Any decent Shadow’s work begins at daybreak, following the form of “Master” to which it is tied. With the dawn I revive from my feinted slumber like clockwork, reacting to the sensation of sunlight bearing down. My body boils down to form, each shadow cell destructing just as yours did in our mother’s womb. Though I am barely a whisper as you let loose a raging cascade of noise, we are a perfect match; thrust into this world of light and meant to be together forever.
Some might think me a pest by mimicking your actions, friend, as perfectly as I do. A silent guardian, a petite angel bounding along lightly at your side among hills and valleys as you carry such a heavy burden in the morning sun. I like to think us companions, you and I – living the same life side by side. Each morning we dress from the dark closet in the furthest corner of the room, sift through the refrigerator for something to eat, and put on shoes before setting out into the world. We both like flowers, stopping to stroke their petals whenever one catches our eye. Sometimes we even pick a few; giving them to the girl whose hair is always in a messy, stringy bundle atop her head as we make our way past her house each day.
Just as me you seek shelter from the overhanging sun, chatting with your friends as I chat with mine beneath this gazebo of quaking leaves. You laugh plenty enough for the two of us as we enjoy our friend’s jokes, happily spending this time together. Eventually many of the shadows reemerge into the sunlight, leaving us alone with the now ponytail-haired girl. Both she and her shadow become ecstatic as they gain a new lump to one of their fingers; one which casts neither the outline of a shadow, nor pure light in this brightly shimmering world.
Back to work we go, unearthing and growing new shadows to fuel our lives, and the lives of other shadows new to this world. It is hard work, but we do it together; standing side by side in the partly-cloudy afternoon. Tiny fingers wave in our direction, catching our attention as they pass by, held hand in hand by a woman whose hair now hangs low around her shoulders, masking her shadow’s face. We set aside the tool we had been grasping, making our way along the dark, muddy trail. I stumble alongside you when our foot is caught in the muck, recovering just as easily as you do after so many years of practice. As one we raise a hand, the sun erupting from the clouds to join with those tiny fingers as one.
Your voice has fallen away now, replaced by a whistling tune in the waning day. Shadows warp and twist, the bonds between us waning as the moon waxes into the sky above. We have since lost one of our legs, gaining a set of spoked wheels in their place. Though it isn’t all that bad; we are left grounded among these tiny laughing shadows that come visiting every afternoon. Memories of shadowy nights ripped to pieces by light haunt our eyes – yours just as dark as mine now – reminding us of the unforgettable with each glint of silver to pass us by. Reaching out our hands meet with one whose finger is adorned with a shadowy light – stained slightly foggier with each day that has passed, still neither of darkness or light – unfrightening as the sun sets into night.
For eternity, not a single moment passes without the Shadow, for even in light – though it may be diminished in strength – never is it gone. I lie by your side even now, you suddenly silent as I have always been. A hand adorned by shadow pierced with bright, polished rainbow shards parts from our own, never again to meet. Light beats down around us before being extinguished, leaving you and I alone together – just as in the beginning. As the nocturnal requiem begins, we listen, slowly the sounds being muffled and dying away. Shadows cover over the entire land, guarding through the night as you and I are cut off from the world of brilliant day and shrouded night. Never again shall the light reach your face, leaving me as the sole silent, eternal guard. That is the fate of the Shadow; never missed, desired, or lost, simply always, always there. Swathed in utter darkness unlike any we have known, my mouth is now able to be level with your ear. Finally, in this silent room filled by you and I, you can hear me whisper all that I have wanted to say.