The Girl With Two Shadows.
Lucy moved into the house on Cooperton Avenue when she turned seven years old. Or rather, her parents moved into the house. It’s not as if she had any say in the matter. After living there for two years she still didn’t feel quite right. The house stood directly across the street from Amon Heights elementary school. She attended second through fourth grade at the small brick schoolhouse but had not made any real friends in that time. The other girls talked mostly about shoes, skirts, and dances. Lucy had no interest in those things. Clothing was just something that you wore. She didn’t understand why so many people made a big deal about it. And as for dances, well, those meant boys and Lucy had zero interest in that subject.
More than anything, Lucy cared about the past. She read any history book she could get her hands on. Everything from ancient Egypt to local lore held her attention. She obsessed over the colonial era and made it the focus of many of her school projects. While searching the library for historical literature she came across an odd book- a small hard-bound volume with no title. Opening it, Lucy realized it was a journal, not a published book. The entries were hand written.
She opened a random page and read:
May the 11th, Wednesday. A fine clear morning. The early songsters warble their notes and all nature seems to smile, but a darke cloud hangs continuously over my soul and makes the days and nights pass heavily along.
May the 14th, Friday. Sister comes here this night much distressed about her baby son who is much oppress’d with phlegm. The Doctor believes unless she could promote some evacuation he could not live. We seem to have little or no sense of anything but our troubles.
Flipping backward through the pages Lucy found the cause of the author’s sorrow.
April the 28th, Thirsday, Nathaniel buried my little Molly Amon ‘neath the sapling he’d planted in anticipation of her birth. The church graveyard does not accept stillborns.
There was no name given to the author of the diary, but Lucy surmised that Nathaniel Amon must be her husband. That name sounded quite familiar to her though she couldn’t quite place it.
Searching the book to see who had taken it out in the past, Lucy noticed it had no card and no Dewey Decimal number assigned to it. This was not an actual library book, just a diary that someone had left here for some reason. With that realization she felt no qualm about plopping the book into her bag and leaving the library. Perhaps she would find the owner and return it.
On the walk home she came across the large oak tree in the middle of the sidewalk. She’d passed it by many times, but this time she took notice of the plaque that said:
PLANTED BY NATHANIEL AMON
Above the plaque a burr knot grew out of the tree. It was about the size of two adult fists side by side and somewhat resembled a face. Lucy pulled the book out of the bag to make sure she’d remembered correctly. Sure enough the phrase “ Nathaniel buried my little Molly Amon ‘neath the sapling” convinced her that this tree was planted by the man mentioned in the diary. In fact, she suspected that this was the very same tree, nearly two hundred years later.
Lucy placed her hand on the tree and spoke the name, “Molly Amon”. She stood there for several seconds, not knowing what she expected to happen. Realizing that she may be standing on the grave of a stillborn infant, Lucy quickly stepped back and walked around the tree on her way home.
As she walked the sun began to set. She loved how the shadows grew longer at this time of day. Often Lucy would dance and move while glancing at her own shadow, pretending it was that of a giant.
Turning to look behind at her shadow she was shocked to see she had two. Spinning around Lucy made sure that no one was secretly walking beside her. No one was. Lucy had to accept the fact that somehow she had two distinct shadows.
Lucy had read the occasional science book. She understood that shadows were caused when an object blocked the light. She also knew that two sources of light sometimes caused two shadows, though one was generally lighter than the other. The phenomenon occurring here was something else altogether.
When she moved, it moved, but unlike her usual shadow, the second shadow seemed to dance on its own. Its feet stayed connected to hers when she stood still, as is normal for a shadow, but its arms and legs flailed and pranced about as if it were relishing the power of movement for the first time. This was unsettling, but Lucy was an intelligent girl and knew that such strange happenings needed to be studied. So she pretended not to notice the shadow as it followed her home.
When she got to the house on Cooperton avenue her mother told her to wash up for dinner. In the bathroom mirror Lucy could see her two shadows on the wall behind her. One mimicked her motions as is to be expected while the other waved its arms in the air behind her.
“Knock it off!” she whispered to the shadow as she spun around to face it. “If mom notices you she’ll lose her mind!”
The shadow settled down somewhat.
At dinner Lucy was polite and quiet as her father preferred it. When she was finished she helped her mother clear the table and went to her room to do her homework.
In the light of the desk lamp the shadow started to walk about her room. It always kept one foot attached to Lucy, but the other would lift as if the shadow were pacing about in boredom.
“I have to do my math!” Lucy chastised the shadow. “I need to do well in school.”
The shadow rested on the bed, its arms outstretched.
After schoolwork and bath Lucy retired early while her parents watched the evening news. She frequently stayed in her room reading so her parents had no inkling that anything was amiss.
Late at night Lucy awoke to see the shadow stretched up onto the ceiling.
“What are you doing up there?” Lucy asked. The shadow pointed down at the bed and then at herself. “Oh, you want to sleep in my bed?” Lucy asked. The shadow nodded. “Okay, but you have to be quiet and stay put. No more antics.”
The shadow made an ‘x’ over its heart.
The next day the shadow went to school with Lucy. It remained relatively well behaved, and only occasionally danced about when no one seemed to be looking.
At recess Susan was skipping rope with Patty and Nancy. Susan was not Lucy’s friend. None of the other kids were, really. Lucy didn’t mind that. She preferred to be left alone. But for some reason the trio had decided to play near the wall that was Lucy’s favorite reading spot.
Not wanting to cause a stir, Lucy sat down on the concrete with her back against the brick wall several feet away.
She pulled the diary out of her bag and began to look through it, but was distracted by the jumping girls. Susan leapt into the air rhythmically as the other two arced the rope around and around. With each leap her skirt flipped up slightly.
Susan gazed directly at Lucy and stopped jumping suddenly. The other girls let their ends of the rope go slack.
“Are you looking up my SKIRT?” she accused. “Oh my word! Lucy! Are you a dyke?”
Lucy was not familiar with that word. The only definition that came to mind was a dam in Holland. But she could tell from the context that Susan meant something else entirely.
“I’m telling Miss Evans!” shouted Susan for the whole schoolyard to hear.
Miss Evans called out from across the blacktop, “Susan! What seems to be the problem?” as she approached. Miss Evans was the young, new teacher’s aid the school had just hired.
“Lucy!” said Susan, “She tried to look up my skirt while I was jumping rope. I think she’s a-”
“Enough!” chirped Miss Evans, “I’m sure that Lucy was just looking up at a cloud or something. Isn’t that right, Lucy?”
“Yes, Miss Evans.” said Lucy. That seemed to settle it.
The other girls resumed skipping rope and Lucy put her face in her book and tried to act like she didn’t know that Susan had accused her of being...something.
Later that day when they were exiting the school Lucy kept her head down. Susan was walking ten feet in front of her and she didn’t want to draw any more attention or be accused of looking at the other girl. The sun was bright that day and it cast the girl’s shadows to the right of them as they crossed Cooperton Avenue. Lucy glanced down at her two shadows.
Her regular shadow marched along with her just like the shadows of all the other kids, but her second shadow stretched out its tenebrous arms and grabbed Susan’s shadow by the throat!
Lucy stopped in the middle of the street as she saw her new shadow throttle the shadow of the other girl.
“No! Stop!” she shouted.
Everyone stopped, including the crossing guard.
“What’s the matter, little girl?” said the man dressed in a yellow smock, holding a tiny stop sign.
The shadow had stopped its attack and was now heeled beside Lucy.
“Nothing sir.” she said, rushing past the other kids and up to her house.
“What a little weirdo.” said Susan at Lucy’s back.
Lucy’s mother was in the sewing room, mending one of her father’s shirts. As Lucy entered her mother waved at her with scissors in her hand.
Lucy waved back and crept up to her bedroom.
She sat at her desk and retrieved the diary from her bag. She was certain that the diary, the tree, and the shadow were all connected. Lucy hoped to find a clue in the pages written by this unknown author.
May the 23rd, Friday. I am much distressed. No clothes ironed, fretted and tired almost to death and forced to stay at home. Nathaniel knowes I have been to visit the sapling. He doesn’t know that I brought my Molly back with me. If he finds out he will try to bury her in the cold ground once again.
That was the last entry in the diary. After it several pages had been torn out and the rest beyond that were blank.
Lucy threw the book aside. She couldn’t bear to read anymore. She stood up from her reading desk and saw the shadow.
“What are you doing?” she said, as the shadow flourished a pair of shadow-scissors.
“WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE?”
In a flash the shadow hands snipped at Lucy’s feet.
Two swift cuts and the shadow was freed from her.
It slipped out the door and down the stairs.
“Where are you going?” said Lucy as she chased after it out of the house and down Cooperton Avenue.
The shadow glided along the sidewalk for several blocks until they came to an old church that Lucy had never taken notice of before. Behind it stood a small, overgrown graveyard.
The shadow slithered through the iron fence. Lucy climbed over it in pursuit.
The shadow slid from grave to grave as if it were looking for something.
Finally, it stopped at the cemetery’s single mausoleum.
The name “AMON” was chiseled across the top.
Looking inside Lucy could see two stone sarcophagi.
“Is this the grave of Nathaniel Amon and his wife?” she asked the shadow. It nodded.
“Why are we here?”
The shadow entered the mausoleum. Not knowing what else to do, Lucy followed. It was nearly pitch black inside, but eventually her eyes adjusted.
The first sarcophagus bore an inscription that read:
Nathaniel Henry Amon. Teacher, Husband, Father. 1743-1786
The inscription on the second read:
Mary Elizabeth Amon. Wife and Mother. 1749-1774
The shadow threw itself upon the grave of Mary Amon.
“She was your mother, wasn’t she?” asked Lucy. “You were the stillborn?”
The shadow nodded once more.
“But how? You don’t look like a baby.”
The shadow shrugged.
“What do I do now? Just leave you here with your mother? Is that what you wanted all along?”
Lucy stepped out into the midday sun. The shadow did not follow her.
The next few days were close to normal. Lucy went about her usual business with only one shadow like everyone else. She steered clear of Susan and the other girls and generally kept her head down.
On Saturday Lucy went to the library to return the diary. She knew it didn’t actually belong there but had no idea what else to do with it. When she entered the librarian was talking to a man Lucy didn’t recognize. He was a short man in a dark gray suit carrying a shiny black briefcase. He was very pale and had dark eyebrows.
“I’m sorry sir.” she overheard the librarian say to the man, “We don’t have any such book in our collection. The friend who claims to have seen it here must be mistaken.”
“I am disappointed.” spoke the man, “My associate was quite insistent that the book could be found here. Might you check once more?”
The librarian sighed and went to double check the catalog.
Lucy quietly stepped over to the history shelf where she’d found the diary days ago. She thought it best to put the book back where she’d found it instead of on the returns cart. Placing the diary gently on the shelf, she turned to leave.
“Hello child.” said the strange man who was now blocking the aisle.
“Um. Hello.” she croaked.
“What’s that book you placed there?”
“Um. It’s just an old diary. I think I’m in the wrong department...I should leave”. She tried to walk around him.
“Child. You’ve read, that diary? Have you not?”
“A little. It doesn’t-”
“Did you finish it?”
“Um. No sir. I just leafed through it. Only a few entries honestly.”
Pushing past her, the man retrieved the diary and flipped to the last entry.
“Where are the missing pages?!” he bellowed.
“Wha- I dunno. Those pages were gone when I found it.”
“Liar! What did you do with the key? Are you working for the Voiceless?”
“Mister, I don't know what you’re talking about. I’m just a kid. I just like to read. I don’t know anything about your keys.”
The man was furious. He cracked Lucy across the cheek with the diary in his hand. She fell to the ground.
The man leafed through the volume once more.
“This book is USELESS without those pages. Do you take me for a fool?”
He lifted his leg as if to stomp on her. Lucy saw his black shoe headed for her face and winced at the coming blow.
It never landed. The man fell back. She scrambled to her feet and saw him wrestling with someone-no some...thing.
A mess of black tendrils wreathed around the man as he struggled on the floor of the library.
“What?” she gasped.
The man grappled on the floor with a shadowy being. When Lucy spoke it turned a face toward her. It was her second shadow, but somehow it had grown in size...and power.
One of the shadow’s hands momentarily let go of the man, just long enough to gesture for Lucy to leave.
Lucy ran around the man and the shadow. She fled the library entirely. She ran at least two blocks toward home before she slowed. She passed the old oak tree in the middle of the sidewalk. At its base she saw a small yellow envelope with her name written on it in plain letters.
Exhausted from running Lucy sat on the bench by the tree. She opened the envelope. Inside it was a white card with a message in black ink.
THANK YOU FOR GUIDING OUR SISTER THROUGH YOUR WORLD.
WE WILL BE WATCHING YOU.
Lucy looked up at the burr knot on the tree. It seemed to have nearly doubled in size since she first noticed it days ago. The face looked oddly cherubic, like that of a blissful infant.
Intro and outro theme
Music Provided By Mediacharger
Artist: Darren Curtis
Track: Demented Nightmare
Background Music Provided By Mediacharger
Music Created By : Myuu
Song Title: Growing Shadows