Shadows

Flash
Sarah McConnell


The whizz of skateboards receded slightly in the distance. We laughed at their goofy mistakes with the camaraderie of pleasant friends. For a moment, I felt much older than I really was: as though we had all come back from our pained adult lives for a fond reunion of a bygone era. That era was now, I had to remind myself, though I felt that I was meeting these people, these beloved ones, after many years.

The cold night air made our noses run, and as the girls tried to delicately sniff, the old friend to my left snorted unabashedly. Laughter to my right over a joke I couldn’t make out. Nothing propelled me to know what the funny was; I was old and at ease, strolling down the center of the dark street.

The streetlamp a few paces behind caught the four of us perfectly from the back, casting long shadows that walked in front of us. I studied them for a moment, my eyes moving in the traditional Western left-to-right. Short hair, a set of broad shoulders tapering to nondescript waist and long legs. Another set of broad shoulders, with long hair forming a triangle veil from the top of the head down to collarbones, waist tapered and flaring into voluptuous hips. Smaller, hair in a chin-length halo, waist and body in a model hourglass. Taller, fine-boned, long hair caught up gives the illusion of masculinity as boyish lean body glides to the pavement.

“Look,” I say, finished with my own appraisal and ready to share my discovery. “Our shadows. Look how butch we are. Like The Matrix.” I grin as my friends instinctively strike poses that make their shadows look even more like the movie: arms arc into the air and hands pull at the edges of coats, making everything into a chic, windswept triangle. All except one. His body doesn’t move: I hear him laugh softly but his hands stay in his pockets and his shadow remains unaltered.

It might be because he’s cold. After all, he is as old as we all are and undoubtedly bothered by the night’s chill. But I’d rather believe it’s because he doesn’t want to upset our unit: his arm looped with mine.

pencil

“I am sixteen, a junior in high school in the Midwest. I am your basic overacheiver, and I write so that my narratives can take me to a place slightly less flat than where I live. I have never been published aside from pieces in my school’s literary magazine, the Plain Brown Wrapper, and an a brief article a while back in the local paper.” E-mail: dragonsinger21[at]hotmail.com.

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