The Lovely ShadowI am a southern guy, I consider myself to be rugged, manly and tough. Much to my dismaymama refers to me as having a gentle soul. She’s never said it to me personally, but I overheardher once talking to one of my aunts in the city. I know that there is a lot of talk about me aroundtown. People ask mama why I have yet to marry, am I currently courting and things like that. Iknow there is pressure on mama and she sometimes feels left out when she sees her friends’children moving on with life and starting families of their own. Me? Well, I am not againstmarriage or anything; I’ve just never met anyone that I really liked. I’m 17 and I’ve never had areal girlfriend. It’s not my fault; there aren’t too many girls in town my age, well pretty ones atleast. It seems like the girls that I go to school with are ALL thinking about getting married,having babies and then that’s it. I’ve tried to tell mama that I want more than that. When Igraduate, I want to see the world. I want to visit other places and learn new things, meet newpeople. I want adventure just like the people in the books I read. Nothing good ever came to anyof them by living in the same rural town their whole lives. Sometimes I lie in my bed and havethese thoughts at night. I stare at the ceiling and think and think. I knew that tonight was goingto prove to be different when mama came and knocked on the door.
“Avery, honey,are you awake?” Mama said softly through the small crack in the door. She waswearing her night coat and was holding a box of something. It was a dusty old box that wascovered with a small thin blanket.“Yes, ma’am, I’m up.” I jumped from the bed to help her with the box.“I need you to run this over to the MacArthur’s’ place please, its urgent.”“Oh, and Avery, be sure to go to the back door, I told them you were coming, so just go on in.Ms. MacArthur doesn’t want you to knock”I could see in mama’s eyes that something was going on and that look she gave me let me knownot to ask any questions so I didn’t. Instead, I got dressed and headed over to the MacArthur’s.Mama really liked the MacArthur’s; they were good people, quiet and decent. Mrs. MacArthurwas a short and stocky woman with rosy cheeks and gentle eyes. Mr. MacArthur was a strongwilled and firm man from the North. He always gave me easier ways to get things done aroundthe house like chopping wood and stuff. He was wise and since papa was gone I soaked in all Icould from Mr. MacArthur. They had twin boys, a lot younger than me, Peter and James, but Icall them PB and J. They love to run around chasing bugs and throwing rocks.As I approached the back porch I could see the lights were dim and the house was quiet. It waseerie. You would think that with two energetic eleven year olds it would be a mad house. Igently pushed the door open and made my way in with the package from mama. Mrs.MacArthur met me at the door and I followed her to the kitchen. She seemed tense and hurried.She took the box from me and placed an envelope in my hand. That’s when I saw her, well that’swhen I saw her shadow anyway. She was tall, slender and lean; she moved quickly through thehall from room to room and I stood there staring at the spot where her silhouette had just been.Mrs. MacArthur was busy putting away the items that mama had sent. I said good-bye andbegin to make my way back home.I kept looking back at the MacArthur’s house, hoping that she would look out of the window andsomehow see me and when the house was far in the distance, I looked back once more and sawher shadow again in the window. It must have taken me a little longer to get home, when I gotthere, mama was waiting on the porch. The slight look of worry on her face quickly snapped meout of the daze I had been in, thinking about the mysteriously beautiful shadow on theMacArthur’s wall. I handed the envelope to mama, kissed her cheek and made my way to bed. Iwelcomed the thoughts of her that came back. I wondered who she was, how long she had beenhere and when was she returning. As I lay there in my thoughts, the room quickly became filledwith both our shadows dancing around the room.For three nights I lie awake thinking of her. Each day I hoped mama needed to send me over tothe MacArthur’s for something. But she didn’t. Finally, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait onthat. I was going to go on my own. I needed to see her face.
Now, I’m not the bravest man around when it comes to girls, in fact I don’t really say much at allto them. When I am at the market with mama, some of the girls will try and start a conversationwith me while I am waiting but it’s all really surface. It’s never really about me. They just talk,talk, and talk all about themselves. They compliment me and giggle until it’s time to help mamaget her things. Mama says it’s called flirting and that even though I should be the one initiatingit, I should be cordial and smile anyway.I didn’t have much of a plan for when I got to the MacArthur’s. I knew they would be expectingme to be bringing something from Mama, so I grabbed a jar of peach preserves that she madeand headed to the MacArthur’s. The closer and closer I got, the more my heart beat faster. Themore my mind tried to talk me into turning around and heading home, the more my heartpushed me to go on further. Trying to rehearse what would happen once I arrived, I becamedistracted and fell into some type of deep, manmade pit in the ground.I tried and tried to get myself out but I couldn’t get traction and slid down each time. Tired, dirtyand exhausted I sat down at the bottom. It was going to be getting dark soon and I couldn’tthink straight over the growls of my hungry belly. I remembered the jar of peach preserves I hadin my sack and ate the entire thing like a starving animal. Mama would have a fit if she saw theway I was eating I thought as I closed the jar and put it back in my sack. Then I began to hear acrackling sound above me. I stood really still, and prepared to protect myself in case it was asnake or a wolf.One thing I learned from papa before he left was how to protect myself against animals. Heonce told me a story of how he was once lost in the woods for days, he lived off of wild honeyand berries and had stumbled across a pack of wild dogs. I looked forward to the times that Iwould be able to share my adventures with my own children. He taught me everything he knewabout surviving. I may not be the best looking or the smartest man, but those skills give me anadvantage over every other man in town.As the sound got closer I could sense that it was softer and lighter. Probably a rabbit orsomething or I thought. It became silent, I looked up from the deep hole and there staring downat me was the most beautiful human being that I had ever laid my eyes on.Her skin was flawless and sun kissed. Her hair was long and flowing and the wind carried eachstrand together behind the perfect backdrop of the setting sun. I knew that it was her. The girlwhose name I did not know but whose shadow I had dreamed of and remembered so vividly. Iwas taken back by her beauty.I stared at her for what must have seemed like an eternity and then she finally said to me, “Youreally could use a napkin Mister.” She laughed as she walked away from the hole. I snapped outof my daydream and realized that I was covered in dirt, bugs and peach preserves. My hair was amess and I had ripped my pants during my failed attempt at trying to get out of the hole. Certainthat she had left, I sat back down in defeat. Soon, she came back with a large tree branch that Iused to climb out. Her name was Nora.
Mr. MacArthur and her mother were brother and sister. She was from up north visiting butdidn’t say much else. I liked that about her. There was really something special about Nora. Allsummer we became closer and closer having many other adventures and becoming the best offriends. She thinks that the very first time that we met was that day in the hole. But I know thatit was that evening that I saw her lovely shadow in the MacArthur’s kitchen.Story by: Bella SpinelliFrom: USARead more short stories:http://www.shortstoriescorner.comPlease check out the E-Book Store for more fabulous books.http://www.shortstoriescorner.com/e-book-storeImage courtesy of Image courtesy of Download "Silhouette Couple Walking" by sattvaFreeDigitalPhotos.net