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Sunflowers, Shadows, and She.
The sunflowers danced in the breeze, yellow and young. This field, embedded with rays of light, was always her favorite place to be. It was so serene, a snapshot into a perfect world. Each element was a perfect complement of another; the blue skies spotted with broad yellow petals, the leafy greens intertwined with gritty brown, the golden sun blushed with white clouds. A warm breeze would gently hug her as birds told her the secrets of the world. This field was covered in an atmosphere of majesty.
She was often found in this field, braiding flowers into the silken strands of her strawberry blonde hair, or digging deep beneath the dirt searching for worms. It was her escape; she’d lie in the field for hours dreaming her world away. No one else was ever found in the field, just the small girl.
Today had started no differently than the rest. She skipped home from school, tripping over her shoe laces. As always, she stopped at her field. She hid among the flowers, pretending she was lost in an enchanted forest. She was so absorbed in her game when she looked up and saw it, a shadow. “Hello?” her voice trembled, her eyes carefully watching the rustling through the flowers. She watched, scrutinizing each stalk, hoping for a clearer glimpse of the mystery. She never saw more than a vague silhouette.
For days and days the shadow stood and watched. Never close enough to see what it was, but always close to terrifying her. He was tall, far more than the flowers. His limbs were never-ending, they were too thin for his towering frame, they were just long and spidery. An insidious air surrounded him, masking the details of his shadow. His eyes were always following, no matter where she hid in the field.
“What do you want?” she’d shout. Never so much as a twitch echoed through his body. He just stood with those eyes.
She decided to leave the field, as much as she loved it—he scared her more. Even if it had always been her home, she wasn’t willing to stay with him lurking about so. Plucking a sunflower from the ground, she trudged away from the magic, unsure of when she’d be willing to return.
Weeks passed before she reluctantly found herself amongst the flowers again. Of course, he was there. He looked as if he hadn’t moved since she left. He maintained the same distance, and watched.
Maybe he’s a scarecrow, she mused, but those peering eyes had the darkness of life behind them. The birds were still there, but no longer singing to her—they were talking to him. She felt lonely now. “Some scarecrow,” she muttered, kicking at the some exposed roots.
I’ve had enough of this! she thought to herself. This shadow cannot come here and scare me out of my own world!
Crouching to the soil, her hands tore past dead leaves, wilted petals, tangly roots until her knuckles grazed a rough rock, leaving angry scrapes across her fingers. She cupped the rock in her hand; it was a perfect fit. She tossed it in the air a few times, getting a feel for its cracks and weaknesses. It was still solid enough to cause pain.
Her eyes narrowed in on the target, still as always. Taking a deep breath she puffed out her chest, evoking a fierceness deep inside her. She flung the rock as hard as she could into the air, pressing her eyes shut, afraid to watch the shadow’s sure violent reaction.
She stood with her eyes shut for a few moments, waiting for curses or shrieks of pain. There was nothing. Curiously, she lifted one eyelid to peek into the distance. The shadow remained unmoved, and the rock lay only a few feet ahead of her.
She sat on the ground, a small child buried beneath the sunflowers. Her shoes were untied; her socks were sliding down her skinny legs. Dirt and leaves were caked onto her dress and the ribbons in her hair were frayed by the tangles of thorns. She no longer smiled, her eyes no longer twinkled. Why should they, all the magic was drained from her world by the shadow. This was no longer the get-away for a warrior princess, or the hideout for a runaway bride; it was the shadow’s field. She was defeated.
The sun started to go down, she knew she should return home. Instead, she curled up and laid in the cool soil. She could see the shadow’s feet in the distance, but she didn’t let that bother her. She was cold, but had no desire to leave her field, because who knew what kind of shadowing horrors would be added here by the morning.
She watched as the stars danced above the sunflowers. The yellow looked even more beautiful in the moonlight against the blackened sky. The darkness veiled the shadow, it was his camouflage. She stood up from the dirt, dusting her knees off, retying the ribbons in her hair, and wiping the tears from her eyes. She liked the new light she saw her field in.
It was different, yes, but the change was revitalizing. Instead of birds, there was an orchestra of crickets. She soon found herself dancing in the moonlight to their beat. The sun no longer blushed with clouds, but the moon was embraced by the cosmic stars. It was beautiful, maybe even more so than before. The shadow wasn’t gone, but between the stars and the dark, she couldn’t see him or his terrible eyes.
“Maybe having you around won’t be so bad,” she laughed in his direction.
Her mind filled up with new ideas and games she could play in the renewed field. The crisp air made her feel alive, and nothing could change that. The sound of her laughter filled up the sky, and anyone listening closely could hear the shadow laughing along too.