Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tales Told by Lost Shadows Edit Prep 2012

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 length of a hand, and gently sets them back in place. It dances on deft toes in many different directions, forming patterns of intertwining shapes pressed into the blankets of grass. The designs flow together as they run across the field, until being momentarily divided by a little girl standing in the middle of this never ending expanse.
     The girl – a child in fact – appears to be only six or seven. She wears 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 begins to glare. “Go away,” she whispers, as she starts to trudge ahead; stomping her small feet, eyes looking straight ahead. “Go away,” she says again, this time a little louder than before. Straining her eyes to look behind, the glare darkens as she bares her teeth. Kicking off her shoes, she begins to quickly run through the grass, eyes closed and chest pounding with the effort. Thinking she has outrun it, she slowly turns her head, only to see that no ground has been gained.
     The anger in her eyes flares for only a brief second before shock takes over as she plummets to the ground. Turning around, nothing can be seen in the field except for her shadow, dancing on the waving grass. In desperation, she starts to hammer her tiny fists into the ground where the shadow rests, and starts screaming “Go away! Go away!” Aggressive shouts quickly melt into weeping pleas, as she tries to crawl away, crying out “Please... please just go away. Please leave me alone. I just want to be left alone”.
     The dancing shadow just stares as the little girl grips tufts of grass with her hands, and sobs into the dirt. Unaware, she continues to cry as the shadow starts to stretch out and break away from her. Tiny hands split 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 starts to echo inside her head, knocking her onto her back, kicking and screaming for it to stop. Only a few moments pass before she faints, lying there in that field with the wind – delicate today- as it picks up strands of her hair, and gently sets them back in place.
     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. Removing even the smallest, most insignificant piece will change it. It’s as if completing a puzzle, and then removing a small piece from the middle. Perhaps nobody on the outside will notice, and perhaps it will look fine, but the puzzle is still incomplete. That missing piece will make others close to it loose, and soon, they too will be gone. It’s only a matter of time before it all crumbles, and the puzzle is nothing more than a pile of broken pieces. 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 live life as the shadow of a shadow; close enough to see, but too far to reach out and feel. He knew if he could say just one word to her, they would 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 forgotten something, long since forgetting why she was even looking in the first place. Her shadow had given up trying to reach her, and instead finally came to terms with the reality that he would never have her back. After all this time, even he couldn't walk without his head down, staring at his feet and marching in line – nothing else mattered anymore. 
     Our tale concludes three months later, on Amissa's 18th birthday, in the field where she first lost her shadow. Much like her own state of mind, the sky above was heavy and gray. The wind was electric today, changing directions in the blink of an eye; rain fell in heavy sheets. Eyes on the ground, the shadow starts to speak to itself 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. To be honest, the shadow didn't really expect to catch her anymore. He had long since given up such ridiculous hope. This was just merely a routine that kept him going. The drumming of rain and crashing of waves is broken by a dry scream, as the shadow runs ahead like he never had before.
     “It's my 18th birthday today,” Amissa said to herself sadly. “12 years of searching for nothing, when is it time to rest?” “I'm so tired,” she whimpers to herself. “I'm so damn tired.” As with every day since that time in the field she had long since forgotten, she walked forward, staring at the ground in front of her. All other sound is drowned out by the crash of waves beating against the side of the cliff, but she doesn’t hear them. It's been a long time since she's really listened to anything. Closing her eyes, she continues to walk forward until she feels the ground disappear from beneath her, and plummets from the cliff into the ocean. If you don't look up every now and then, you’re always bound to fall. She never opened her mouth, because death was not something to fear anymore, yet something surprising happened. She could have sworn she heard a familiar voice scream, but it wasn't hers.
     Her arms are suddenly lifted up, as a black figure wraps his own around her waist. “Absum, 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 Absum, I'm so very tired,” she manages to get out. Turning her head sideways, he presses her cheek against his chest, 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 say “I've missed you so,” before falling asleep. Like a long lost friend, Absum'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 shut his eyes, and for a brief second, felt as if flying before slipping off to sleep as well.
     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.
- Marek Morello

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