t look at his victims. Not even a glance. Because although Tobias had trained to become the best, he still had one mistake that no amount of sweat, and pain could fix. He had a heart. Once he would look into their eyes and see their life unfold in front of him, he couldn’t do it. Family photos he had found in lockets and slid between cases of phones he had despised, throwing them to the ground with a vile distaste on his tongue.
So, he slithered through the streets, entangling his limbs with unsuspecting victims, and ignoring the shadow of the truth that lingered over him with each one. It breathed what he couldn’t accept. I have a soul. I have a family to feed. I have bills to pay. No. No. No.
Nothing set him apart from the crowd. And it would remain that way. Signs warning people to beware of the monsters that stole because they could not afford or did not deserve them, these were the only traces that Tobias remained.
by Amie Walker
Amie Walker is an eighteen-year-old hull-born writer who is currently studying Creative Writing at Hull University. She enjoys writing short creative pieces as well as in-depth novels, and often her pieces display themes of dystopia and darkness. Through her writing, she aims to give a personality and character to an emotion and an often disapproved profession, such as the ‘He did not want to stand out’ piece. She is developing her skills in various ways, through beaching out to different styles and themes of writing, and hopes to continue her interests into a profession in the future.
Photo by Mike Chai