The Boy's Shadow

Morning time. The good-humoured sun, with his ruddy chubby cheeks, stretches out his hand through the room's window and tenderly caresses a boy who's still asleep. The Boy is slowly waking up: he rises on the edge of the bed and he's surprised as he discovers that his Shadow is still sleeping in bed."What, you're not up yet?" the Boy says to his Shadow.The table clock with its shadow, the chair (on which a coat is hanging) and their shadows, even a book on the bookshelf and its shadow… they're all startled.The Boy: Why don't you wake up?The Shadow (stretching its sleep-longing body): I'm sleepy!The Boy: You're a sleepy shadow! (the Boy is upset and he grabs the Shadow's hand) Let me take you to the shower, this will wake you up.(The Shadow is trying to escape the firm grasp, but the Boy forcefully puts it under the enlivening water drops… everything seems to be back to normal. The now obedient Shadow is following the Boy's steps as he is getting dressed, eating something in a big hurry, and then rushes out of the house, into the street. But when the Boy turns to the right, the Shadow turns to the left.)The Shadow: That's it, from now on, we'll separate. I'm tired of following you around… I'm worth something too! You might as well remember and it shouldn't be too hard, that I'm even bigger than you are. Do you understand?The Boy: I'm trying to, but I can't. What do you mean you're leaving me? You're my Shadow!The Shadow: That's precisely why. It doesn't suit me anymore… and starting right now, that's it! I'm turning left…The Boy (sympathetic): I'm gonna turn left too…The Shadow: Then I'm turning right…The Boy (stops, angrily): OK, suit yourself! Go right ahead! The Shadow: How could I possibly go if you're stepping on my foot?... let me go!...The Boy (lifts his foot, ostentatiously): Fine, there you go!(Now liberated, the Shadow turns left on its own and doesn't look back. It runs playfully and bounces on one shadow foot, humming… a song's echo. At a street corner, a dog's shadow crosses its path and starts barking at it.)The Dog's Shadow (tensed, ready to jump at the Boy's Shadow, barking): Who are you?The Boy's Shadow: I'm a shadow, can't you see?The Dog's Shadow: You're lying! People's shadows don't just run around on the street, like stray dogs… no, you're not a shadow… (approaching threateningly) You're something else!The Boy's Shadow (scared, yammering): Don't bite me. I've got no spare clothes and I don't want to wander around with my clothes torn; the shadows might point at me… (Right there and then a Cat's Shadow appears and climbs up a Fence's Shadow. The Dog's Shadow bursts after it and starts barking furiously. The Boy's Shadow takes advantage of the situation and hides behind a Door's Shadow. It breathes, now relieved, but after a few moments it feels that someone is watching and turns around, profoundly scared. Indeed, a Gun's Shadow is threateningly pointing at the Boy's Shadow).The Gun's Shadow: Hands up!The Boy's Shadow: Don't shoot, please, don't shoot! I have no evil thought…I swear!The Gun's Shadow: Then why are you hiding out here, like a shadow?The Boy's Shadow: Well, I am a shadow…The Gun's Shadow (moving around, examining it): Are you sure you're a shadow? I've never seen shadows walking around on the streets!... Don't you have any friends? Hmm! I think you realized that I'm a toy gun's shadow and you're lying to me. I'm out of here!(Relieved once again, the Boy's Shadow bolts from behind the door, runs on the sidewalk, turns to a busy street and tries to lose itself among the shadows of the people passing by.)The Boy's Shadow (detaching itself from the other shadows, talking to a Little Girl's shadow): Pssst! Pssst! Would you like to talk to me?The Little Girl's Shadow (upset): I don't talk to stranger shadows on the street…The Boy's Shadow: But I'm the shadow of a good boy myself. Look at me carefully.The Little Girl's Shadow: I'm doing just that, but I don't understand anything… you're a sad and lonely shadow. (It leaves hastily)The Boy's Shadow: It's true, I do feel sad, because it's not easy to be alone in the world. (Around it, countless shadows of all types start moving. The Boy's Shadow seems to be frozen in bewilderment) But I'm not alone at all… I'm such a stupid shadow! Who will tell, in this throng, that I'm alone? And then, when in need, I could catch at somebody, like a shadow, and no one will ask for explanations…(It's getting dark outside and everything and everyone, followed by their shadows, are heading for their homes, looking like they intentionally leave the Boy's Shadow behind. And then, unexpectedly, the black Shadow of the Night approaches)The Night's Shadow: What's with you, my daughter?The Boy's Shadow: Daughter? Where did you get that? I have no mother and no father!The Night's Shadow (approaching): Then, maybe, that's why…The Boy's Shadow: What do you mean?The Night's Shadow: It's the first time I see a shadow alone. And believe me, I'm pretty experienced in these matters…. go home!The Boy's Shadow: Alone? I'm scared…The Night's Shadow: I surely believe you. Shadows can't walk alone on the street… give me your hand's shadow. I'll walk you home…The Boy (stepping out of the night's darkness): No, I will!(He starts walking on the street lighted by a lamp. The Shadow follows him obediently. As the Boy approaches the lamp, his Shadow gets smaller, until it confounds itself with the Boy's silhouette.) A graduate of Psychology and Pedagogy, Iuliu RAŢIU has written stories, travel notes, essays, novels, plays, and poetry for children and teenagers (Teenager's Planet, Good-Bye Prince Charming, Who May Be Prince Charming?, The Electronic Lizard, The Invisible Child, The Sugar Kingdom, The Robots' Revenge, Harry Potter's Rivals, Hopscotch across Meridians, etc.), and an ample History of Children's and Teenagers' Literature.

by Iuliu Raţiu (1930-2009)