Here is my piece for False Start Fridays in all its unedited glory. I am not sure whether this was a false start or simply a very short story. Maybe I could expand it and do something with it. Or maybe I should just thrash it. I am finding that fiction is a lot harder to write than I thought or maybe that’s because real life can be so much more interesting. Anyway, let me take a deep breath and just hit Publish.
We’re inseparable, my shadow and I. Wherever I go, it comes with me. We are one and yet we also have two distinct personalities. Yes, you’ve heard me right. I said personalities. It’s because of my shadow that I am here awaiting trial for … but wait … I start my story at the end. For you to be able to understand, I will need to start my story at the beginning.
I can’t recall exactly when it started but I was very young. It happened after my sister was born. She was gorgeous: blond, with big blue eyes and a peachy complexion. I soon started hearing whispers of ‘changeling’ and, I admit, we were as different from each other as strawberries are from pruners. I was the dark one, with black eyes and sallow skin. I had always had a close relationship with my shadow. It was my friend, my confidant - someone to whom I could whisper all my secrets. But soon after my sister was born, it seemed to develop a life of its own, a personality of its own. My shadow would whisper words in my ear, horrible words, harmful words and it would goad me. Oh, how it would goad me. I was never at peace from its insistent murmurings.
“Take her toys,” I would hear.
“Pinch her arm.”
Each time I would obey and get into trouble. I would always blame my shadow. But no one ever believed me. They thought I was making up stories. That is a bunch of lies. I never made up any stories. My shadow talks to me. Why will no one listen? Why will no one understand?
I used to wait with glee for the night, hoping that the darkness would make my shadow flee. But it would not. It was there at my side like a dark ghostly presence - a specter with blazing red eyes. It took over my life and invaded my dreams. There was nowhere I could hide. It was like a voice inside my head, constantly nagging, and I was like a puppet on a string. As I grew older I tried to control it, but it was always there, lurking in the dark corners of my mind. Sometimes I sensed a lull in its whisperings and murmurings but then it would be back with a vengeance. Its suggestions would get worse.
“Push her down the stairs,” I would hear.
“Hide her homework.”
I always obeyed and my shadow would laugh. Sometimes it was a nice little laugh, like the tinkling of broken glass. Other times it was more of a screech, like the noise your nails make on a blackboard. Those laughs terrified me and haunted my nights. My dreams were filled with high-pitched shrieks and dark shadows. I would wake up shuddering, in a cold sweat, hoping it was just a nightmare. But my shadow would be there by my side or at the foot of my bed, waiting for me with a sneer on its blood red lips.
On and on this went. I could not escape its clutches. Then, at eighteen, I developed a crush on this boy in my class. Ricky was handsome as could be but I did not have the courage to approach him. I was sure my tormented soul would drive him away. For a while, my dreams were more pleasant, filled with images of him. But always, on waking, my shadow would stand there and mock me. I longed to hide my head under a pillow and never have to face it again. I watched Ricky from the sidelines and I was content. Until one day I saw him with my arm around her - my sister. A blinding rage clouded my vision and I heard an insistent whisper, “Kill her.” I tried to drive the thought away, to suppress it, to ignore it. But it kept flooding my head like breath floods my lungs, without effort, without thought. Finally, I gave in. I saw them together and I lunged at my sister with a sharp knife. My aim was inerrant. My inexperienced hand guided by rage and jealousy and by that constant dark shade at my side. The knife found its mark – straight to the heart.
So that is why I am in this cell, awaiting trial. I am alone with my nemesis; my inseparable twin. Me and my shadow. My shadow and I.
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