I wish there were a better beginning to this story, MY story, but that’s not possible. I grew up with a…interesting family. My father died when I was 7 and my mother slowly grew mad with depression and neglected us; us being my brothers and I. We were left all alone, for my mother had gone to live in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. We survived…for a while, but then things started to go amiss. For starters, there was the hunger. Our relatives had no idea that we had been alone for the past 5 months. Mainly because they didn’t really care about us after our father died. So we ran out of food very quickly. My eldest brother, Colin had hundreds of dollars in the bank, but our car had no gas left to retrieve it. Colin tried to be the father of the household for a while. He was tall enough and with turning 21 he certainly became old enough. Except in his eyes could be told the story of our past. Playing video game after video game, never running out of food and drink, all of that became a luxury. There was never a better way to live for my brothers. My other sibling, Jack, became the mute of the family. After mom had left in the middle of the night he never said a single word, not to us, not to his friends, not even to me who had become the counselor of the group.
This is how our life went for a very long time. We starved, losing nearly all of our body fat. Then we froze as the winter snows fell down before our very eyes. Soon it became a whole year of neglect. I suddenly had a bitter hatred for our mother. At first I forgave her thinking that she would be back, but then again, she never was the one to keep her promises. The last time she said she promised was the night my father died. She promised he would live and be okay. That was a complete and utter lie. I was 17 now and I had become immune to the lies of society. My dark brown hair had grown long and the humidity of the summers turned my hair flatter than ever. Don’t ask me how, I honestly wouldn’t know. Usually I’d ask the internet, but that has stopped working too.
In the daytime my brothers and I would conjure up whatever money we had to find food. Any type of food would do. Some days I felt like a raccoon or a possum scavenging around the city of Salem, Washington. But the people never complained. Though there were some occasions where citizens would throw us out of their restaurants simply because we were looking around asking people if we could have some of their leftovers. Sometimes it worked and we ate like kings! Other times, especially in the winter time, we weren’t so lucky. But then again, winter wasn’t my best season. Winter was full of shadows for me, which was strange because of the fact that we barely had any light in our house. Many shadows appeared small and unthreatening, while few showed to be menacing, creepy even. And when these shadows would appear I’d close my eyes as tight as possible and thought of a happier place, a place where both my parents were alive and happy with our family. However, sometimes that didn’t work, and I’d have to rush away from the shadows in fear of what they might be.
It seemed silly to be so afraid of shadows. Considering they were just shadows in the first place. But there was something about them. Something mysterious that always caught my attention. And for quite a few there was no exception. At least 95% of the shadows I had seen seemed to follow me throughout the days and nights. Some I came to name after a while. One that appeared only in the summer nights when my windows were opened was named lilac because of the scent of flowers surrounding it at all times. Strange occurrences happened, often and that one winter night was no exception.
One night, while I froze under the covers of my nearly broken loft bed, a shadow crept into my room. I had assumed it was just a shadow. There had been random misshapen shadows everywhere lately and I no longer had fear for them. But this one was different. It lurked to and fro desperately trying to avoid the light of my candle. I stared at it for a long time and couldn’t decide a name for it. So I called it shadow. I squinted at the shadow trying to figure out what it was and why it wanted to stay out of the light, but it was difficult to see clearly. Very quickly I built up the courage to speak.
“Why must you avoid the light?” I said quietly, feeling stupid for talking to a shape in the night.
The shadow stopped abruptly and turned what I believed to be its head to the top of the loft. It hesitated to speak, almost as if it were choosing its words wisely. There was silence for a long time and an absence of movement. It was deafening for once, driving me mad that I was the only one able to speak. Then, I heard an intake of breath and listened for a voice. It was as if it said nothing, it was extremely quiet. I strained my ears to listen.
“The…light…it’s cruel and unforgiving.” It replied, I raised one eyebrow, what the shadow said was strange. “The light is cruel and unforgiving,” how is it cruel? I came to love the light. And the light came to love me, for it was always around me when I was lucky enough to find a candle in the depths of our basement.
The voice of the shadow was the voice of a man; or rather I’d hoped a boy. For if a man was to get into my house and into my room I’d surely scream. But his voice was, reassuring, almost peaceful. And all the sudden I had felt safe in that bed staring down at a shadow afraid of the light. I was calm as he started to move again, he still avoided the flickering light of the candle but no longer in sharp motions. It was strange to see, and as he walked closer a feeling of fear was then formed in the pit of my stomach. It tightened my throat and made it hard for me to breathe or speak.
The shadow came closer yet, so close that I could see a hand reaching out to me. I inched closer to the wall because I still had that strange feeling of fear. He tilted his head in confusion, and then grabbed my hand with a sudden quickness. I cried out but it was too quiet for anyone but him to hear. He shushed me and then pulled my arm closer to the edge of the bed. I shut my eyes tight and tried to resist.
“Relax.” He cooed.
At this my mind went mad I thrashed and cried out but it seemed useless. I felt as if I were falling. I opened my eyes again and saw that I had fallen out of my loft bed and was now in the arms of the shadow. He put his head to my ear and told me to relax again. Except this time I didn’t thrash about or cry. In fact I didn’t even move a muscle.
He carried me over to the closet and opened the door. My clothes were scattered all over and the souvenirs collected dust on the top shelf, but it appeared…different this time. It was strange and unsettling. There seemed to be a door in the back of the closet that I’d never seen before. And all at once it had opened sending an incredible amount of light into the bedroom.
I was no longer being carried by the shadow. I turned around to see if the shadow was still there, but it was gone along with the door. The road in front of me wasn’t filled with cars. It wasn’t even filled with people. The road was empty and hot on my bare feet. I looked down and saw that I was still in my pajamas which made me feel embarrassed and unkempt. But then again, why should I care? I was the only one there. Or so I thought.
In the distance there appeared to be yet another shadow. At that I groaned. I was tired of being the target of shadows. I tried to walk away from it, yet it kept moving. It seemed to move faster as it got closer, almost as if it were running towards me. I sat down in the dirt and sighed. I had always been the strong one in the family. Now it was me who was giving up. It seemed useless. I had no idea where I was let alone how I got there. So how would I be able to get back anyway? It seemed nearly impossible to escape these shadows that I’d seen.
The figure was upon me now, but it was different than that of the shadow that brought me here. In fact, it wasn’t a shadow at all. It was a boy, about my age or older, with sandy hair and eyes as blue as can be. He loomed over me, a smirk on his face. And held out his hand to me and as I grabbed for it the other shadow appeared. I suddenly overcome with confusion and dizziness. At first it was because of the heat, now it seemed as if the shadow and the boy were watching me, constantly following me.
“Leave me alone shadow,” I whispered, putting my head in my hands and rubbing my temples. The boy laughed, but it wasn’t maniacal as I had believed it would be. The laugh was light, friendly even. And as I cried I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“What shadow?” he replied smiling.
I looked up and saw that the shadow had indeed disappeared. I couldn’t believe it. I whipped my head around looking for it, but it was nowhere to be found. It confused me even more. Where had it gone?
The boy saw my confusion and smirked again, still holding on to my shoulder. He crouched down beside me and looked straight into my eyes. There was no better way to explain the blue of his eyes than to compare them to that of the Caribbean Sea. They were calming and I once again felt peace just as I had with the shadow’s voice. The boy stared for a long time and the heat of the sun caused beads of sweat to appear on his forehead. He whipped them away several times, but his eyes were still locked with mine.
I began to realize that the road I had seen before wasn’t a road at all; it was a desert, or what I believed it to be. The sand appeared beneath my feet and my hands were suddenly warmed from the intense heat of it. But it didn’t bother me; it was as if I were in a trance of some sort.
“Who are you?” I asked.
The boy didn’t respond for a long time. He just shrugged his shoulders and sighed, sitting down beside me in the sand.
“I wish that I knew the answer to that,” He replied.
I felt bad for him. He didn’t know who he was either. Occasionally I had to remind myself who I was. Which became harder and harder as the years went by. He seemed truly upset and I thought I glimpsed a tear falling into the hot sand beside him. I wanted to comfort him, but I just met him. It wouldn’t be best to just hug a random stranger…would it? I didn’t know. The only thing I knew was that it was slowly getting darker in the desert road and the hot air was becoming chilled. The sun was setting behind us. I turned to watch it fall, slowly changing the cloudless sky from a robin egg blue to hues of orange, yellow, and pink.
The boy still said nothing, and it was just as unsettling as when the shadow didn’t speak. He didn’t turn to watch the sunset as I had. I don’t even believe that he acknowledged it at all. The boy sat in the sand, tears falling down as his confusion grew more and more.
Eventually the sun had set and the desert had become dark and cold. I shut my eyes and breathed in deeply, then opened them again in shock. I wasn’t in the desert anymore. The boy was no longer there sitting down beside me. I was back in my bedroom on the floor right below my bed where I had been caught by the shadow. I felt as if I were there the whole time. My shoulder ached and my back screamed. I shivered for there were no blankets on me.
For days I pondered this. I constantly stared into space thinking about that night and about both the shadow and the boy. I suddenly had feelings for the boy. He was sweet and his eyes were incredibly hard to stop looking at. But that wasn’t why I had feelings for him. He was just as lost as I was. He didn’t know who he was and I didn’t know myself either. We were both lost in that desert desperate to find a way out.
After a while I thought it best that I wouldn’t see him again. My conscience kept telling me that with him came very bad things. So at this very thought, I went to bed one night, only for the same thing to happen again one summer night. Except, this time…this time was a little different.
I sat up and hit my head on the ceiling, gasping as it knocked the air out of my lungs. I slammed back into my pillow and looked around the room hastily, groaning as my forehead started to throb. There was no way I’d be taken by the shadow again, not tonight. I listened carefully for any unusual sound in the house. Then I realized that there was no sound at all. Not of Colin or Jack sleeping, not even of the snow and the wind blowing outside. It was silent. I didn’t want to make any noise what so ever, for I thought that if I did something terrible would happen, but I wished to find out whether my brothers were still safe in their rooms. I crept down the stairs of my loft bed and slowly creaked open the door. I went into the pitch black hallway touching the walls and reaching for the small corner where the door of Jack’s room was. I tried to open it as quietly as possible; however, the doors in the house constantly creaked even when it was new. But there was no sound of complaint from my brother. No rustling of blankets or even the sound of him breathing, it was completely silent in the room.
I sprinted over to the bed, but it was empty. I felt the covers for any body heat, but there was none. It was as if he hadn’t been there at all.
At this thought I ran to Colin’s, not even bothering to be silent with the door. I had the same result. No one but me was in the house.