WEP: Long Shadow



The WEP posts every second month with a prompt and a bunch of short stories or other creative writing. This month's prompt has inspired me to something a little less conventional, but I'm feeling ready to write a little about it. This is non-fiction, and personal.

 291 words; Comments only.


A small decision can cast a long shadow. The choice to go for an evening bike ride. Or how far back do you trace the decisions? A move to a new town? The refusal to give night rides after one accident? Or can we blame it on COVID? Because if not for the pandemic, we would have been deep in training for a strenuous July trip to the Swiss Alps. Or was May 8 too early to have shifted from bikes to trails? I can't be sure now.

The decision he made was to ride his bike after dinner, when it was a little cooler, and the sun was no longer beating down on everything. It seemed like a reasonable choice at the time. As far as I know, it was the last decision he made, and the shadow it cast will last the rest of my life, and our sons' lives.

The consequences of that decision reach out into every part of our lives, and the long shadow feels like a good metaphor for it. There is still life and love and joy, but everything is a bit dimmed by that shadow. At first, up close to the source, the shadow makes everything so dark you can't see anything else. Time moves us farther out, and the shadow thins, is less total, but it never goes away.

But there is another long shadow, that cast by the love and generosity and the giving heart that was stilled that night. The hundreds of lives he touched in a 29-year teaching career. All the people he listened to and cared about and swapped stories with all over the world. Some part of him lives on in all of them.

Every life casts a long shadow, and every loss casts a long shadow. The same metaphor, but almost opposite meaning: the gift of self, and the loss of half my self.

 All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


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