Sally was always described as a ‘strange girl’, by people at school, by her own mother, and often by the few friends that she had carefully selected, based on their few good traits that Sally had noted. The school bell rang out, loud and shrill causing Sally to jump and shudder.
“What’s wrong with you now?” huffed her favourite friend Lily.
“Nothing!” Sally snapped back. “I just don’t like the bell that’s all, you can’t pretend that horrible alarm that forces us back into that prison is nice!?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “What are you going on about now? It made you jump, I saw you. Honestly, you're scared of your own shadow!”
“What?! I am NOT scared of my own shadow! I just want it stop following me, that’s all!” Sally turned around with her nose in the air and stormed off up the steps and through the main doors.
Lily let out a weak sigh and walked after her strange friend, not attempting to hurry to catch up with her. She was used to Sally’s little dramas, day after day. It was only yesterday that Sally started screaming at her mother for not keeping the garden tidy. Sally wanted to show Lily the bats that swooped around in her garden every evening, but was annoyed at the amount of leaves on the grass. True to Sally’s nature, she was not going to let the audacious leaves ruin the ariel display that she promised to her favourite friend. After letting her mother know that she was sorely disappointed in her domestic duties, she went into the house and came out moments later with the vacuum cleaner. She then proceeded to vacuum the lawn, much to Lily’s dismay.
Lily reached the science lab and sat next to Sally, whom was still visibly annoyed.
“Pssst…Oi!” Lily whispered next to Sally’s ear. Sally didn't flinch until she felt Lily staring at her.
The eyes boring into the side of Sally’s face was too much for her to bear, so she turned to face her friend, whom was displaying the most ridiculous, contorted face an inch away from her own. Sally burst out laughing, causing the class to turn around and look at her, including her teacher.
“Is there something you find funny Miss Green?”
Sally stifled her laughter and looked around at the bemused faces staring at her.
“Uh, no Mr. Witchard, sorry Sir” she stammered out, as she turned a rosy shade of pink.
“Okay then, on with the class” Mr. Witchard said as he pushed his glasses up between his unimpressed eyes.
Sally turned to Lily with a little smile and whispered “Silly Lily” as she elbowed her in the ribs.
Lily let out a quiet wail of discomfort, causing a few girls in the row in front to peer around and stare again. Lily looked down at her text book in embarrassment as Sally stifled another rising laugh.
The classroom fell into a barrage of low muttering as Mr. Witchard bumbled around in his cupboard, before emerging a moment later with a small silver tray and a suspicious white cloth on the top of it.
He gently placed the tray down on the work bench at the front, and rubbed his hands together before addressing the class.
“Today class, we will be taking an in-depth look at the anatomical form!”
He then swiftly lifted the white cloth to reveal a dissected rat, laying on its back with its sliced belly neatly stretched open to reveal it’s perfect-looking miniature organs.
The classroom gasped in unison as they all rushed over to gawp at the specimen on the morbid silver platter. Sounds of amazement and disgust flew around the room, much to Mr. Witchard’s amusement.
Lily looked over at Sally, who’s eyes were wide with horror. Sally stood up with such force that her stool loudly screeched back, and announced “NO NO NO! This is UNACCEPTABLE!!!”
She grabbed her bag and marched out of the classroom, leaving Lily with an audience of judgemental eyes on her again.
“Uh, sorry Sir, I’ll go and see if she’s alright” Lily said meekly as she picked up her bag and scrambled out of the classroom. She could see Sally running down the hallway so she ran after her.
“Sally! Wait!” she called out as she reached the main doors, to see Sally running out of the school gates. It was too late, Sally had left, probably to go home and tell her mum how disgusting everyone at school was, so Lily turned back and threw her bag over her shoulder, reluctantly plodding back to class.
Sally was now wildly running down the street with tears welling up in her eyes. She stopped by a tree on the roadside to wipe her tears away, and looked down at the ground in disdain. She caught sight of her shadow, mimicking her posture as she leant against the tree. Sally shifted her weight and stood upright, watching the shadow as it copied her every movement.
Sally considered her shadow for a moment, before heading off down the street towards her house. She looked down at the black figure, attached to her feet and stretching out along the path. She stopped dead in her tracks and continued to stare at the faceless being before looking up and starting to walk again. This time when Sally stopped walking, she looked down and put her hands on her hips.
“Would you just stop following me!” She huffed angrily as she took a few more steps, before stopping to look down again. “I mean it! I don’t want to here, GO. AWAY!”
Sally looked up and noticed the man across the road watching her.
“WHAT?!” she yelled at him, causing the man to turn away and hurry off.
She looked down at her shadow again to see it was still there, in the exact same position. Sally grumbled and stamped her foot. “LEAVE ME ALONE!” she shouted.
This time, the shadow took a step away from Sally without her moving an inch. This unusual movement didn’t seem to surprise Sally at all and she simply said “Go on then..” in her flat, emotionless tone. The shadow shrugged its shoulders and raised its hands in confusion.
“GO!” Sally boomed.
Her shadow slumped its shoulders back down and turned around to walk the other way. It paused and turned back with one raised hand this time. Sally turned her head defiantly and kept it there for a few seconds. She then slowly peeked around and watched her shadow walk off in the opposite direction.
Sally slowly blinked and gave herself a little satisfied nod, and continued to walk to her house. When she got home, she walked through the front door to find her mother in the hallway, watering the plants.
“Sally, what are you doi…”
Sally cut her mother off mid-sentence by holding out the palm of her hand in front of her face, and walked upstairs to her room without saying a word. Her mother let out a defeated sigh and carried on watering the plants.
The next day at school, Sally questioned Lily about Mr Witchard’s dire performance.
“So, you went back did you?” she asked disapprovingly.
“I had to didn’t I! I didn’t have to join in though, you could of sat it out like me and the some of theothers” Lily looked at Sally’s mocking face. “You didn’t have to run away” she mumbled grumpily.
“And stay in the same room as those vile monsters, no thank you.” Sally retorted.
“Well, whatever! You don’t have to be such a martyr all the time” Lily replied defensively and stood up from the lunch table to go and finish her apple outside.
“I’m not!” Sally whined after her. “Not all the time” she added quietly.
Sally sat there on her own and looked around at the groups of laughing friends, enjoying their lunch. She scanned the tables and noticed a girl that had noticed her staring. The girl turned back to her friends and whispered something, triggering the other girls to giggle and look around at Sally. Sally shamefully looked down and quickly gathered her things. She shoved everything in her back carelessly and slung it over her shoulder before heading out of the canteen.
When Sally reached the main doors, she stepped outside and squinted up at the sun. She looked down at the ground and noticed a crowd of shadows waiting there at the side. She curiously fixated on them and watched how each shadow would attach itself to it’s human when they exited through the main doors and stepped into the sun.
She sat down on one of the steps and watched as each shadow rejoined it’s owner, until the loud, shrill bell kicked in. The last few student’s ran out of the doors and joined their shadows, until no more shadows were left. Sally sat there glumly until a couple of chatting teachers walked through the doors and stopped to speak to her.
“Sally, aren’t you supposed to be in class?” Mrs. Postlethwaite asked expectantly.
Sally remained silent.
“Sally, are you okay?” she asked again. Sally looked up at the teachers and recoiled in distaste as she spotted Mr. Witchard stood next to her.
“After your little stunt, it’s amazing I’m not still puking!” Sally replied dramatically.
“Sally! You didn’t have to participate” he replied gently.
Sally looked up at him in disgust and let out a repulsed “Ughhh!” before standing up and walking off towards the English block.
Mr. Witchard sighed and said “Strange girl..” as he shook his head.
“Yes, she does dance to her own tune that one” Mrs. Postlewaite replied pensively.
For the rest of the afternoon, Sally kept her head down and didn’t speak to anyone, not even Lily. She had never felt so relieved to hear the school bell at the end of the day.
As Sally walked home, she noticed a shadow sat on the ground by the tree that she had stopped at yesterday. She looked around to see that the shadow had no owner, and took a moment to realised that it must of been hers.
“You’re here! I’m so sorry!” she gushed as she ran over to it.
The shadow stood up and took a step back.
“But…I’m sorry! I want you to walk with me now” she said desperately.
The shadow shook its head and walked off down the street. Sally’s eyes widened in panic as she ran after it.
“Please! Wait!” she called out, to be met with the shadow turning back and shooing her away.
“I’m sorryyyy!!” she wailed.
The shadow forcefully pointed in the opposite direction to which it was walking, and stormed off.
Sally ignored the shadow’s orders and kept following it until they reached a shaded tree-lined lane, a few streets from her house. The shadow stopped half way along the lane and waited there for Sally. When Sally had caught up, she asked the shadow “Please can we be together again?”
The shadow pointed to a dark patch of undergrowth, in between the gnarled tree roots and shrubbery that lined the path.
“In there?!” Sally asked with a concerned frown.
The shadow nodded and turned to face the undergrowth. It stepped into the black patch and merged into the other shadows, disappearing before Sally’s shocked eyes.
Sally gulped and trepidatiously dipped the tip of her foot into the black patch, and felt it melt into the abyss. She panicked and frantically jerked her foot back, and suddenly heard laughter from the end of the lane. She glanced over to see a gang of kids joking around together. Sally watched them for a moment, and let out a sad, deep sigh. She turned back and walked into the darkness, never to be seen again.