The Shadow [working title]

Archi's real, no kidding, she promises she'll finish it this time, novel:
What if your shadow were a real person? What if he needed a shadow, too?


Patrick Shuttleworth skidded back and fell on his face. He jumped up again, swiping gravel from the divets in his small, irritated palms and smudging the grass stains on his nose. He looked down. His shadow flickered at him as a breeze rippled across the grass. Patrick huffed and twisted up his mouth in frustration.

                "I give up!" he announced. He yawned and stretched theatrically. "I guess I'll go back to the - house!" On that word he launched himself to the right, tucking himself and rolling in a bundle of knees and elbows across the lawn. He unfurled and spun around, gasping in the sudden exhilaration.

                His shadow, too, shivered with excitement. Patrick stuck his tongue out at it and lifted himself off the ground. Two boys - one vertical and one horizontal - stood with their hands on their hips.

                This time, Patrick set off on a brisk jog, hoping to ease his shadow into a comfortable lull. He rounded the flower garden and the passing of his quickening gate set the thick heads of the tulips to bobbing and knocking against each other like a gaggle of blind mice. At the side porch Patrick sped up, ducking his head and squeezing his fists into tiny weights to help swing him farther with each stride. His tennis shoes squeaked as he veered around the corner of the house and Patrick imagined his shadow skidding unsteadily on the turn. He pushed himself forward, puffing now. He imagined the puffs of surprise his shadow was surely letting out as it scrabbled to keep hold of the tips of Patrick's sneakers. He imagined he heard the tiny pop as each thread holding his shadow onto him snapped. He charged, feeling a ripping and burning and popping within himself as his shadow's grip slipped.

                Patrick stumbled. He landed on his elbows with a yelp and rolled onto his side. His chest heaved with a sound like crackling paper and Patrick blinked, squinting back the way he had come.

                The shade of some bird or passing cloud was shuttling across the grass. It seemed to Patrick's blood-choked ears that the sound of breathing was all around him. The shadow swerved toward him. It collided; the force knocked the remaining air from Patrick's collapsing lungs.

                The world rushed back with the yowl of a siren. Patrick's body hissed as it re-inflated the collapsed cavity and Patrick's heart skittered in its rhythm at the sight of foreign faces leaning over him. The faces smiled with relief at the return of vital signs on their monitors.

                As the ambulance rattled away Patrick's face was strapped with a breathing mask. Before he slid away into the dark he searched the table and found his shadow lining the edge of his body, just as it always had. 

The End

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