Shadow

By Hannah Wright

I was once a slave to my sight. I creased my eyes, creating crinkles of sunbeams, and got lost in the labyrinth of whorls on my fingertips. I spent hours fascinated by the face in the mirror. Pouting and preening; fluffing my feathers. I was distracted at home examining the dense perfection of a mushroom and arrived late to school, too busy causing ecstatic explosions of dandelion seeds. 

I was wandering home one day, craning my head to follow the soft arc of a rainbow when I received a call. My dog, Shadow, had been hit by a car. His once bushy brush of hair, skin and bone was there and then gone. He came home wearing a cone and would pad through the rooms of the house, head bowed. Birds perched in hedgerows were no longer a temptation and rabbits sheltering in the long grass remained undisturbed. 

We sat, muzzle to muzzle. I stared into his black watery eyes. His pain took me by surprise and I wanted to understand; to see the world through his eyes. I began to snuff the air when Shadow snuffed and strained to hear when his ears pricked up; once, I tore a piece of meat from the bone with my teeth, taking a few bites before letting it fall back onto the pavement. I sucked the marrow from bones at the dinner table and crunched on cartilage. 

I grew taller that summer and my senses sharpened. I drank in the scents of charcoal and gorse and my ears kept me awake with the sounds that chirruped through the quiet of our semi-detached suburban nighttimes. When Shadow died, on the cusp of autumn, we dug a deep hole in the garden’s soft soil and placed his small body into it. I still snuffed at the air when an unfamiliar scent crept to my nostrils. Sometimes I walked our favourite paths and nudged listlessly at the smooth-smelling soil with the toe of my boot.

Then I began to dream.

I lay in my bed, my pale skin freckled with pores that looked like craters in the dim white light. The pores grew larger and, from their depths, hairs began to sprout. I would always wake and stroke my naked skin, longing for the comfort of this absent coat. 

It was the start of a new season and I was too old for school. I began to wear a second-hand fur coat, hoping to appease this strange desire for new skin. I bought gloves and a hat; I was swathed in fur. It was the hat and the heavy coat that meant I didn’t see the approaching car and couldn’t move fast enough as I heard the sound of a blaring horn and squealing breaks.

Hannah lives in Edinburgh and works both as a digital marketer and a trapeze teacher. She writes arts reviews for The Wee Review and was accepted on to the Scottish Review of Books’ Emerging Critics scheme in 2018. Her creative writing has previously been published on Dear Damsels and as part of the Suffragette Stories online anthology. She loves writing but hates writing about herself.


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