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The girl looked down, staring into the white gaps of space that served as eyes for her shadow. The black form stared up at her, face unmoving. Of course it was unmoving. It was a shadow. It followed her every movement, always by her side.
But today was stormy. Buckets of rain dropped onto the world below, drowning out smiles and laughter. Ground, once solid and supportive, was now soggy; squelching beneath the girl’s every step.
She would not let the weather get her down. It was one of the few days her shadow was not there to haunt her. She’d make the most of it. So she straightened her spine, fixed a smile on her face, and walked through the rain.
The girl headed to a small playground down the road from her apartment, huddled beneath an umbrella, unicorns dancing over its surface. She sat down on one of the swings, dangling her legs and laughing as her feet kicked up the rainwater. There was another girl on the playground, one with dark black hair and clothes like pitch.
This dark girl slowly worked her way towards the laughing child, so slowly that she didn’t notice. Not until it was too late.
“Hello,” the dark girl said, voice like velvet. The girl on the swing looked up, startled.
“Well hello!” the girl grinned. She studied the other, marveling at how she seemed to blur at the edges, and how, if she focused hard enough, she could see the outline of the slide through her. The girl’s hair fell like a veil over her face, hiding what was below from view.
“Would you mind terribly if I shared the swings with you?” the girl asked.
“Why, not at all,” the other girl giggled, mimicking her formal way of speaking.
“My name is Eve. What is yours?” the dark shadow of a girl asked.
“Evelyn. I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Where are you from?”
“Oh,” Eve sighed, turning her head. Her longs bangs that cloaked her features shifted just enough for Evelyn to catch sight of rippling black skin. “A place, not so far from here.”
“What’s it like?” Evelyn smiled, getting a faraway look on her face as she imagined a place suitable for a girl like Eve.
“Well,” Eve whispered. “It’s dark. And I can only leave when it’s raining. I never see the sun. I am bound to serve at another’s feet.” Evelyn winced.
“That sounds horrible! Come on! Lets have fun, while it’s raining!” she cried, jumping up from the swings. The girl led her new friend around the playscape, mindless of the mud that soon splattered all over her pink dress. Eve, after much probing, finally laughed as Evelyn fell off the monkey bars and into a puddle of mud. She got the disgusting goop clumped in her hair, but she didn’t mind. It was worth it, though her mother would kill her.
“Isn’t it funny, how you treat me so well in this form, but in any other, I am just a nothing, just a place mat for you to step on?” Eve snarled as the two girls lay underneath an awning, gasping for breath from their mad dash around the playground.
“What?” Evelyn blinked confusedly, sitting up.
“You know what I mean!” Eve screamed, jumping to her feet. Her bangs blew out of her face, exposing her true self.
White gaps of space served as eyes out of the twisting and writhing shadows that danced over her indiscernible features. Her teeth gleamed wickedly as she bared her long fangs. The lingering light in the park began to leach away, seeping into Eve’s body.
The girl suddenly dissolved, utter darkness engulfing Evelyn as she screamed. She flailed her limbs wildly, struggling to escape the dark. But no matter where she ran, the darkness was there, cradling her in its suffocating grip.
What felt like eons later, a sliver of light shone through the darkness, cutting Evelyn’s wild wailing short. The small girl edged forward, suddenly anxious.
What she saw froze her in her tracks.
It was herself, sitting at her dinner table, laughing with her family. And they didn’t notice anything off. The girl looked down at Evelyn, winking once before turning to continue her conversation.
Evelyn screamed and howled, slamming her fists against the walls of her new cage. But it was futile. No matter how loud she screamed, no one heard. Not at school. Not at home. Not among her best friends.
All she could do was wait. And she was always waiting, biding her time until the next rainy day.