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Mădălina Gilca participates in the “Short Prose” Section of the English Category, International Literary Creation Contest, 3rd Edition, from Chișinău, Republica Moldova and is 19 years old. We thank her for this participation and wish her success.
A Shadow for Two Tell me about the moment when the wind whispered sharp words to you. When He did not look at you. When, for the first time, the sun didn’t defend you. Why didn’t he speak to me? It seemed that all the happiness in the world was in that ray of sunshine to which he turned his head, while all I could do was silently wish for its light to touch me as consolation, pat me on the head. I had no hope of anything uniting us anymore. The same tired but strong wish remaining, why doesn’t he tell me what he’s thinking, why? - I thought about the day we saw each other, I said to him. - Why go back to the past? - Listen to me. I wish.. But to wish for something else than it was, seemed a crime against the time they spent together, an offense to the ones they were back then, the ones they are facing now. - Julian, why was the nature silent, why didn’t God interfere? I wish He had told you that you are mistaken, mistaken when you try to pull me away from you. I used to look upon the earth as a friend, a camarade in suffering, and I needed a certain something from the wind, the rain, from all of it (the wind trembled in anticipation of her calling his name, while the trees tore themselves apart from the arms of the wind). I didn’t have the courage to need anything from you. She threw her head back with a twist, parting her lips so the drops of rain would fall as if to take the place of a kiss. This reminded him of when she was little and opened her mouth with her tongue sticking out to taste raindrops and snowflakes. - If I believed in God, I would have asked Him to protect you. Listening to how you speak now, maybe He did. But he didn’t believe. God was what poor, unhappy people invented as a way to live. “If you suffer in this world, you’ll be happy in the other.” It was a story they told themselves. The truth is there is no remuneration, no salvation for anyone. Yet if God was to come to earth now, Julian knew he wouldn’t ask for His forgiveness, it would be a coward's gesture. Would she? She must have prayed for him some times. She must have prayed for everyone, so what did it matter anyway? What belonged to too many had no value in his eyes, no matter that it came from her. He remembered how she was sneaking out during those nights close to her mother’s death. One time he followed her until they reached the walls of a nearby church, but she never went inside. “I don’t feel welcomed in churches, I don’t feel at ease.” He just didn’t feel anything at all. Apart from the time she asked him to hold the golden cross around her neck to go swimming in the lake, he felt intimacy in the small object from his hand, harmony between her faith in God and her trust in him who was holding it. If she was to drown that day, he would have kept it forever. When she lost it all, he saw her crying with the cross between her teeth, a wild, tearing image. - Time will make you forget, Julian said with his eyes fixed into the abyss. - Neither I nor time will sink that low, she continued after a pause. I felt God pricking my heart with a toothpick before falling asleep. What was he searching? I don’t know. It was just some leftovers who found the strength to pray one more time. My body wrinkled under sobbing’s iron, “Please, please help me.” I still have faith, but I haven’t been praying like I used to. I didn’t hate God, but I was hurt, and even in those moments when I did talk to Him, something stopped me from making eye contact with the icon or my lips from touching it. Other times, I felt like I didn’t pray out of laziness, I would have had to form the words, to say them, to breathe in and out, to make the holy sign. It was too much. Maybe it wasn’t laziness, but helplessness. Give me your hands. - For what? - To invent your future. He didn’t wait long to amuse her. She took his hands carefully, studying his palms with the still, serious expression of a doctor examining a patient’s wound. The warmness of his hands created an unlike warmth inside of her, a strange, childish happiness tickling her heart. She imagined filling his palms with flowers, candy, fresh fruits, all sorts of small nothings that would make her feel like she was giving something to him, anything. How pleasurable it would be to just give without stopping, to let the other touch the waves of affection that were engulfing her again. It was strange that even after all this time, it wasn’t clear if they had ever reached him, who was always far away with his mind. He might have felt bits from time to time, distinguishing some kind of special fondness she expressed for him. He might have measured her affection carefully, looking for the selfishness inside of it, and where it began. But is it possible to not wish for anything from the other when you feel you give to him what you don’t give to others? Not long ago, his hands were covered in burns from an act of impulsivity, and now she was trying to imagine in them a future he didn't want. Beheaded moments lost their heads at his feet. He was cursed to pick them up. That’s why time moved so slowly when he has nothing to say. - For years now, I feel like my soul has been hospitalized, fed through feeding tubes, only the matter clumps up sometimes, and maybe it’s God who is in the corner instead of a nurse, taking care so that something reaches me. Something has been stolen from me, a key like an essential piece of puzzle has been extracted from my brain, taking all of my interests and everything I loved with it. Who is the thief and might he return in a dream, just like he left? She suddenly changed her composition from a blue, crushingly nostalgic gust of wind to a yellow flower. - Now, for your future..I see a lot of friendships that you chose to end, but someone from your past will return, someone you thought you would never see again. She will change your relationship with God. Your destiny is clean. She became stone serious again. - I want to share my shadow with you. It will guide and look over you when you need it the most. It will endure deaths that fate might have prepared for you, but can be satisfied enough with a replacement. Please take care of it. In the other world, when God will ask me where it is, this neglected part of his creation, that is walked over and run over by cars and has its voice silenced, I will tell him that it is happy serving the one I’m most fond of. Do you know any legend of the shadow? I imagine someone lost the person they loved but kept this part of them, took it walking, ate with it..Maybe the shadow is a sign that someone is still alive, gifted to a lover during wartime. Maybe this way, you will know that I am still alive, and part of me will be forever tied to you. “How can I make cowardly amends/ For what she has said to me?” - But I don’t have anything to give you in return. No, wait! I have something, he rushed his hand into his backpack, pulling out a book barely holding itself together. - I found this on a bench. It seems to be someone’s journal. I know you’ll like reading it. I haven’t got far myself, but the first page is about theater. On that day, a sacred exchange was made, one gift bringing more suffering than the other. Destiny clapped like an impatient kid in front of a dangerous, yet well meant friendship between a living person and the possessor of the diary. It was the beginning of awakening.