by Jeffrey Yorio
The phone’s ‘brrzzping’ woke Jack from the zone he was in while playing his favorite online game. He looked at the ID; it just said PRIVATE. What the heck, only my friends have this number.
“Hello, this is Jack, speak your piece.”
A male voice said… “Well said, Jack, and surprise: my name’s also Jack; and I’d like to answer a few questions you’ve had recently. Do you have a few minutes?”
“…I don’t have any friends named Jack; so who are you?”
“Never said I was your friend, Jack, and the ‘who’ is close but, it’s the wrong question. Make it ‘what’ and you’d have something.”
The voice was familiar. Something old as if he’d heard it before and knew it.
“Okay, you’ve piqued my interest. What was I thinking last night?”
“Jack, just because Sherry spends time with you, doesn’t mean she likes you, as much as you think. You’ve never dated a girl of her status before. A cheerleader and team co-captain. You’re not bad looking, or unpopular, but it’s like middle class dating seven figure lottery winner.”
How the heck did he know that!
“Simple Jack, I’m almost you. I know what you’re thinking and why. I’m with you every day, well most of every day. I’m your shadow, which is why my voice is so familiar, it’s yours.”
“Okay, who put you up to this? I bet it was Sally; she’s always liked pulling pranks on me. Maybe it was Reid, my best friend at school.”
“You’re nearly correct, though your sister does like playing jokes on you. she’s in college, so how would she know about Sherry? That’s a new development. As for Reid, though he knows of Sherry, today is Friday evening, and he’s Jewish, the Sabbath, it’s kind of important to his family and that’s why he wouldn’t call. Satisfied?”
Jack paused. What he’d just heard was pure crazy, yet something inside him told him it was true. “Okay, shadow, why did you call?”
“Just to impart some information, make you better informed. Then what you do with that information is up to you.”
“For some of us, it would be redemption. For others, a genuine desire to help. For me, I like providing you with the tools to make your life easier, but as I said, how you use them, I’ve no control over.”
“Okay, since you provide tools, I’ll call you Hephaestus. So, provide already.”
“Shadows, as you call us, are so much more or well, were so much more than that and it’s our own entire damn fault we aren’t. You humans have this desire to be in control, a function of your intelligence, and a gift from a long time ago, one of the two things that set you apart from all the other animals. The second thing you have is, or has been with you all the time, it’s been written about, used as money, lost to true love, even if unrequited…it’s your soul. In your younger days, you called us guardian angels. We’re mirrors of you, tied to you yet separate. Some were able to contact us, see what we saw when you were sleeping or when the sun went away. The line of progression is fact, story, myth then legend; it’s controlled by both the technology you have and your desire to be in control.”
“Why do you say our desire to be in control,” asked Jack.
“Simple, the less you know of something, the more you feel it controls you. It comes down to a misunderstanding of what you were told about dominion over all beasts.”
“But a shadow’s nothing more than a creation of the sun’s rays passing around our body and not through it. Besides, all solid objects have a shadow, how does a rock have a spirit?”
“Because you gave it one; you worry too much and worry often gives a small thing, a big shadow.”
“What do you mean, we gave it one?”
“You see, that’s what’s meant by dominion. An object or being’s importance is defined by those who view it, not by the object or being, which can’t. You’ve become shaped by your thoughts in your desire to explain all things, so that you can control all things.”
“But without light, you don’t exist.”
“Wrong. Without your body I don’t exist.”
This is crazy, I’ll show him. “To light a candle is to create a shadow.”
“If you stand toward the sun, you don’t see the shadow, yet, does it no longer exist? You don’t see air, does it exist? Did you really see Charlize Theron in your dream last night, and if so, was she as happy as you were at the evenings out come?’
Could he be right? “That was a dream—not real.”
“Let’s not go down that road right now, not enough time. I’ll help you with things, information about who knows what, who likes who, who lies to you.”
“Okay, what do you get out of it?”
“The bigger you are, the bigger I am. As long as you are happy I’ll never leave and as long as I’m happy you won’t be grasping at shadows.”
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The Press published Jeffrey Yorio’s Dandelion Dreams on 11-23. He has a story published in Aphelion magazine in February of this year. Jeffrey is 56 with degrees in Education and Operations and works The B Shift as a supervisor at a manufacturing plant. He enjoys reading, writing, and doing the best he can at his wife’s ‘Honey Do’ list.