The Boy With No Shadow

One day in June, a boy was born who had no shadow.
His parents were amazed. They wondered if they had done something wrong. They asked the doctor how it was possible for a baby to be born without a shadow. The doctor told them that it was indeed unusual— almost unheard of— but he’d heard of a few cases, and in any event, he could see no reason why a boy without a shadow could not live a normal and productive life.
The parents named him Lucian because that seemed like the name to give to a boy who had no shadow.
When he went to school, Lucian saw that the other children all had shadows of their own. It didn’t seem fair: wherever they went, they had their shadows with them, but he was always alone. So he tried to play with the other children, but they could see that he was different. The kind children asked him questions, wondered why he didn’t have a shadow if he felt any different. Lucian said he didn’t know how it felt, because it was the only way he ever felt. He got tired of them asking him questions. He just wanted to be like them.
The less kind children just laughed. They called him names. They asked, “where’s your shadow”? And when they played their games, and they needed to shove someone’s face into the snow, it was easy to find Lucian because he had no shadows to darken the snow.
One day, Lucian made his own shadow out of black tissue paper. He glued it to the bottom of his shoes. It didn’t last long. The unkind children just laughed, and his mother shouted at him for ruining his shoes.
So Lucian didn’t enjoy school. He liked to learn things, about the names of animals and the things that happened long ago. He liked to draw and make up stories. But he never wanted to work with the other children, and that made the grown-ups wonder if maybe there was something wrong with him. They had Meetings, and asked what was wrong, and all he could say was that he wished he had a shadow and that he felt so alone.
But then he met a girl who had a shadow.
Her name was Clare. She had hair that made him think of beaches in summer, and she smelled of fruit pastilles, and everyone seemed to like her, and that didn’t seem fair at all, because it was easy to make people like you when you had a shadow. So Lucian refused to talk to her because he felt that she had somehow stolen something from him.
One day after school, Clare came up to Lucian and asked him what was wrong.
‘Why do you care?’ He asked. ‘You have a shadow. You don’t understand.’
‘Oh,’ she said, not unkindly. ‘Come with me.’
Lucian didn’t see the point, but he went anyway. He followed Clare towards the setting sun until she stopped outside the school gym.
’Stand there,’ she said, pointing.
Lucian stood there.
‘Why are we here?’ He asked.
‘Just wait a minute.’
Lucian sighed, watched as the sun disappeared behind the roof of the school.
‘Alright,’ Clare said. ‘Look behind you.’
Lucian looked down at the tarmac.
‘There’s nothing there.’
‘Look at me,’ she said.
Lucian looked. And he saw what she meant; he realised that he was normal after all.
‘See?’ Clare smiled. ‘When it’s dark, no one has a shadow.’


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