••• The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
Darrell is walking up the sidewalk with her, idly talking.
Every day, he says, I walk up Washington Avenue with the sun at my back, following my shadow. I try to catch up to my shadow but have no luck.
What? Why is this? This seems foolish—
I want to catch up to my shadow and walk over it and be in front of it. I want it following me instead of me following it.
I don’t understand why that’s important.
If I turned around and went the other way then my shadow would be behind me; but if I do that I will never get home, which is my real goal; home where I will let myself in and wait for Father to arrive. I’ve got time you know to turn around and walk down Washington and get the temporary pleasure of having my shadow follow me. But I won’t do that. That would be cheating; that would be the easy way out. I want to keep walking uphill and catch the shadow and walk over it and have it follow me.
I don’t get you, Darrell—I really don’t get you—
I walk faster but the shadow is faster too. I want to jump out in front and stomp the shadow; the shadow wouldn’t exist after all if it weren’t for me. I have the right to abuse it and I would have the right to stomp it. And this would be okay because the shadow has no feelings. It’s not like me; it tries to be like me but it never can; and when I get home and go into the house the shadow will disappear—
So why is it so damned important Darrell, if it just ends up disappearing?
Oh, it is, it is. Actually though, first I’ll have to make the left turn onto Wilson avenue, where I live. I’ll make the turn and go down Wilson and the shadow will be walking at my right side now. I’ll jump right but the shadow will jump away like it always does and leave me frustrated and mad. But when I get home and turn left into my driveway, at last I will have won. The shadow will be behind me, walking. And I’ll go up into the house and the shadow will disappear and all these thoughts will evaporate from my mind until roughly the same time tomorrow. Which will be now, again.
That’s weird. A weird way of putting it. So why are you telling me all this?
Because it’s important. I’m walking up the avenue with the shadow there. I only have these thoughts when the shadow is before me. It becomes all-encompassing and between it and trying not to step on the cracks in the sidewalk, I will be completely occupied. That is, if you leave out the fact that I must reach the next square of sidewalk before that car coming up behind reaches me. I must do that, and I mustn’t step on cracks, and, oh, yes—I have the shadow to pursue.
You make it all sound so complicated—
Yes indeed; walking home from school is exceedingly complicated. The sun and the cars and the cracks make it so. They fill my head. The sun generates the shadow you know. If it weren’t for the bright sun the dark shadow would not be. That seems strange but it proven by the fact that on days when the clouds block over the sun, on days where rain is threatening and even falling, the shadow is not there. The shadow needs the sun to exist. That seems strange; dark depends on light. Don’t you think so?
I—I never think about things like that. I suppose it’s strange, if you say it that way—
And you know—in the future, I will learn about something called the Lahaina Noon. That’s when the subsolar point where the sun is directly, exactly, precisely overhead crosses Hawaii. A flagpole will have no shadow. Or a straight telephone pole, or a lamppost. And I will have a shadow but it will be a pool of dark under my feet that I will be able to stomp and the shadow will lie there trapped, unable to walk ahead of or behind me. It will be under my command. It will be subservient which is what it deserves because it would not exist if it were not for me; it should be grateful like I should be grateful to God for making me, like I make the shadow. I should be subservient to God and so should the shadow be subservient to me—
It sounds to me like you’re getting carried away with this notion—what do you mean, you will know this in the future? Don’t you know it now? You seem to.
I know it and I don’t know it somehow—don’t try to make sense of everything. That takes all the fun out of life. But listen—the Lahaina Noon is the only time things are right and in balance and fair. This is when the sun forces the shadow into its place. Lahaina does not mean cruel sun in Hawaiian for nothing. The sun is cruel to the shadow, in the Lahaina Noon. The sun places the shadow where it should be. I win over the shadow. All things are in balance. But I have not learned that yet here on Washington Avenue, here so many years before. Up Washington Avenue the shadow mocks me and constantly escapes me except for those few moments when I turn into my driveway and it is behind me, quiet and unseen and respectful, and up until then, it did not matter, if I passed by a hedge or a tree or a bush or a sign or a hydrant or a pole or a driveway, or that special telephone pole that has a twist of wire tangled all in black knots in the crossbeams above. It doesn’t matter that the squirrels run or the robins hop or the bird up on the wire squawking casts shadows all around. Those shadows mean nothing to me. They are nothing like me and mine. Only me, and my shadow, are important.
Oh you’re all wrapped up in yourself, Darrell, she says, rolling her eyes.
Yeah, maybe; oh, here’s my turn—here’s Wilson Avenue—
I’ll see you Darrell. I go straight here.
I know. We do this every day. Remember?
© Jim Meirose December 2016
Bio: Jim Meirose's work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Permafrost, North Atlantic Review, Blueline, Ohio Edit, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. His novels, "Mount Everest" and "Eli the Rat", are available, Published by Montag Press. Three more novels are under contract with Montag for 2016-2017 release. More information is available at www.jimmeirose.com.
Moving the Continental
by Jim Meirose
Dreamscapes life stories