Tag: shadow

Charlie’s Room: Missed Opportunity

Charlie was waiting by the door when Isaac got home. Before the door closed behind him, Charlie had already hurried forward and was waving a sheet of paper half an inch from his nose. “Dad, look at this!”

Isaac leaned back and took the paper. “Careful. I don’t want a paper cut on my nose.” He looked over the paper. “Is this the club list for next year?”

Charlie nodded. “It’s time to pick the club we want to be in after school next year, but we can only pick one.”
“Are you having a hard time choosing which one you want?”

“Yeeeeees.” Charlie sighed. “Mom says I should just pick whatever club my friends are in. But I have lots of friends, and they all want to be in different clubs.”

Isaac handed the paper back to Charlie and changed his shoes. “Are there any clubs you don’t want to join?”

“I don’t want the art club or the running club,” Charlie said, looking at the paper.

“Let’s get a pencil and lightly cross those out.” Isaac went through the living room to the alcove where his desk sat between the living room and kitchen. He took a pencil from the drawer and handed it to Charlie.

Together they traced their steps back to the living room. Isaac sat on the couch. Next to him, Charlie knelt in front of the coffee table and set his paper down. He looked through the list and crossed out the two clubs.

“What next?” Charlie asked.

“Tell me what you like about the other choices.”

Charlie held up the paper. “Hmmmm. I like the cooking club because I like to help you and Mom cook. And maybe we’ll get to eat what we make. I think the computer club plays video games sometimes. The board game club would just be fun. And the Lego club? I love Legos. And did you see that there’s a dinosaur club?”

“It sounds like there are a lot of fun choices.”

Charlie set the paper down with a sigh. “Too many. Why can’t I do more than one?”

Isaac laughed. “Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes you have to make choices when all options sound good.”

“But how do you choose?”

“That’s really up to you.” Isaac picked up the paper and looked at it. “Maybe you could pick something you don’t get to do at home. Learning something new can be fun.”

Charlie took the list back. “I guess I already belong to a dinosaur club. And my dinosaur club is the best club ever. I can ask my friends what they do in the school club, and if they have any good ideas, then I can just copy them.” Charlie crossed out the dinosaur club.

“Good plan. What else?”

“We can cook the cooking club recipes at home. And play the same games. I can play with Legos whenever I want.” Charlie began crossing more things off.

Isaac looked over his shoulder. “Well done. There aren’t many options left.”

“If I sign up for band, I’d need to get an instrument.” Charlie’s pencil hovered over band.

“We could do that,” Isaac said.

“But if I sign up for band, I can’t be in the robotics club.” Charlie frowned. “Dad, did you ever have to make a decision like this?”

Isaac thought for a moment. “Once I had a friend who lived far away on an island. He wanted me to come visit, but I knew it was kind of hard to travel there and back. I was worried about getting home if I went, so I never visited.”

“Never?” Charlie looked surprised. “But how was that choosing between two good things?”

“I stayed home, and I was safe,” Isaac said.

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “That’s not the same thing at all. He looked back at his paper. If I choose band, could I play the clarinet?”

“Of course you can,” Isaac said. “I think that’s a great choice. Why don’t you go let your mom know, and I’ll start checking the ads for used clarinets.”

Charlie grinned and ran out of the room. His shadow broke into two figures as he left the room, and one figure stayed behind. It put its hands on its hips.

“Hi, Peter,” Isaac said.

“I heard you telling a story about me,” Peter said. “But you made it so boring. You’ve gotten so old, Isaac.”

Isaac grinned. “And you’re so little now. Remember when I was shorter than you?”

Peter laughed. “You were tiny. Now you’d fit in with the pirates. Do you want me to see if they have an opening?”

“No, thank you.”

“You’re missing out. We have a lot of fun.”

Isaac looked around the living room. “We have a lot of fun here too. I think I’ll choose to stay here again.”

The shadow shrugged its shoulders. “If that’s what you want.” The shadow slowly disappeared. Isaac took out his phone and started to search for a used clarinet.

Charlie’s Room: The Shadow Cat

Isaac returned to work after a long weekend. He felt rather tired. It would be nice to have an extra day to just rest. Of course, if he had another day off, he probably would fill it up with more things-to-do and be even more tired.

He smiled at the thought and reached down to open his desk drawer and retrieve some forms. A smokey black paw reached out of the drawer and batted away his hand. The drawer snapped shut.

Isaac scooted his chair back and looked at the drawer. It looked just like it always had. He crouched down and examined the outside of his desk. There weren’t any obvious ways for anything with paws that big to climb inside.

What was it and how did it get in his desk?

Isaac slowly pulled the drawer open a crack and peered inside. Golden eyes peered back. There was a black cat in his desk drawer. It had whiskers and paws and a tail and little triangular ears like any other cat, but there was one difference. He could see right through it.

He pulled the drawer open a little more. When the light hit the cat, it disappeared completely. He reached into the drawer and flipped through the files inside. There was no cat. He took out the forms he needed and closed the drawer again.

As he straightened up, he saw something move off to the side of his desk. He turned and looked down. Everything looked normal. Maybe he’d just seen his shadow change as he sat up. He was about to turn back to his work, when he saw gold eyes blink from the middle of his shadow.

There was no cat attached to the eyes. Had it somehow melded into his shadow? Was it some sort of shadow cat? The eyes blinked again.

He probably scared it when he opened his drawer. Maybe it came into the office at night, and hid in his desk when the lights came on. It might need a safe place to wait for dark, but he did need his desk drawer for work.

Luckily, he had a shelf of binders full of old information he needed to save for his records but never actually used. He moved his wastebasket under his desk, and then he piled the binders next to the corner into two stacks to make a drawer-sized well. Then he balanced one on top to make a roof.

Isaac leaned over the binder house so that his shadow was inside. He waited a moment or two and then sat down. He looked at his shadow. Golden eyes blinked back. That hadn’t worked.

He’d try again later. Maybe the cat was too scared or tired for shadow hopping right now. So, he might as well fill out the forms he needed while he waited.

Isaac typed and calculated and wrote reports and filled out forms. Soon enough, it was lunchtime. He stood and stretched. He shadow stretched too, and golden eyes watched him from his shadow’s heart.

Isaac sat back down. He couldn’t go to the break room. The lights there were much brighter and came from multiple directions. They’d completely erase his shadow, and what would that do to the shadow cat? Would it disappear too?

He took his lunch out to eat at his desk. As he picked up his sandwich, a bite disappeared before he could eat it. The shadow cat must be eating the sandwich’s shadow. Isaac set his sandwich in a pool of light on his desk.

It wasn’t that he minded sharing, but if the cat was eating shadows, would any shadows do? If so, he would be happy to feed the cat first and then enjoy his lunch too. Isaac took out a sheet of paper and some scissors and started to cut out fish shapes.

He held up one of the shapes next to his shadow. Bites began to disappear. Soon, the paper fish was gone. He held up a second fish and a third. A paw batted the fourth from his hand. His shadow started purring.

Isaac grinned and ate his sandwich. He leaned over and reached out, just above the golden eyes looking up at him, and tried to pet his shadow. He could almost feel where the air was thicker, like mist. The purring continued.

When it was time to turn in his paperwork, he stood next to the binder house and coaxed the shadow cat inside with promises to return. He left, made copies, turned things in and gathered more work to do. He checked his shadow several times, but there were no yellow eyes staring back.

But when he returned to his desk and passed the binder house, he felt something lightly hit his shoulder. He looked down. Golden eyes looked back.

“Are you planning on coming home with me?” Isaac asked.

The golden eyes blinked.

“You’re welcome to come, if that’s what you want.”

Isaac finished a rather boring work day and returned home. At dinner, he ate twice as fast as normal. “You must be hungry today,” Marianne said. “Did you have a hard day?”

“I’m just sharing my dinner with my shadow,” Isaac said.

Charlie laughed. “Shadows don’t eat.”

Isaac just smiled. And that evening, when he sat down at the edge of his bed, he felt paws bat at his ankles. He took a ball of yarn from his pocket that he’d picked up from the craft closet, and he tossed it under the bed. He heard a soft thumping sound.

He looked under the bed. In the darkest corner, he could just barely see a black cat wrapped around a ball of yarn. Isaac smiled. He’d always wanted a cat.

Isaac’s Adventures Underwater: Chapter Fifteen

Isaac led the octopus down to the beach. “Thank you for your assistance,” the octopus said. “Now let’s swim around to the other side of the island. It will be easier for you to get to the next island on your map from there.”

“I don’t swim very well in the ocean,” Isaac admitted. “The waves get me all mixed up. I’m not really a strong swimmer to begin with. That’s why I need help getting to the next island.”

The octopus tapped his glass helmet. “I understand. I have a hard time getting around on land.” He looked out at the waves. “As exciting as discovery is, I suppose it’s best to be practical when we have a task to complete.”

Isaac looked out at the ocean, and then back at the octopus. “What do you mean?”

The octopus looked back at Isaac. “Isn’t it obvious? I’ll take the sea route and you take the land route. I have no doubt that I’ll reach the other side of the island before you. But have no fear, that will only give me time to arrange a solution to your difficulty.”

That made sense. “Thank you. I’ll see you there.”

The octopus scurried into the waves and disappeared. Isaac turned around. Which way to go? Right or left? It didn’t really matter. Both ways would take him there eventually.

But which was the easier path? He’d like to get there quickly. The path to the right was rocky and steep, but it was also shady at this time of day, which would be nice.

Isaac looked to the left. The path was shallow and flat and very sunny. It would be a much easier path to follow. Did that mean it would take longer to get there? He didn’t really want to spend any longer in the sun than he had to.

Easy and sunny or difficult and shady? Which one was longer? On the map, they looked the same. Isaac looked right, and then he looked left. And then he chose the right. It looked more difficult and less traveled-by, but the shade made all the difference. Too much sun gave him a headache.

Isaac picked his way carefully through the rocks, humming a tune to himself. The shady path grew darker as he walked around the side of the hill that led up to the sisters’ house. Sunlight filtered through the bushes high overhead and left dappled patterns at the edge of the path.

The wind blew and the bushes made a whispering sound. The patches of sunlight on his right danced. “Twinkle, twinkle, little sunbeams. How I wish I had some ice cream,” he sang to himself. He almost expected someone to join in, but the path was quiet except for the whisper of the wind.

Soon enough, Isaac was rounding the far end of the path and stepping back into the sunlight. The octopus was waiting on the beach. “You are fortunate,” he said.

“Good! Why?”

The octopus waved an arm towards the water. It looked like there was a trail of things floating out there. “I was able to communicate with both my fellow octopodes and a traveling bale of turtles. We’ve built you a bridge.”

Isaac looked back at the water. He couldn’t see a bridge. “Is it invisible?”

“Of course not. Maybe you don’t see well at a distance. My research on human sight is rather limited. Try walking a little closer.” He made shooing motions with his noodley arms.

Isaac walked closer to the water. Up close, he could see that the floating things were bits of driftwood and turtles, all lined up, making a sort of path out to sea. “That’s the bridge?” Isaac was pretty sure he was too heavy to walk on a turtle bridge.

“Oh good, you can see it now. Well, hop on!” The octopus waded into the waves.

Isaac followed him into the water and looked back. High above, he could see a wall of rosebushes. He turned back and swam towards the first bit of driftwood. Two octopuses were holding it in place, one on each end.

Isaac’s friend, still wearing his glass helmet, helped him climb up. Cautiously, Isaac stepped onto a large log. The octopuses behind him swam away with the driftwood. So far so good.

The turtle treading water ahead of him was waiting patiently. It was a big turtle, but it didn’t really look large enough to carry his weight. “Are you okay?” it asked.

“Just a little nervous,” Isaac said.

“No worries, then. Just a quick step and you’ll be onto the next. If you go quickly, you won’t even notice you’re not on land.”

“But won’t that make me more likely to fall?”

The turtle laughed. “I guess it depends on how good your balance is.”

“Just hurry up and go,” the octopus on Isaac’s right said. “We can’t hold you in place much longer like this.”

“Take it at a run,” the octopus on the left said. “On your mark, get set, go!”

Isaac started running.