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Your Shadow

posted Feb 25, 2016, 4:32 AM by Noa Shmueli

You were always in my life, although you weren’t. Lurking in the black-and-white photos, where you and Maddie looked so happy together. You both are wearing sunglasses, and you were smiling, and you looked so handsome and young. But Maddie’s bitter tales tell another story completely, and I flip the page and see how in the next photos, you are not there but Maddie is, with a swollen belly. How you never replied to letters or answered the desperate voice mails. How you weren’t there for me as a father, when you should’ve been.

But that was years ago, and you are just a silhouette - a silky shadow that visits unsleeping nights. The wind is spiteful today, hissing through the hollow gaps between its biting teeth, flicking its tongues through stinging faces; this is what it must have felt like as your studded belt slipped out of its confining hoops and delivered blow after stinging blow, and pleasured in Maddie’s muffled screams. Muffled by your stinking socks, reeking of beer-and-peanuts, and the scent of another woman.

The stumbling way back is no less painful, as drops as huge as your ego splatter, as painful as your egotistical self hurt Maddie, caused the bruises on her arms that never fade, that make her wear those stifling long sleeved shirts … the permanent nicks on her cheeks. And the realization hits. She was my mother. My Mother.

Home, at last. The lights are switched off. An early moon shines through. It casts an unnatural light, and twisting shadows where one of our windows is shattered, broken glass. And an outline of your too-tight jeans, the massive belt. The stumpy legs that always were too straight, the broad shoulders; the defined, muscular chin. I look back quickly, nobody is there. Just your shadow.

Literally paralysed. Two lungs have stopped working. Not just because you’re there, oh no, but because your silhouette is carrying a thin gun. Very clearly, your shadow raises a finger and drags it across your neck.

Then the arms of your shadow reach out and grab me, but my legs are moving through the air while you swing me across to the wall. Then your shadow disappears.

And all that is left is your belt, the gun, and a stinking, rotten sock.