Shadow

December 11, 2009
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I inhaled the clean air, slowly, peacefully, as I have learned to do many years before. I stared with admiration at the white swan in the pond. Its body, majestically drifting with the flow of the water; Its shadow, reflected on the clear water. I turned back to examine my own shadow, long and tall, dark as the night sky. However, it was not the physical features that captured my attention, it was the peculiar feeling of the shadow, how it seemed to wonder at its own ability, how it was never satisfied.


As I finished my routine, I walked back to my cottage. The cottage, completely made of wood, had a low, stooped ceiling, and only a bed inside. As I entered the humble sanctuary, I tried to recall why I had bought this house, when I had the ability for so much more.


***


I was considered stupid in school. I called out when unnecessary; spoke with a loud screech that pierced the ears of anyone within five feet. However, I was smart, but, I didn’t want anyone to know it. I wanted to be considered a nuisance.
My mom did not know of my hidden life at school. My report card was lined with (A)s
and filled with comments of “my inability to keep quiet”. My mom took this as a good sign, and believed it was because of my immense participation in class. Because of this, my mom never went to any of the parent-teacher conferences, and therefore, did not discover the bullying directed to me.


You would not believe how hated I had been. Every day, numerous bullies crowded around me, not physically hurting me, but emotionally calling me names. They called me chatterbox, broken instrument, deformed diaphragm; but, there was one day where a daily gathering of bullies changed my view on life forever.


***


I was admiring my shadow while waited for the inevitable bullies that would come during lunch. It seemed as if my shadow was the only one that appreciated me for who I was, for who I was glad to be. My shadow was my imaginary friend; I was glad when it was long and tall, sad when it became short. On the other hand, it was almost never short, and so I was nearly always happy.


A red-headed, freckled, American boy came towards me as the bell rang. I sat and waited patiently for the vile things that would come from his mouth. I learned not to care about opinions, whether it came from a bully or a teacher. More boys came from the corridors blocking my way to escape, and surrounding the lockers. The red-head started to speak, as if he was planning to say this for days, thinking about what would hurt me the most. He called me ugly, typically. But, instead of hesitating at my smirk at the comment, he continued. He said that I should put a mirror in front of my face every time I looked, every time I stared. He said it would make the world a better place, if I had moved away altogether. And as I smirked at this after he finished, he smirked back, as if he knew this would cause much pain in the future.


***


I sat on the bed of my cottage, thinking about the memories of my past. At that moment, a man stumbled into my household, panting and gasping for air. He murmured one word, food, and fainted on my lap. For the first few seconds I was paralyzed with shock. I imagined the man to be clinging onto a cliff, grabbing life with a finger, while fighting death itself. I drank in his pain with fear and anxiety, wondering what to do next. I finally laid him on the bed, pulled the blanket over his body, and started collecting the limited food supply that I had. I took a bucket of water from the pond and poured it on his face, hoping that he would regain consciousness. And at that moment, I saw a vivid image in my head, the man struggling and finally climbing back on top of the cliff, death sucked back into the ground. And then, I saw a princess, one who embraced the man as her long lost lover, cheerful with both love and happiness. But, the man, mad with rage, pushed the princess to the ground, whom rolled off the cliff and fell, death laughing at the side.


The man regained consciousness, and I questioned him, asking him how he got here and how he survived. However, he was abnormally quiet, not speaking until he was comfortable around me.
This intrigued me, how a man could stay this silent, when I was usually so loud. But, as he grew accustomed to me, I discovered I had a deep connection with him, so many similarities it was as if we were one body, as if he was the other half of me, as if he were my shadow. And it was this that eventually caused us to get married and bore a baby three years later.


***


My husband lived in the city, in which I moved to have more time with him. However, the day I packed all my belongings, which was not much, he left for an unexpected business trip. I was not contented with the city. I lived in anxiety with fear that I would do something inappropriate in the commotion of urban cities. And I felt like I wasn’t the same person, I was changed somehow, my shadow finally satisfied. But, I wanted my husband to be happy, so I never complained about my uncomfortableness.


***


A month later, I received a mail. I was suspicious at first, because I had no friends, but soon realized it was from my husband. I was so happy that he had written back; to show that he truly loved me. But, the contents of the mail told me on how he had left me for a woman in Sweden, how he was sorry that this was the way it had to be. And I was devastated, hurt, my heart broken into two. I cried for many nights, letting my sadness pour out in the form of liquid, until there was nothing to spill. When the crying finally stopped, I decided to go back to my cottage. However, after searching many days, I couldn’t find it. It was as if my previous household had denied me, it couldn’t recognize me. So I was forced to stay in my apartment in the city, and so I never ran out of tears to stop crying, and so I lost my soul.


I walk outside, speechless, trying to find the limited nature in the urban area. I see a frozen pond, and next to it, I see a dead tree. And on the dead tree, I see a black crow, its shadow long and tall, shimmering in the almost dark night. I turn back, examining my own shadow, short and stumpy, gradually getting shorter. The crow lets out a screech, and starts to fly towards the moon, working hard to achieve the best. The crow stares back at me, as it, too, is wondering why I was looking through a mirror all those times, three years ago. And the crow stares back, and I know it is, too, watching my shadow disappear.





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