Shadows Can’t Hurt

April 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

His eyes were glued to the set. Later, when they asked him what he had seen, he perked up and rambled on about Timber. That damned dogesque goof with the annoyingly high pitch, unbelievably optimistic voice. He went on about the plot, such as it was. When they asked him what he had heard he brightened even more.

“Hot dog! Hot dog!” he cried as gleeful as one might expect.

When they left the room, when he was alone in the silence, he listened to the sounds of the day fight for room in his head. He watched the shadows of his home struggle on the concrete walls in front of him. His father’s shadow made the most noise, falling through a table and pleading for his son’s life.

His mother’s shadow sat quietly. The shadow waited for the gag to go away. He kept his eyes as much on the screen as he could. If he didn’t look, it didn’t happen.

“God, please, please, don’t hurt us. Don’t hurt my boy.” That was his father.

His father screamed the most. His father cried the most. When it was his mother’s turn, her shadow straightened against the wall.

“Take what you must and go.” The acrid sensation in her low demand had chilled him and the strange shadow. “Touch my boy and no amount of death will stop me from taking you with us.”

The shadow had laughed. He had laughed, but the laugh had shaken with imbalance.

Timber danced across the screen. Then his mother screamed, too. He sat waiting, eyes glued to the set, waiting for his turn. The front door shut.

In the silence, he closed his eyes and remembered his mother telling him in the long nights that shadows just can’t hurt people. “Hot dog. Hot dog.”

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