On the Naming of Shadows

Lily, CB, and I are on the trail, the sun low on the horizon, their fingers stained with blackberry juice. CB is trying to pick a tiny thorn out of her finger and holds it up to me for help. Afterwards, we look back and see that Lily has stopped for a few minutes on the trail, and is staring down. She picks one foot up, stomps it down, picks the other foot up, stomps it down. She breaks into a short sprint, stops, and looks down again at her feet.

“Look, Caitie, see what Lily’s doing? She’s discovering her shadow.” CB watched her sister for a minute, a broad smile crossing her face as her sister stepped and turned, peering at the little figure moving in unison on the ground. “I remember when you first discovered your shadow, Caitie. You were about her age.” Lily caught up with us, her head down, observing every motion as we entered the parking lot. “You see my shadow, Lily? Should we make our shadows hold hands?” I held my hand out and Lily took it. She shook our hands up and down. CB came over behind us and jumped up and down in the middle. “Yawoo!” she yelled, waving her arms.

I point to the three of us on the asphalt. “Hey guys, can you see? Our shadows are all the same color. Clothes, hair, skin, everything, we’re the same.” CB is holding one hand up, then another. “What’s your shadow’s name?” I pause. It had never occurred to me. “I don’t know hon, I don’t think I have ever given my shadow a name. What’s your shadow’s name?” “Hasha. She looks just like me, except that she’s my shadow.” “What about you Lily? Do you want to give your shadow a name?” Lily looks at her sister, and like she does so often, she repeats what her big sister says. “My shadow is Hasha.” CB prances across the lot. “You need to name your shadow, Daddy.”

Lily sprints over to her, and CB takes her hand. “I play a game with the other shadows, I try not to step on them. You want to play it with me?” Lily nods her head. The two of them leap and run through the shadows of the tree branches, the leaves whispering lightly in the summer evening wind, their images flitting through the upper branches of the darkened pavement, two ghost birds in flight.

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