Not all days are the same … some are brighter some less … and that seems to make a big difference in how one feels.
Maryanne walked down the trail leading to the railway tracks just out back of town. The path ran past the paper mill, now long abandoned. The train still passed through town from time to time, but the tracks she would soon be crossing were now abandoned. The wooden ties choked with weeds had long splinters sticking out like ancient miniature spears from the decayed wood. They ran into the factory itself … then she supposed they had got caught inside never to be able to get out again.
Maryanne was a loner. She rarely went on her hikes with anyone except her shadow. She whistled, Me and My Shadow as she walked down the trail and crossed the old tracks then turned towards the woods she’d yet to explore a little further on. She liked the idea that her shadow was alive; ‘like Peter Pan’s shadow’ she thought. She enjoyed watching it grow and shrink and wondered where it went when the light was gone. She felt pretty certain that her shadow was an inhabitant of another dimension.
“Hey Shadow, where do you go when the lights go out?”
Her shadow didn’t answer … it just grew longer and longer growing towards the woods as she got nearer to her destination. She knew she’d lose her shadow for a little while once she began walking in the gloom of the trees.
“Hey Shadow, why’re you stretching out towards the path … want to play hide and seek? Guess we will in a few minutes anyway!”
She topped a small hill and then ran precipitously towards the woods.
Once there, she entered the woods and she was really alone. Or so she thought. Shadows seemed to be everywhere … lots and lots of shadows. She thought it strange that there should be so many shadows but not her own. And these shadows didn’t feel like they were friendly shadows at all. An unease crept over her and she felt a chill. The shadows seemed to come closer and closer.
Suddenly she stepped into a small clearing and the sun projected her shadow. She looked curiously at it, there was something wrong … her shadow seemed to have a sword!
“Get back you gormless fiends! You are attacking my friend whom I will protect to the end!” said a reedy willowy voice. Her shadow swished its sword back and forth.
She heard a crashing sound coming from the woods and soon into the clearing ran her school mate, Michael carrying a sword. He was one of the odd boys out … a nerd they called him. He was always talking about dwarfs, dragons, magic and elves. Most of the kids just ignored him, but sometimes she’d sit with him at lunch and listen to his stories, which she found really interesting.
“Whatever are you doing here Maryanne? Don’t you know these woods are haunted by the lost shadows?” he exclaimed.
“Uh, lost shadows? I didn’t know shadows could get lost!” she said as she caught sight of her own shadow, now sword-less. “How come you’re here anyway?”
“I heard you yelling. This is where the shadows go when their humans abandon the earth. You do know that shadows are alive, right?”
Looking at her own shadow once again she nodded. “Yes, I think I’ve always known that shadows have a life of their own .. I learnt that from Peter Pan…”
Taking her hand, sword raised, Michael led her out of the woods. As soon as they found the sun again both their shadows stretched far from the evening light, they were so close they seemed to be holding hands her head on his shoulder … though the two had separated as soon as they’d left the woods.
© G.s.k. ‘15