In Torbin’s Shadow

I woke up early this morning, eager to begin my ‘10 Stories in 10 Days’ challenge. The previous night I had set my note-pad and pen upon my bedside table ready for the morning’s free writing. I wrote for 30 minutes – after around half of that time, my forearm muscles began to ache – however I pushed through until the end.

By the end of the half an hour of free writing, I had three full A4 pages at my disposal. In these three pages was much nonsense, especially in the beginning. For example:

  • ‘If time bleeds blue, is that what colours the sky?’
  • ‘In Tuscany, can only one moment of reptilian scourge of happiness, turn upside down.’
  • ‘I tried to talk to the salamanders, and I wondered what they would say, other than the usual contaminants of the soulful wailings of my mind.’

I wonder what exactly I had been dreaming about overnight; if only I could remember. As I continued with my free writing task, my thoughts began to organise and form a story about a man called Torbin. It is about him and his shadow that I have written today:

In Torbin’s Shadow

Torbin sank into his chair. The fire burned hot in the hearth. It was spring, but he always felt more comfortable in the company of a fire. He sipped his whiskey and appraised his guest. She appeared comfortable in his presence. He wondered why that was? It couldn’t possibly have been because of anything that he had done.

He felt every fibre of the fabric of his clothing nibbling away slowly at his skin. If he was ever going to say anything, now was the time. Questions lingered in the air, dripping with the blueness of time and saturated with connections to a better life. The time had come for Torbin to step out from underneath his own shadow. He was tired of being alone.

He knew that in the place of words came actions and when actions were no longer possible, we were left with our bare bones. Exposed, chalky, whittled down to nothing but the dust created by our forefathers. The constancy of anything is directly related to its ability to withstand change and Torbin had been the most resistant of subjects when it came to his shadow.

He stared at the fire and asked, “When can it ever be the right time for any of us to die?”

She didn’t answer him. Instead she threw her head back, in awe of her own existence. She had spent her life ingratiating herself into the lives of those around her and she had never felt more successful. He wanted nothing more than to learn from her. He wanted her beauty and her soul. The scars of his own childhood had left nothing to be desired and he had stretched the remainder of his soul like a delicate piece of plastic, over the tops of the empty caverns.

She placed her tumbler upon the table, “It’s time for me to go,” she uttered and she made for the door.

Torbin followed.

They stood together on the precipice and watched the light dance soulfully across the lake. Torbin saw her eyes follow the rippling of the dark water. She stepped towards it, but Torbin grasped her by the shoulders.

“You don’t need to do this,” he pleaded.

She reached for him and replied, “You don’t understand; it is I who must.”

With a swish of her wrist, she dusted his hands away and waded into the murkiness. Torbin wanted to follow, but there was something intrinsically inside of him, holding him back. She moved deeper and deeper into the darkness. Was this really the last that he would see of her?

She fell. It was then that they grabbed her. She was pulled viciously into the water. The ripples turned into waves smashing against the shore – foaming at Torbin’s feet. He could see her flailing and then suddenly she was gone. All was finally calm. The ripples had disappeared.

Torbin’s shadow had struck again. Every time he became close to anyone, they were taken away. He realised that he was destined to be alone – destined to live in his own shadow. His knees weakened. What kind of life is this? Existence, just for the sake of it, is no life at all.

The next morning Torbin awoke in a daze. The bathroom was saturated – the tub was still full. He washed the grime from his hands; hoping that his shadow had finally decided to move on. His face was pale, haggard. He walked across to his bedroom window and peered out into the backyard. The shovel leaned against the back fence and there was a new mound piled high, one more in the row of reminders of his guilty conscience.

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