The early morning sun came in through the eastern window of a modest bungalow. Past white curtains, it danced inward upon the back of a human girl.
It was a child's bedroom, decorated with fledgling artistic talent and posters of a kids' show. There was a bunk bed, for one child. Her stuffed animals were scattered upon it, collecting dust.
She had long since stopped playing with them. She was nine now. She had even stopped talking with them. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Mabel had curly brown hair, and far too many freckles by anyone's reckoning.
The window was at the head of her bed, and cast the shadow of her seated form upon the sheets. Her shadow was there, indeed. He was a taller silhouette, at times like these, and smiled at her from upon the sheets.
"How are you, Mabel?"
"I'm fine, Shay," she answered. "Mother's taking us to see a special lady. A sick-e-a-tricksed."
"A psychiatrist?" he asked, with an edge of fear in his voice.
"No, Shay," she told her shadow. "A sickeatricksed."
There was an eerie silence, and it worried those in the room.
She broke it, "And you, Shay? How are you this morning?"
"I'm fine," he told her. "Not as dark as I could be on these white sheets, though. I liked the gray ones."
"Well," she said, folding up her legs and edging towards the ladder, "I have to go now. Gotta eat breakfast quick, Mom's taking me to an early apartment."
As she walked into the kitchen, Mabel's mother looked up at her, "Who were you talking to?"
The kitchen had six lights at odd angles, and thus nobody in the room had any defined shadow.
"Mabel," her mother repeated, "Who were you talking to?"
"Mipsy," she lied. Mabel chewed at the side of her cheek, and her left leg wobbled.
The cat brushed against her mother's denim-covered leg, "No, Mipsy's been in the kitchen with me."
Mabel looked down at the patchy cat.
The cat looked up at her. It had big green eyes, that consumed her sight.
"Oh," she said.
"Mabel, you're too old for imaginary friends. That's why I'm taking you to the appointment with Doctor Wye."
"Excuse me, young lady?"
"Why does he have a funny name? And why do I have to see an appartment with Doctor Wye?"
"App-oint-ment, Mabel. It's like a visit to the dentist, but instead of working in your mouth, Doctor Wye is just going to ask you some questions."
"Oh, all right." she sat down at the table, across from a plate full of two pancakes. Gingerly, she reached for the maple syrup. She loved the taste, and hated the sticky jar. It poured out, generously, drowning her pancakes. Questions aren't so bad, are they?
"Have you seen your father this morning?"
"No," Mabel lied.
"Well, finish up quick, hon. We've gotta go soon."
Ten minutes later, Mabel's mother was leading her outside. The sun cast a shadow behind the girl, as she walked around the car. However, it was eclipsed by the shadow of the minivan.
A boy of her age, from across the street, was riding his bicycle along the sidewalk. He waved, "Hi Mabel!"
He looked down, as she began to open the back seat door. And, for a second, he saw her shadow. "Hey Shay!" he yelled.
And Shay waved to Greg.
The door slammed, and Mabel got into the car. It roared to life with a turn of a key, and the radio began to play. Mabel's mother was tapping her fingers against the steering wheel.
To the same beat, she felt something hit against her back. She raised her voice, "Mabel, stop kicking my chair!"
Mabel liked her mother. She knew better than to kick someone's chair, especially her mother's. She didn't want attention, she had been getting quite enough of that lately, even a doctor.
She liked Shay. And sometimes she didn't. He was smart, and she was dumb. She was strong, and he was weak. She was humble, and he was proud. She was polite, and he was rude. Her shadow was her opposite in every way, but also a reflection of herself. Sometimes a friendly one, sometimes a scary one.
And her mother kept driving, tapping her hands to the rhythm. They passed main streets, and busy intersections. She even had to drive them through an uncommon roundabout. The radio broke into ads, and boredom ensued. Then, it happened again, "Mabel, for God's sake! Stop kicking my chair, or so help me Jesus, I will turn this car around and you won't get any more television for a week!"
"Mom," she pleaded, "I ain't kickin'! I swear!"
"What have I told you about lying, young lady?"
Mabel looked down, glumly, at the shadows of her feet.
"Look, just don't do it, it's only another minute or so. Okay?"
Mabel didn't answer. She just looked out the window, muttering something incoherent under her breath.