Apparitions

Near my hotel was a park where the shadows stayed up late. They played beneath the trees, mimicking the artful breeze that knitted through the branches and stretching like rebellious sundials from their trunks.

Every night I walked through that park on my way from the city and its lights. I left them both behind, to prattle as they do, and emigrated with the shadows and their ignorance of dawn.

They spoke to me in nimble sighs that glanced between the leaves, in hisses through the fissured stone of figures that I passed.

Sometimes I sat and watched the shadows from the foot of an old building there. Its bricks were cold against my back, as if at night the ghosts behind them wept through to the surface. In the shade of that old building the grass was damp and thick, grey like the ocean on the colder parts of earth, and as I moved my hand across it the vaguest exhalations seemed to rise and quickly vanish, giving off a subtle flash that might have been a myth.

I stayed there once until the darkness grew so deep the shadows had to go. I watched the waning silhouettes reluctantly succumb. I watched them all retreat until they clung like fragile sketches to the undersides of trees, until they perished in ubiquity and merged together with the night.

As I stood to walk away I saw my footprints in the grass, and in the silver pattern of my steps there passed a shadow. I saw it for an instant and I turned and walked away.

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