The Shadow and the Boy

 There was once a shadow that flickered in and out of spaces. Sometimes it would emerge slowly, sometimes all at once. But, one way or another, it always emerged, and when it did, it darted.

    The shadow darted because it was afraid. And it was afraid because it was lost. Somehow, somewhere, it had been left behind. The shadow didn't know how it happened, but all it wanted — so very desperately — was to get home. Only, it didn't know where home was. In fact, the shadow didn't remember anything about home at all.

    One day, when the shadow was hiding between a wardrobe and a dresser in an old house, a little boy caught site of it.

    The shadow quickly darted further back into the darkness, and would have tried to hide forever, except that the little boy sat down, crossed his legs, and stared at the dark space where the shadow hid. Any movement, and the shadow knew it could be caught. Being caught felt like the most dangerous thing in the world to the shadow. And rightly so! There was no way for it to know what might happen. The shadow could be strung out into a shadow string, or bent into a cube, or any number of horrifying shapes.

    The shadow was paralyzed with fear. Even when the little boy went down to have his dinner, the shadow could not move, for what if the boy came into the room at just the wrong moment? What if he captured the shadow and turned it into something that was not a shadow at all?

    The shadow's fear grew even worse when the little boy came back after dinner, and crossed his legs, and stared, yet again, at the dark space. And so, the shadow remained hidden and terrified between the dresser and the wardrobe.

    'Shadow,' the boy spoke gently.

    The shadow froze in its hiding spot. The boy knew. The boy knew it was there. The shadow began to shake.

    'I think, Shadow, that you might be a bit lost,' the boy continued, with a voice as gentle and as soft as a voice could be. 'I think you might belong to me,' he said.

    The shadow stopped shaking. It looked at the boy carefully.

    'It's okay, Shadow. It's hard to be lost. But if you trust me for just a moment, you'll get to feel home again.'

    The shadow thought and thought, as the little boy waited. Its fear grew as it thought again of all the horrifying things that could be done to a shadow. And then it thought of how horrible it was to not have a home. Perhaps, the shadow thought, it could have a little bit of hope. Perhaps, the shadow thought some more, it could be very brave. 

    Then the shadow took hold of all its courage and drew closer to the boy.

    And as the boy extended his hand, and the shadow took hold of it, suddenly it knew what it was to be home — which, of course, was the end of its fear.

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