I am a shadow

May 31, 2008
By Kaitlyn May, Saint Louis, MO

I am a shadow. I follow in your footsteps and my body changes with the angle of the sun. My shape is yours, a mutated version of you. You hide away from me because I am the proof you exist. I am your reminder that you are no longer a ghost on Earth. You have a body and you are a being and I am your echo. I pull off the ground into a symmetric image of you when the sun is above your warmed head and when the sun is low to the ground, I am your bent carnival mirror. A midget, or a giant, an anorexic, or a binge eater.

You glare at my being with distaste. You always hated yourself and you always hated carnivals. Clowns scared you. You scared yourself. You were never the perfect image of who you wanted to be. That’s why you turned translucent. You needed to take a break from earth. Turn towards the world where everyone else was dead. No one could judge you there. Then the world started turning translucent too. Everything was layered, everything had another meaning. There was always something behind another. Everything in your eyes shifted and you were lost. But you could see the different layers in a person. You could see the good and the bad and the dead and the alive. You could see yourself and the different layers inside of you. The bad was there, but so was the good. So you went back.

You wanted to live a solid being life. And so you did. You went back to your regular life and your regular hate shined on your regular skin. You couldn’t see the layers in yourself anymore. There was just one and it was covering you, smothering you, and you couldn’t hold on to your solid self any longer. You couldn’t fade again, so you hid. You hid behind the thick walls of your existence and whimpered inside of your solid head. But you couldn’t hide forever. You were turning stick thin and your hair was dry and your skin the color of your bones. You were trying to fade into nothing, but you couldn’t. You needed food but had none and you couldn’t bare to travel outside, to where the sun shined on you and everyone could see what you were. So you cradled yourself and waited to dissolve, for your bones to deteriate, for your skin to shrivel but you weren’t the only person in the world, no matter how much you wanted to believe you were.

You mother came to your house, the place where you hide. She scooped you up in her arms easily. You were so skinny. She pulled you out of your door, into the sunlight, where the sun automatically stuck to our albino appearance and your eyes shut automatically. Besides the sun hurting them, you also knew that you couldn’t let yourself see the outside world. Then you would know that everything had kept going on without you. But your mother set you down on the cracked sidewalk. She told you to open your eyes. You didn’t. She squeezed your bony hand and stroked your face, and then she walked away. You were alone. You were alone, with your eyes closed, the whole world before you, with nowhere to go. So you opened your eyes. Just a little at first. You stumbled over your own feet and you slid on the wet grass. And then you looked down at the ground. That’s when you saw me. The sun was just setting, and I was tall, spreading over a large expanse, and thin as a pole on the wet grass. You cowered. You fell to the grass and cupped your hands over your shudder blades. You rocked and moaned and I saw it all. I mimicked you. I sat with you through everything. We were both drained of color, sitting there with nothing but memories and we cried out for nothing.

You mother walked back over she sat down next to us. She reached for you and you pushed her away. You pushed away the hands the held you and the breasts that fed you. You pushed away the heart that loved you and the eyes that watched you. But she was persistent. She reached out and grabbed your frizzed strings of hair in her cotton soft hands and she hummed silently in your head. You smiled at her. I smiled too.

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