It curled up against her like a lover, brushing hair aside as it whispered poison into her ear. When she looked down all she saw was shadows.
She swore vengeance on the spectre, words solidifying her fate surely as any arrow loosed into a battlefield.
The girl refused to accept the words, to look inside herself and see the truth twisted and broken into something monstrous. Instead, she averted her eyes and turned up the light. She sang and chanted, refusing to let the darkness beat her. To her horror, the shadow only grew as the light intensified.
She became a beacon, shining like the dawn. Her shadow dwindled only then, first to an ink stain and then to void.
The woman was elated, she danced with joy. She laughed.
Despite her victory, something else laughed with her.
The voice never left, and now it’s joy was greater than ever. Too late, she looked around for the source, only to spy her reflection staring back at her in the mirror.
“Little one, I’m glad you’re finally listening,” it said with a wry grin, “I feared you would hide under your cloak of shadows forever.” It paused, eyes hungry, “I’m glad you’ve seen the light.”
She shivered, mouth agape as her look changed from ecstasy to dread. “But it was the shadow that did this to me, was it not?”
Her reflection found this prospect hilarious, “Oh no, beloved. It’s your shadow that challenges you to be better. It’s the darkness that tempers your weakness and begs you to become stronger when you face your worst opponent.” It cocked a head to the side, gaze curious, “And in abandoning your shadow you’ve surrendered. Now, come, I have much you need to know. You need to know your lack of worth, child. Let me make you a reality more suited to my purposes.” And with that it continued to whisper until the girl shattered.
Months later, the community came to look for the girl. She lay on the ground where she fell, unseeing. Finally, they called for the wise woman. The wise one approached the child, quickly assessing the damage. “Cover the mirror,” she said quietly to one of the gathered youth, “she does this to herself without knowing. At times like this, our own counsel is often the worst.” With those words, she pulled off the cloak, sheltering the girl under it.
“Is there hope for her?”, one of the assembled asked.
“I have given her my own shadow,” the wise woman responded grimly, and they saw that it was true. The old woman’s darkness no longer lay at her feet like a purring cat. “This one will fight, as is her nature. She’ll regain Hope, as it comes with the shattering of this illusion.” Her gaze traveled from one person to the next. “Let this be a lesson for all. We often lie to ourselves to say that we can’t accomplish our dreams, but our shadow never lies to anyone.”
This is unedited, spur-of-the-moment writing. My friend, Justin, asked me to write a fairy tale in under 500 words. This barely makes that cut. Inspired by recent conversations with Morgan Daimler and others about the danger of ignoring the “shadowy” side of life.
Yeah, I don’t even know if this is coherent. It’s a thing.