Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Story of a little Girl and her Shadow

Hi all!

Long time no see! I've had this story with me since primary school but it was never developed. This full story took a little while in the making and perhaps is not as innocent as the first version, but nevertheless, Its now here for recordal purposes. So I hope you guys enjoyed it too.


This is the story of a little girl and her shadow. But well, it became the story of the girl and her shadow because of the little girl and her weight. You see, this girl is, to put a nice ring to it, plump. Mean boys in her school have called her fat. Meaner girls have called her ‘obese’, after learning this word during Health education.

But the minimum that anyone could say, when pressed to describe something about her, will say plump, or chubby.

She was sent to the Trim-And-Fit club in school, where they made her run and do squats every recess. And the teacher eyes the bowl of soup noodles which she bought, making certain there’s no meat but full of veggies.

Please half the portion of your noodles, honey.

Tapping her feet, the teacher spaces out from her standing view of the bunch of ‘fatties’ (her word) settling down to eat meatless soup noodles, wondering how she’s going to get her trim student numbers up by next month.

The world is not nice when you don’t look nice.

Our heroine, was of course, someone who knows that, but is, as most kids her age (9 yrs old), was unable to do anything about it. Therefore, a personality and habit of not caring much, of pretending to turn the deaf ear to the mean boys and meaner girls, of eating more during dinner to make up for the lackluster recess, grew like a mushroom in her. And like those mushroom that huddled beneath tree trunks, she was quiet and unobtrusive and reads a lot- a veritable bookworm.

Because when she reads, she disappears. Goodbye, she’d say to the world, to her mum (who was busy cooking usually, or burping her infant brother), then retreat into another place. She’d pop back when time came for dinner.

So actually, perhaps this is not just a story about a girl and her weight, which became the story of a girl and shadow, but actually the story of a girl and her disappearances.

So, don’t be impatient. I’ll now go straight to the point now we have deciphered her like a scalpel running through skin.

On the way to and from school was a route that takes her through a lonely roadside path littered with street lamps. It was a relatively peaceful place about 20 years ago, which was when the story happened. After a tough session in the TAF club (the teacher upped the number of squats) and her tummy growling, our heroine was uncharacteristically cranky.

As her feet prattles past the street lamps, she kept her head down, watching her shadow shift from behind her feet to the front and elongating as she walked further from one street lamp, then disappearing.

As she approached the next street lamp, her shadow, forever trapped at her feet, casted a long figure behind her, slowly becoming shorter and shorter until she is right beneath the lamp.

Now the shadow becomes a round ball. She was sure if she stood straight up, her shadow would be perfectly round. Disgusting! She thought in disgust. Urggh! Ugly ugly!

She peered past her skirt. Her shadow obliged by growing a small bump where her head was. Her shadow laughs, she’s now a snowman!

She stamped her feet angrily and only got her toes stubbed for her pains. Her shadow is not even bruised.

Our heroine burst into tears. I’m only 9, dammit (her elder brother taught her that)! I’m supposed to be having an adventure! I’m supposed to have 3 siblings and a dog! And my parents are supposed to be explorers lost in a plane crash and all 5 of us are stranded on an island trying to run away from bad guys tracking us down for our inheritance!
A breeze swept through the roadside, causing the trees to sigh in sympathy. She is all alone with the breeze and her shadow and the endless street lamps that curve round the bend.

Stupid girl, her shadow said. You aren’t that bad. Just walk forward. And without much further ado, her shadow propelled her away from beneath the lamp.

Immediately, her shadow lengthened. Every step the bumps softened and merged into a line. Her shadow narrowed and became taller, the roundness disappeared. Our heroine stopped at where she thought gave her shadow the best shape and adjusted her feet till it was just right.

Wow….she thought, I look just like XXX (who was the meanest girl in class, and also the slimmest, smartest……).

How about that, said her shadow. One day, you will look like this. Maybe not now, not tomorrow, but eventually, you will grow to be how I am now. I’m you, I am a part of you, so I know what I’m talking about. Trust me, trust yourself.

Our heroine considered.

And here is where she splits into two.


In one, our heroine decides to trust her shadow and therefore herself, dried her tears and went home for dinner. For the first time, she did not ask for second helpings and helped her mum mop the kitchen after. This continued for the rest of her growing years.

She became more open while the taunts became less until it was clear if anyone ever tease her about her weight, it was due to mere jealousy and does not hold much….. weight. Her mum naturally became delighted that her daughter seemed a lot more pro-active than before. One who begun taking an interest in looking after her little brother and fought back with the older brother. She even dumped her library activities and joined a sports club. A definite improvement, although she remained a bookworm and read prolifically, she maintained her ‘goodbyes’ too before retreating to her room.

The only peculiar thing she noticed was that her daughter now had a habit of staring at the ground whenever she went and checking the floor behind her, especially where there is light. And sometimes, just sometimes, she appeared a little… thin…, not thin as in her figure, although she was never as plump as she was before, but thin like a bad TV image…More like, her mum decided…flat…

One day, as she walked pass her daughter’s room, she decided to take a peek. Like all mothers, she gave the perfunctory knock, but immediately opened the door, hoping to catch the last known action of the roomer before they discovered they were being watched.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Her daughter’s last known action was reading on the bed. A bad habit that her mum knew never left her. Then her daughter sprang up from the bed and gave a reproachful look, while she gave an inane reason and apologized profusely while nagging her to read properly at her desk. She closed the door and giggled. Her calm daughter caught unawares is something she has not seen in a while. Then she frowned, she was prepared to discount precisely what she thought she saw, but she did thought she saw a definite flicker, like static, running through her daughter just when she opened the door.

The mother, who was once also a prolific reader and full of imaginations before reality caught up in a spin of babies and daily trips to the market and cooking, gave a shrug. Her daughter gave a ready smile as much as any normal child and if she appeared a little more calm than the next, a logical mum was also prepared to discount this little bit of musing for a lot of peace and quiet.

There was a crash and a loud wail. She hurried back to the living room, the past image erased.

And the first half-story ends with our heroine growing up as normal as can be, if a little spacey from time to time and taken to smiling at her shadow. Her shadow and her are in agreement although they were not whole, a regrettable outcome because of the split.


In the other half story, our heroine considered her perfectly shaped shadow and decided the opposite.

‘I wish I would look like you now.’ She said to her shadow.

You don’t trust me? Her shadow was hurt.

‘I’m 9. I’m supposed to be impatient. Won’t you help me? It would solve all my problems.’ Our heroine pleads. She is aware that something big is going on in the background, but like a fountain that never stops, it was not possible to hear it clearly or even know it exist until it does and the silence reigns.

You don’t know what you are wishing for.

‘But I do! I want the teasing to stop. I want to graduate from the TAF club. I don’t want to be the ‘plump one’ in my family anymore. In fact, why am I talking to myself? And why are you replying?’

Our heroine’s eyes glowed. ‘Is this some sort of alternative universe I’m always reading about? Is there a secret doorway in the lamp post or is it really a wardrobe in disguise and a tiny fairy is going to open it and peep out?’

Our heroine (who is getting less heroic by the minute) waited a moment for the shadow to answer, but the shadow remained silent.

‘But what I want to know is,’ she spoke slowly, ‘Can you really help me? You say I don’t know what I am wishing for, but does that mean I can really make one and it will come true?’ and waited again.

The trees sighed, swaying a little. Faraway, the squaw of a crow cut through the little bubble of silence, but she did not hear it. She understood that she was locked in a Moment, as far as a 9 year old can understand.

Her shadow finally sighed like the trees and explained.

Look, everyone knows alternate universes exist, like the border between life and death, the split in time between choices. Their entrance is both far away and yet gossamer thin.

Our heroine nods, she has read about it too.

An alternate universe did indeed form, her shadow continues, but this one is inside you, your emotions, your musings, your hope and your despairs, whenever you escape somewhere inside yourself.

The little girl frowns. This is a little beyond her.

Think about it, the shadow continues. Did you not feel the lack of the passing of time when you are deeply reading? When a painter paints, he is lost in his alternate world until earthly desires like hunger takes him back. When a student takes his exam, his alternate universe includes both time and whatever knowledge he packs in there and protects him, if he is prepared, from fear and visions of failure.

I have always been an external part of you, intangible, but a part of you nevertheless. Possibly it is the moon, which is full tonight, or the tides, or the alignment of the galaxies and the planets, but whatever it is, this universe has now projected beyond you and now includes me. Beats me why I can converse with you now.

The shadow turns it eyeless face towards her. Or why, if you wish, so you can have what you want just for tonight.

Our heroine’s heart leapt. ‘Really?’ she gasped. ‘Then, shadow, grant me my wish! Let me look like you!’ she spread her hands out, noting that her shadow did the same, except that her shadow’s arms are slimmer and longer and more elegant. Piano fingers.

Please don’t.

‘Grant me.’ She focused. She felt she could see the boundary where her universe was. A thin silver line that formed a dome, encapsulating her and her shadow. The shadow writhed as if pain, but like pain that does not transcend from her stubbed toe to the shadow, the experience was unable to connect to her body. At once, she felt herself slowly stretching and laughed.

It worked! She gazed at her stubby fingers in wonder as they became piano fingers. She felt her body started to stretch and she grew taller. Her tummy narrowed and lengthened. All the while, the buzzing white noise at the edge of her consciousness became louder, more urgent.

She stopped laughing. Something is wrong. Her piano fingers kept elongating and thinning. The stretching seemed endless. Her belly button is starting to hurt now that it’s a long long oval. She saw that as she grew, her shadow got bigger too underneath the lamp light.

With horror, she realized that her wish won’t let her stop growing. Her body and her shadow fed off each other like 2 mirrors facing one another.

See? Her shadow gasped. Make it stop! It hurts!

In fear, she turned and ran towards the light, her long skinny feet covering the distance easily, until her shadow became slightly squat. She felt the blood starting to pool around her bones as the fingers start to shorten. Her feet began to ache less and her head didn’t feel so heavy, but within a few seconds, she is back to the vicious cycle. Her shadow mimicking her short body and her wish mimicking her shadow.

‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’ the little girl sobbed as she became shorter and shorter. There is no way to end the wish. If she ran forward, she’s grow impossibly tall and never stop, if she ran towards the light, she will be a squat flat round thing the circumference of her tummy. She had made the grievous mistake which her shadow had been trying to tell her.

I am a part of you, an extension of you. To become me is to be incomplete, where will the real you be?

While the shadow beseeched her, the little girl pelted back and forth the light until she was wearied. She felt as if the whole process had been a long time, but time is not a factor here. She forced her heartbeat to stop its ferocious thudding and calm down.

Slowly, deliberately, the little girl took control of her panic and pressed herself to take small measured steps. She shifted back and forth so that her body, while continuing to make its adjustments, nevertheless stabilizes to a constant slow pace. Her body had become grotesque as it struggled to mesh itself to the shadow shape during the panic. One arm is distinctly longer than the other while her left foot is a stub.

When she finally had her mind in order, she took a review of the situation. ‘This can’t go on. I’m a wreck.’ The little girl looked at herself. For once, she had liked to have her old body back, fat or not. But a wish cannot be un-wished, everyone knows that.

Be yourself. Go back.

The little girl understood. Swaying back and forth, she concentrated. The white noise in the background she now realized it for what it was. What had happened to her was never real, had never happened. Time is not a factor. She was separate from reality like that cat in the box paradox. If the cat disappears the minute you open the box, does the cat exist? To the cat, it knows it exists, but to the person, it does not.

I am now in a paradox. She thought. This street is my box, no one sees me and I see no one. I exist, but I do not exist fully. Somewhere outside of this, a little girl is currently absent-mindedly fixated on her shadow along the roadside while people walked pass her.

She concentrated. The silver lining glowed and expanded until it was so tall, it included the street lamp casting her shadow. Then frowning fiercely (all the while shifting back and forth), she stare at the lamp, now in her immediate alternate universe.

The lamp bulb burst in a sprinkling of glass and light. In the flickering before all light ceased, the shadow thanked the little girl and the two of them plunged into darkness. Naturally, the wish, looking at the absence of light, which cast no shadow, mimic nothing.

The girl in her alternate universe, created by her hopes and dreams and her escapades before dinner, whom sought to become her shadow and was incomplete, vanished. The white noise rushed in to fill the void as the current universe crashed in.


Our heroine blinked. Outside everyday noises once again flowed through her ears. The loud squaw catches her attention. She looked up to see a crow picking lice off itself on the street lamp, which was back on.

She patted herself. She was as plump as before. No changes there. Her shadow was like any other, a devoid of light caused by shining on an opaque object. But to be on the safe side, she said loudly to no one in particular.

‘I trust you and I’m sorry.’ Then she smiled and walked home.


**The cat in the box paradox in this story is a simplified version of Schroedinger’s Cat paradox on quantum physics and the Falling Tree paradox. Unless we see and hear something, does it in actual fact exists or is it in a state of supposition? The current paradox can also be reversed. If a cat only appears everytime you open the box, does the cat exist when the box is closed?




Ensui said...

Your posts are getting more profound. :)

Either that, or i'm getting stupider due to dying brain cells. xD

I sure hope there's a happy ending for our heroine. :)

Jaschocolate said...

guess the point of story is to learn to cherish what you have. yes, there is no point in envy.. just a waste of time. :)

ah fatt's fan said...

Sibei cheem..............

Tempest Blue said...

Heya! Nice to see you blogging again! All I can think is.. Waaah... if you wrote that during primary school for your English class... :-p

Ang Ku Kueh said...


some losses to her life but no big deal. the story is actually very simple, nothing deep about it. read it like a fairy tale, and take it at face value.


yup! very simple message to treasure what you have, but truly, there's no morals to the story. sadly it just so happens that not everyone gets what they want, even if what they want is very normal to other ppl, like a normal weight.
our heroine just got unlucky, but she is OK, hee.

ah fatt's fan:

hey, have i told u how much i do appreciate your reading my blogs like the rest of them? I'm saying it again, thank you! Its a weird post, i know, from the others, but just take this story like a simple fairy tale where anything can happen and read it again? you will feel differently about it. nothing cheem, i have no cheem blogs.


good to see you are still writing. no lah, i never wrote this story out and it was never this developed last time. I'm glad i got it out of the system.

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Uncle Wang Kit said...

WANG KIT! mon 8:30 Okto & sat midday. 'naughty naughty Uncle Wang Kit comment whore, noh free science. story bout girl quite nice! Naughty naughty ending'

Cheap Men Suits said...

I love the story and I want to wear a gangster suit reading it.

Julia alan said...

Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

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