Word Count 500
Cast No Shadow
By Sam McManus
I woke up this morning on the left side of the bed. I usually sleep right. Such a small idiosyncrasy but something I couldn’t help noticing, and this one niggled at the edges of my brain a bit more than the others. Because it had been so long. Regardless, I slid out of the comfy confines of my twin bed, determined to make the most of the day.
First stop: the bathroom. In my mind-numbing daily morning ritual I always arrived there a half step too slow, still encased in my fuzzy dream state, so at first I didn’t notice. At first I thought it was just a trick of the light, and I passed right by. But, just as with the classic double take, when it finally kicked in, it kicked in hard. I eased backward, inch by inch, and looked into the mirror.
It was like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t corporeal, no flesh, no blood, no shadows to prove I had ever existed. I could, however, make out the shower curtain, the bathmat, and the tiny window in the background. Or was it the foreground? I looked down at myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I seemed disheveled enough to be really there. I even pinched myself like in those old cartoons, and it hurt, but when I lifted my gaze there was still no sign of my existence in the glass.
“Nothing weird is going on,” I told myself unconvincingly. Once I was in the shower it was relatively easy to do, because the mirror was no longer there mocking me.
I got dressed in my ratty Ramones t-shirt and bleached khakis, studiously avoiding any mirrors in my apartment. I grabbed an apple and a water bottle on my way to my bike, on my way to work. During the commute, I racked my brains trying to come up with an explanation for what seemed an impossibility. First explanation: I was a vampire. It was about as logical as anything else, really. I mean, if I subscribed to vampires being real, wasn’t one of their gifts not being seen in mirrors?
I looked up at the sun and ruled that one out. Second explanation: this was the most convoluted dream ever, and I was still in the middle of it, pinching aside. But it seemed too real, too concrete, everything besides the no reflection thing. I checked that off my list. I really didn’t have another explanation, so I put the issue aside when I pulled into the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Elm. I began to worry again when I walked in the door and no one greeted me. I wasn’t employee of the month or anything, but usually the others acknowledged me.
“Too bad about Billy,” my best friend Corey was telling a circle of employees gathered around the break room table. They all had somber looks. “I told him that sleep apnea would be the death of him some day.”