Saturday, 28 January 2017

Remember Your Shadow. It Has A Terrible Life.

28. Shadow: Imagine you are someone’s shadow for a day.

I am writing this while tired in an evening.  This morning I began work on a new writing project that may or may not lead somewhere.  In theory it could become a novel.  Or more even than a novel.  For now there is a 3,200 word quickly written story that takes me through the synopsis of a plot written in a few minutes a couple of days ago.

At this point I'm excited by the project.  It's something to work on, play with, develop massively, and to enjoy as and when I feel inspired to continue it.  I think it's got scope to become something good.  Of course, for that to happen I will have to commit a lot of time and work to it.  I think it's worth doing even if the results never see the light of day.  The writing would be a big learning experience even if it doesn't ever become a big reading experience for others.

For tonight though there is this.  Something completely free written.  Seriously.  I just typed the first sentence and ran with it for a while.  The shadow photo was taken yesterday morning above the rocks at North Blyth, Northumberland.

It's not easy being a shadow.  You think you have it bad.  Your feet ache after a long day.  Ah, diddums.  Hard cheese.  Just think about me for a change.  With every step you take you are stamping on my feet.  My feet are flat enough as it is without you stamping on them all the time.  Do you care?  Of course you don't.  You don't stop to think about me.  Oi, you.  This is your shadow speaking.  Stop treating me so badly.

You don't even care to wonder how I feel when you step out of the sun into the shade.  "It's so hot," you say.  "I can't deal with this heat."  Well I've got no sympathy I can tell you.  Never stop to think about what happens to me when you hide your big puffy physical bodies away from that big flaming physical body in space.  It's excruciating.  I have to hide.  Turn invisible.  Pretend to be a chameleon and just blend in with whatever you're standing on at the time.  It's bloody hard work I can tell you.  If you only knew.  If only.  Well then you wouldn't be in such a rush to run away from the sunshine would you?  You'd put up with the discomfort.  Hey, a bit of sweat is nothing compared to what I have to go through.

It's okay at night.  Sleep in the dark.  That's good.  I can rest then.  I don't have to create this mask of invisibility when you're asleep.  I can stretch out and relax.  Have a snooze myself.  And sometimes I'll make patterns on the walls just for the fun of it.  People are so stupid.  You wake up in the night and see a moving shadow on the wall and think there's a ghost or a monster in the room.  Don't be daft.  It's only me.  Your own shadow and I'm not very likely going to hurt you am I?  I might get annoyed with you.  I might think more than half of what you get up to is stupid.  But I depend on you for life don't I?  It's not a great life but it's all I've got.

Not great.  Hah.  Understatement of the decade.  It's an awful life.  I challenge you to live it.  Just for a week.  We could swap places.  I could be you and you could be me.  I'd make the choices, go where I want to go.  I'd sit in bright lights and in the gloom.  And you?  Well you would have no power whatsoever.  You would have to follow my every footstep.  Even into dark places just in case someone switches a light on and you're suddenly needed.  You would have to bend yourself into crazy shapes, stretch and squash yourself depending on the light.  And just for fun I'd walk into places with multiple light sources.  I'm not even sure you would cope with that.  You would have to split yourself into two, three or even more sometimes and concentrate and work harder than you would believe.

It's not having a choice that's the hardest thing of all.  Not all the shape-shifting.  Not the fact that if I got it wrong for a moment you might notice and head off into some panic or other.  I don't get a say.  Ask me.  Yeah, next time you want to go to the beach, climb a tree, or sit at a desk for eight hours, just ask me.  You want to play with the lights.  Ask me, I'm affected more than you.  And ask me what shoes you should wear you selfish thing.  Remember that I feel your footsteps.  I think high heels were invented by an evil man who knew the truth about his shadow and who lived to express hatred of any creature darker in colour than he was.  High heels are a shadow's worst footwear nightmare almost.  Don't wear them.  Don't grind me down with that devilish stiletto.

My life is terrible.  I haven't even got rights.  None at all.  I'm not able to communicate with my fellow shadows that often.  You would hear.  While you walk through your lives we can only whisper our hellos when two of us have to occupy the same place.  And that's an insanely difficult task in itself.  We hardly have any mental capacity left after that bit of shade juggling to say anything very clever to each other.  Not enough to begin to organise some resistance to the tyranny, the way you consistently oppress us.  We couldn't do it anyway because such encounters might just as well be random.  We don't choose them.

Things get better when you fall in love and sleep in the same room.  They get even better in dormitories.  Any shadow whose person sleeps in a dorm is envied by all other shadows.  Because they can form friendships that last as long as the person keeps sleeping there at night.  If only we got a choice as to when the friendships end.  You move on from the dorm and the pain experienced by us is exquisitely terrible.  Listen.  If ever you choose to start sleeping in a dormitory don't stop.  And nobody else should stop either.  For the sake of shadows everywhere.

Vampires have got the right idea.  I wish you were a vampire.  Go on, just for me.  Become a vampire.  You know you want to really, especially after I saw you watching that ridiculous romantic vampire movie last year.  Be a vampire.  Please.  Think of me, your innocent little shadow.  Think of me whose life is worse than all your pathetic complaints.  Become a vampire.  And set me free.  Give me that.  It's not much to ask.

No.  You won't do that.  I'm not important enough am I?  Anyway I can tell you that you don't know any real vampires.  At least not very well but you did speak to one just last week.  I spotted them.  No shadow.  I'd warn you about them if I could.

You won't set me free so there's no hope for me except in the freedom your death and my death will bring.  No hope at all.  So I urge you, implore you.  Remember.  Just remember.  My life is hard.  I'm your shadow.  Think of me today as you go about your life.  Don't ignore me.  I'd say to buy me a drink but I can't drink.  Know that when you walk the dark shape in front of you, behind you, by your side has a mind and soul and feelings.  Remember me.  That's all.

[1097 words]

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