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Shadows

Short Story

Kalli Burton

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When I was younger, I never saw them that much. Going through the park with my parents, I would occasionally seem them, running through the bushes, sometimes pushing the swings, even. Once my father passed away, they became worse… more noticeable. By the time I was eleven, I began to see them outside the house at night. The trees would move without a hint of wind and that is how I knew they were there, watching me. I began to have nightmares about them. They would be under my bed, typical characteristics of a monster. I woke up screaming most nights after dreaming of a silhouette of a skinny hand reaching out over my pink, butterfly print comforter.

My mother would come in, some nights crying and we would both lay there in my twin-sized bed for many hours, sometimes until the sun came up. We would watch the colors change from burning colors of orange, purple and pink to bright blue skies with cotton balls filling the sky. Mom would make hot chocolate and pancakes with strawberries and chocolate syrup, a perfect way to end a horrible night. Although, one morning, it was cereal and that’s how I knew something was wrong. She said there was a therapist in the city, one that I would start going to starting that following Monday. The first week, the therapist just wanted to get to know me and my past life. The second one, it became a little more intense and with each week, it got more and more deadly. Each session was a new day of picking through my brain. In the beginning, I would tell her exactly what was on my mind, sometimes snarky comments towards her and other times sarcastic comments thrown here and there. Last year, I became very suspicious and cautious of everything going on in the room. I would watch what I said about the monsters, careful not to mention them at all, actually. Her questions became more intense and more nit-picky, sticking her nose in places where it did not belong.

The monsters started following us to the building in June, last year and became very distracting. I would lose my focus, looking outside, trying to receive a better look of them, hoping to actually see what they looked like. Becky, the therapist, would have to snap at me sometimes, regaining my focus and drawing my attention back to her. One day though, last week, she said something to me that made me uncomfortable… “You’re a special child, you know?”. No, sorry, I don’t know, you creepy creeper. That’s not something you say to a child twenty-something years younger than you. But I asked her what she meant by that statement and she just smiled in return.

That night, driving home from the store, they were following us. I could see them swinging from streetlight to streetlight. Well, I guess not really swinging, but jumping. When we pulled into our driveway, mom turns the key to turn the vehicle off and begins to step out of the four door, Nissan rogue we bought 3 years ago. I grab her arm and give her a silent ‘please don’t leave yet’ look and she slowly slides back behind the wheel. We sit there in silence for a few minutes and just think. Together. We are not able to do this very often, but when we do, we know exactly what the other is thinking.

“I miss him too, hun.”

I nod my head in agreement, holding back the tears. We open the door and head to our rooms to get ready for bed. I meet her in her bathroom and brush my teeth with her, having our little silent chat again. She gives me a little tooth-paste filled grin and a small wink and then spits out the paste and water mixture into the marble sink. We say our “goodnight’s” and “I love you’s” and off to bed we go.

I crawl under my teal blue comforter and laid down facing my digital clock. It read ten thirty-seven and that’s what I remember… before I woke up at one in the morning, with a creek of my bed and a shadow sitting an inch away from my feet. At first, I was scared. Then, I worked up the courage to ask it questions.

“What are you?” I whispered.

No answer.

“Dad?’

It shook its head ‘no’ in reply.

“You’ve been following me?”

It bobbed its head up and down.

“Are you here to hurt me?”

Shaking its head from left to right, it breathed in and out deeply, like a normal human being…but it wasn’t.

“So, you are protecting me?”

I heard the mumble of a “yes” before it stood up. Bright, blue eyes were staring at me and the silhouette of a normal, human hand reached out and brushed a piece of hair away and tucked it behind my ear, before it vanished from my bedside. I was all alone.

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The school newspaper of Paola High School
Shadows