Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week Thirty Two: October 4th - October 10th

Tales Told by Lost Shadows.

     Our tale starts off on a green stretch of softly rolling hills, running in every direction as far as the eye can see. The wind - delicate today – picks up blades of grass the size of a hand, and gently sets them back down. The wind breaks into many different directions, forming gorgeous patterns of intertwining shapes, pressed into the blankets of grass. The designs serpentine together as they run across the field joyously, until being momentarily separated by a little girl standing in the middle of this never ending expanse.
     The girl – a child in fact – appears to only be five or six, and is wearing a long sleeved blue jacket, with a brown skirt. A typical school uniform, in an untypical setting. Walking through the grassy field, she looks over her shoulder irritably, and stares behind her. “Go away” she whispers, as she starts to trudge ahead. After a few feet, she looks behind her again, and says “Go away”, this time a little louder than before. She picks up the pace, and starts to quickly walk away. Slowly, her head looks back behind her, and hey eyes widen in anger for only a second before she falls to the ground. Turning around, nothing can be seen in the field except for her shadow, dancing on the waving grass. Surprisingly, she starts to hammer her tiny fists into the ground where the shadow is, and starts screaming “Go away! Go away!”. Aggressive shouts quickly melt into weeping pleads, as she tries to crawl away, crying out “Please... please just go away. Please leave me alone”.
     The dancing shadow just stares as the little girl grips tufts of grass with her hands, and sobs into the dirt. Unbeknownst to her, the shadow starts to stretch out, breaking away from her. Tiny hands break from the shadow's side - their fingers trying to lace themselves with hers, but coming up short. The sound of a hammer striking an anvil loudly echoes inside her head, sending her on her back, kicking and screaming for it to stop. Only a few moments pass before she feints, laying there in that field with the wind – delicate today- as it picks up strands of her hair, and gently sets them back down.

     For those of you unaware, the human spirit is a fragile house of cards, made up of astronomical coincidences; each part playing its own respective role. If you remove the smallest, most insignificant piece of a puzzle, is it still whole? It still stands, and it may still look good at first, but deep down, we know the puzzle is incomplete. When Amissa removed her shadow, she in turn removed a small part of herself. She now roamed the countryside, searching for something she was never quite sure of; walking ahead, growing increasingly weary with life. Her shadow was cursed to follow her, but never quite able to catch her. He knew if he could say just one word to her, they could be together again, but she would never look back. One foot in front of the other, she stared straight ahead and never saw him.

For years, she walked from town to town, always searching for that something, long since forgetting why she was looking in the first place. Her shadow had given up trying to reach her, and instead finally came to terms that he would never have her back. After all this time, even he was just content with staring at his feet, and marching in line – nothing else mattered anymore. Our tale concludes three months later, on Amissa's 21st birthday.
     Mirroring their appearance, the sky above was gray, and the rain was coming down quite liberally. Eyes on the ground, the shadow started to speak to himself for the first time in over a year. “That's right” he says with a small laugh, barely recognizable as such. "Today is Amissa's birthday isn't it. Happy birthday dear” he spoke softly. He somehow found the courage to lift his frail neck, and tried to yet again reach her. The trtuh though, was that he had no hope, and this was just merely just tradition by this point. The soft patter of the rain is broken by a dry scream, as the shadow runs ahead like he never had before.
     “It's my 21st birthday today” Amissa said to herself sadly. “16 years of searching for nothing, when is it time to rest?” “I'm so tired” she whimpers to herself. “I'm so damn tired.” She stared only as her feet as usual, until her next step sent her plummeting down the edge of a cliff. If you don't look up every now and then, you have to deal with the consequences of your actions. She didn't recall screaming herself, but she heard someone else in that moment.
     Her arms are suddenly lifted as a black figure wraps his own under hers. “Umbra, you're back” Amissa sleepily says. “I am, my love, I am” the shadow responds. Wrapped in his arms, she places her chin on his chest, and peers into his dark face and starts to softly weep. “I'm tired Umbra, I'm so tired” she manages to get out. Turning her head sideways, he presses her cheek against his heart, and begins to drag his fingers through her hair. “Shh, we can go to sleep now my love.” he whispers into her ear. Through a yawn, she manages to get out a “I've missed you so” before falling asleep. Like a long lost friend, Umbra's smile appeared on his face for a moment, as tears streamed from his cheek and onto her sleeping face. He held her close, and closed his eyes, and for a brief second, felt as if flying before slipping off to sleep as she did.
     Smiles plastered to their faces, and their minds soundly asleep, they never felt the rocks at the bottom as they crashed upon them. Death came instantly, and although quick, in it, held more meaning than a lifetime of searching. If you ever feel that you are wasting your entire life searching for something you can't explain, just look over your shoulder my friend. Chances are it's the only place you haven't yet looked.


  1. Caleb, this is amazing! Even though they died at the end and I am a sucker for happy endings, I am so glad they were together. Beautifully written. I love it.

  2. This has a nice message :) I like it Caleb :)