Friday, 14 November 2014

Short Story: Shadowed

by Anushka Kar








I regret it. I regret it all. I regret the ignorance I emanated. I regret turning my emotions off. I should have stayed in the water.

 

I fell. And it all happened in one week.

 

Thursday 15th October 1992

‘What do you mean she’s gone?’ I screeched into the phone.

My mum looked at me with a frown and a slight tilt of her head.

 

I hung up.

It’s a joke.

It had to be.

 

‘Who was that?’ my mum asked with a slight concerned tone in her voice.

Silence.

‘Gemma, who was it?’

I blinked back tears as I spoke her name. ‘Kat’.

My mother’s eyes went wide.

 

Friday 16th October 1992

She’s gone. The one thing that kept me together is gone.

My best friend is gone.

 

Vanished.

 

Dead.

 

Whatever you may call it. My best friend has been taken from me due to a moving vehicle that happened to crush her right there on the spot.

And now I have to walk into school like nothing ever happened.

 

Saturday 17th October 1992

The pain, it’s unbearable-what must I do? Ignore everything and everyone, which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past sixteen hours. I drive to the only place I can think of – Firebird Lake. It’s funny how it’s my favourite place to go while I live in Phoenix. The place is quite nice actually; usually around thirty five to forty degrees and the sun doesn’t sting your skin, it soothes it. But somehow, I’ve always wanted it to rain.



I twist the key and slam the car door behind me as I walk straight over to the lake. I stand by the water for a moment and look around. The trees are a rose red and the grass is wilting, but the sun still shines on my face. I look down and suddenly capture sight of a completely different image of myself. My jet black hair has a touch of waviness; my soft blue eyes stare back and my skin, a pale olive colour. That’s all the same – but my eyes are not still with peace; they are restless and are tinted with a deep saddened look, along with several eye bags underneath as if I haven’t slept a second for the past twenty four hours or so. My whole body is ridged with tension and my hair has managed to fly around everywhere with the soft breeze behind me.

But that’s not what has caught my eye.

 

Sunday 18th October 1992

I remain antisocial as the hours go by so I decide to go to the lake where I see it again. It scares me at first – I know I’m hallucinating. But then I think. Hard. I’m so lost in my thoughts that when I look closer into the water I gasp. One half of my reflection is my plain self – but the other half is some sort of shadow. The shadow seems to be grabbing onto me - my reflection - with wisps of darkness.

Like it’s growing.

 

Monday 19th October 1992

I wake up and determine it was all a dream – a nightmare – and just to make sure, I run directly to my mirror to see my reflection.

 

No wisps.

 

No shadows.

 

No darkness.

 

Just me.



I continue to ignore everyone and I’m already so used to it; it feels like a sixth sense to me.

As I walk to the car I see a girl; she looks around twelve but as I squint my eyes, I get a better look of her and she looks to be around my age. The girl seems to have fallen or tripped and has tears streaming down her face while her leg is twisted in an awkward position. But I do not help. I do not call for help. I feel almost compelled to get into my car and drive to the lake.



So I do.



I’m suddenly standing by the lake and peer deeply into the water and see nothing.

 

I blink.

 

And then I see it.

 

The only difference is that the shadow appears to be three quarters of me now. I shriek and run to the car. I sprint into the house as I stumble up the stairs and throw water on my face. I breathe hard and study myself in the mirror. But there’s nothing left of the shadow.

But I know what I saw.

And it looked bad.

Whatever it was.




Tuesday 20th October 1992

I continue my routine of ignoring every being around me, and after yesterday, I decide I cannot deal with this.

So I turn off my emotions.

I go numb.

I don’t know how I do, but I do.

 

Wednesday 21st October 1992

I see my reflection in the glass window early in the morning and I see the shadow. I can hardly see myself now – but it doesn’t throw me back; I just gaze at it and stay motionless.

 I’m halfway down the stairs as I hear my mother hang up the phone and mutter something along the lines of ‘where is she?’

I think I have a pretty good idea of who this ‘she’ might be.

 

I shrug and wander back up the stairs as I quickly glance at the calendar. My head snaps up as I look back at the calendar.

But then I go numb again.

It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow.

But I don’t care.



Thursday 22nd October 1992

I don’t sleep the whole night as I wonder. Wonder what my shadow is trying to tell me. Wander why I’m still breathing this very moment.  Wonder why I hadn’t turned off my emotions in the first place to stop the pain clawing at my heart. I don’t feel, but I can still wonder.

 I’m so deep in thought that I don’t realise that it’s 6:34am.

 I’m officially eighteen.

 But I’m not buzzing with excitement like I should be. I’m still heartless – almost robotic.

 

I get a sudden rush of adrenaline and feel my head go blank as the blood runs through my body; my heart is heavy with pain again.

And just like that, my emotions are flicked back on like a switch.

 But my eyes are suddenly transfixed and mind feels controlled. Compelled.

I feel possessed as two words swirl in my brain again and again. I have to go, otherwise I feel as if every bone in my body will break.

 

FIREBIRD LAKE.

 

I keep my head up as I take one step after the other when I suddenly find myself in my car. I twist the key and the engine roars to life as I drive to Firebird Lake. The words sizzle in my head as I edge towards the lake.

And then I’m suddenly close to the edge of the water.

Too close.

My figure takes shape in the water as my reflection is no more.

Only my shadow remains.

I feel an odd droplet of water on my arm and look up. Now that’s a surprise – it’s drizzling. Not pouring rain, grey sky and thunder which you see in the movies. But it’s still rain – what I’ve always wished for in the back of my mind.

 

And then I’m falling.

 

Not drowning.

 

Falling.

 

I hear a soft rumble and I’m suddenly floating whilst tingling inside as an icy chill runs up my spine. But as I look around two words possess my head again. Only this time, all I hear is ‘get out’. And before I know it, my inside voice is screaming these two significant words.

 So I drag myself up to nowhere in particular, when my head freezes as it reaches air. I haul myself out of the water as I cough and splutter onto the ground; it takes every ounce of my strength to stand up again. I don’t feel like a possessed alien anymore – I’m shivering like crazy as the cold chill finally reaches my finger tips.

 

I spot a girl with short blonde hair shaped in a cute pixie cut standing by a tree. She looks strangely familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. I shuffle towards her and tap on her shoulder from behind.

 

No answer.

 

I turn towards her face and gape as the memories come flooding back. I look down at her feet and only just realise she has crutches as I jump back. It’s the girl I never saved. The blood drains out of my face as I tap on her shoulder again.

 

No answer.

 

I try to croak out some words for help.

 

No answer.

 

Her eyes look out into the distance – straight through me – as if I’m not there. Fine. Let’s have it her way then.

 I gather some more consciousness and take a step towards the pavement as I grit my teeth. The town centre is just eight minutes away from here, so I persuade myself to walk on with more pain than I’ve ever felt before.

 

I begin to come across more people, and I’m quite surprised that they’re not giving me odd looks considering that I look like an ugly rat right now.

 

But then something happens.

 

I freeze, my pulse quickens and I hold my breath as I register that someone just walked straight through me.

 

Now

I don’t know how long it’s been since I turned eighteen. Days, weeks, years – I have no clue as I continue living in the shadows of people.

My mind still races with questions to this day and my heart still feels heavy with an enormous amount of pain, guilt and regret.

But I now watch over the girl I never helped. Never met.

 

The worst part is that I’m oblivious to the world.

 

I’m invisible.

 

I’m shadowed.

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