Shadow PlayMature

Although Garnet was well aware that her mother worried when she ventured forth into the night alone, she could not keep herself from it for long. Too many hours spent surrounded by people, by the concerns and demands of others, and the young woman felt scraped raw by everyone else's expectations. Where in all of that was the space for her?

Every day the question was raised: Who are you? Who will you be? Everyone had an idea of what she was supposed to be, what she was supposed to do and to want. Her mother's choices for her were all the things a good young woman should want: a home, a family, enough wealth, beauty, sweetness. Garnet's manners were impeccable, she was always well-groomed, and inside she longed to scratch off the perfect surface and find something more.

Teachers at school pushed Garnet to succeed. Not a bad thing, and yet in the midst of the demands she felt stifled. Did she truly like physics? Did she enjoy history? The only times she felt free were creative writing classes and art classes. There she could stretch herself, wriggle around in her own skin, and consider what she could become. Those times were all too few.

Her friends were sweet, girls much like her. Young women who knew themselves, or not, but who had shared whispered conversations, late nights, and lazy afternoons. Even with them, though, Garnet felt herself pulled in different directions. They all were beginning to seek their own paths, but there were still expectations they held to. Still things they were unwilling to try or to think or to say. All the things that tumbled around inside Garnet's head as she considered her life and what it would be.

And so Garnet found herself slouching on a swing in a shadowed playground, pools of light dancing with dark shapes in an intriguing - if daunting - pantomime. Her hands curled around the chains and she felt both sheltered by the seat and exposed to the night. The creak of shifting poles followed her as she lazily swung forward and back.

The shadows shifted and before her eyes a battle began. Fairies and trolls battled giants and dragons. Knights rode horses and quests were completed. The world her imagination painted for her hid the mundane sticks and rocks, the tufts of grass and candy wrappers that truly made up the background for the shadow play.

In her mind the story began and she could practically feel herself sketch the death of a monster, see the dark pooling of blood beneath a gaping maw. She heard the words in her mind, the narration of the hero's triumph. The world faded utterly from around her as she considered the plot that ran within her mind.

In this stillness she did not notice that she was no longer alone.

The moon and stars peeped between the bare limbs of trees, observing what was to come. The chill in the air tickled beneath the edges of Garnet's coat and she huddled a little more tightly within it, still lost to the warnings the world tried to give. A shiver of shadow reached for her, but she did not understand.

The warning was lost. Then again, she might not have heeded it anyway.

Maybe it was not a warning at all, but an invitation. With such things it is often difficult to tell until events have unfolded and one can look back with the benefit of hindsight. Her mother would call it a warning. Garnet, well, that has yet to be decided.

Regardless, Garnet was not aware of anything beyond the epic adventures her inspiration was building. She did not recognize that the edge of shadow she saw as an approaching storm could very well be described as such, metaphorically of course. It was the sign of something approaching, something with the potential to support new life or destroy what is there.

A throat cleared. The sound blended so well with the events that took place within Garnet's mind that it was a moment before she realized that it had been a real sound she had heard.

And so she turned, and a new possibility opened. 

The End

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