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if I didn’t keep my mouth shut; I was becoming a shadow more and more each day. I kept the phone in my coat pocket. It was dead. But I wanted to keep it in case he tried to call me, and wanted to talk some more. I needed to hear how my life was going now that I was out of the picture. He never did, though. A few days passed. No one noticed me. I started to wonder if anyone had noticed me before all this. Maybe people like me were shadows from the beginning. I spent most of my days thinking, then. I had nothing else to do with myself. Finally, he came. He wore some of my clothes, but they were cleaner, shinier. As if all the dirt I had thrown across them over the years had never happened. He didn’t look real, up close. He looked like a life-size doll of myself, with plastic skin and molded, pressed hair to bright, too luminous to be mine. “Still alive, Dan?” he asked me, smiling. His teeth were as straight as his collar. “Just haven’t been feeling myself, lately.” I said. He laughed. “That’s good,” he said, extending his hand out to me. I took it, and he pulled me to my feet. I stood as straight as I could, but still felt wobbly. My bones had melted from sitting and sleeping all day. My kneecaps were jelly, and my muscles like balsa wood. “Amy and Jacob come next week.” He said, brushing the dirt off of my jacket. I tried to nod and show some interest, some happiness for him. I tried to accept what was coming. “The job’s going good, just picked up my first paycheck. Not much, but I’ll need the money pretty soon.” “This is the end, Dan.” He said, gently squeezing my shoulder. “I’m taking the life. You’ve gotta go.” “I know,” I said. “I’m a shadow now.” “No,” he shook his head, “I used to be a shadow. You’re a memory.” I winced. “That’s harsh.” I said. He laughed again, taking his hand off my shoulder. He stood, not smiling so much as just acknowledging me. It was good to feel acknowledged again, even if it was only for a minute. “I wish I could look back and say that I had a good run.” I said, looking at the ground. “Wish I had something pleasant to cling to.” “Don’t worry about it.” He said. “I’m taking care of things. You can go now.” I started to feel light. I hadn’t eaten in so long that lately it felt like barbs were sticking inside my ribs. But this feeling was new. f i ff i e l d

Centripetal Volume 12 Issue 1  

Volume 12 Issue 1--Fall 2010