Story A Day Challenge continues:
Here is an attempt I am really proud of, or that I like a lot. It may need some work, all my stories from this challenge do, but I don’t have fresh eyes yet.
We live in the shadows – every shadow. At noon time we burrow. At night we flourish. And we are not like you. As we age we become mischievous. The great shadow of the Scottish pine trees lends us shelter. We speak in the wind. We always want more.
Our acute sensitivities sniff out trespassers. The young ones fear you and are cautious. But the weathered Shadow Dwellers like me ride in your wake and ape at your back when you walk this beaten path. I watched you for ten years. You trudge through our woods, heavy feet. You listen to everything but the wind. You act as if nothing frightens you. Today is my eighty-sixth birthday. I am anxious for you to walk by, friend. I hail from the mightiest of all Shadow Dweller clans: the Mudflicks. We own these woods. I can own your shadow. And I will.
You are late. Your feet are not so heavy today. I lurk behind a shady brush, waiting to morph into your shadow. When you pass, I hurl myself into your darkness and surf the forest floor. The fir cones massage my back and I stretch my being to match your gait. I don’t care what you are chasing but your speed impresses me. I’ve saddled you before, on one of these shopping trips, but your haste is my birthday present. I feel the warm asphalt on my back, then sidewalk, then commercial linoleum.
Once inside, I feel the air passing through me. I am a florescent reflection now, small and light. I let you get your supplies, feeling as if I should remind you to grab orange juice. I let you forget, thinking of the sure victory to come. We pay the cashier and leave. The ride back is always the best. Cracked sidewalk. Burning asphalt. Home.
Your plastic bags cover my rustling. I am getting up, form fitted and elongated with the forthcoming sunset. Yes, my friend, I am stealing your shadow. You will be our new house. But first, I want to try you out.
I prepare to detach from your feet. If you turn around now you will disturb my progress. I call to my brothers resting in the branches: “Mudflicks rise!”
Your shirt flags in my speech.
“Here is our friend, brothers, who carried our hope in his travels. For ten years, we have waited for a mobile abode. We plunder, but we often fail. And now, Shadow Dwellers of Falkirk, Mighty Mudflicks, rise!”
I hop on an independent shadow leg, and cry out, “Seize what he barely remembers, what cannot hurt him, and what will never fail us!”
A rising wind gathers the entire clan. Leaves and twigs raise their heads, approving their advance. Mudflicks charge toward me, filling your shadow. The communal stretching will free us from the hold of your left foot, right foot rhythm. You go on ahead, friend, walk. We stand free in your shadow, you leave the woods a little lighter. You have no idea. The wind rushes aged cheers at your back.