Shadow child •
Most of my life I spent alone, at least that’s how they saw me.
Most of the time I was with my shadow, sitting uncomfortably on the brick wall, kicking my legs around and hearing the shadow wisdom I so desperately craved.
I braved many moonlit adventures, guarded by my shadow friend as I marched onward through thick, lush forests of pine.
The velvet of my shadow would envelop me in a soft, safe, harmony.
Sometimes it would scare me, not the shadow, the thought of turning around and realising I truly was alone.
I was different from them, I knew I had company where it could not be seen with other eyes. I knew that it mattered, I had to go outside and explore, risk it all with my shadow.
We did a lot together, we built sandcastles, sailed boats down the stream, skipped stones, collected leaves. I even built us a fort.
The fort wasn’t very good.
Though I was determined to do everything I couldn’t do before. I had to let my shadow, the other half of me, see the world and play because he couldn’t before. I knew I was not alone, he had my eyes, my heart, my hand to take, he spent every moment with me, even when I had the bad days.
The weather got warmer again.
We finally looked, in March.
We headed into the woods and followed the trail, like we did two years earlier. We climbed over that fence we weren’t supposed to climb, when our parents had warned us not to venture out too far.
My shadow doesn’t get hurt, he is safe, that’s why I am safe. Your allergies stirred up the danger that we weren’t aware of. In March we wandered out, I let you. It had been a good six months.
A good six months evaporated,
all because you touched a plant.
I told you to wear gloves,
We saw the picture of you, the teddy bears, the drawing I made for you, the note I made with mum and dad.
I didn’t want to know it again, that I had lost you. I wanted the shadow of you to stay, keep playing with me, keep telling me what it might be like where you are now.
I wanted to hold its hand again, your hand. I wanted everyone else to stop looking at me like I was alone. I did everything, we did.
The overwhelming rush of fear encapsulated me. If I turn you’ll be gone, my shadow will be gone.
I feel the earth around your shrine, it sinks into my palms.
I take a breath.