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The Shadow People

In her attic bedroom Margaret Murray, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees, clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. She peed herself and looked at the mess. She hated the fact that she was a nervous pisser. It had brought about divorce and shame but that’s what happens when your entire life has been cursed with the burden of being frightened by shadows. Shadows were something entirely different for Margaret.

The nights were long as she sat longing for love and the touch of a man but she never left the confines of her house. The outside world was too cruel she felt and she didn’t belong anywhere but the home she had created for herself. The downstairs clock rang out every hour and reminded her of how many hours were left until the sun came up. She dreaded windy nights. The nights that brought the trees and shadows to life. She had no visitors in real life but she did have demons that would visit when the moon was full.

She got up from the bed, it was wet now, after all. She dreaded the journey to the downstairs hall closet. When the floor creaked, it sounded as if that was the language of the demons. Every creak would be an invitation for shadow demons to enter her room and every step brought more chance of that. She made sure every footstep was slow and methodical but she knew in the end it would be futile. Her clothes were wet and so were her sheets. She couldn’t lay in her own urine, could she? The thought did cross her mind but she was a lady. She would not. She must get fresh sheets, a towel, and clean sleepwear. She would do it. Her mother wouldn’t allow it to be any other way.

Her mother, Gwendolyn, lived in the basement of the house. At least the memory of her did. Gwendolyn had died twenty years ago and Margaret had put the ashes in an urn and put her mother and all her mother’s belongings in the basement. Gwendolyn was a shrewd woman and always demanded the best from Margaret. Her standards had been too high and Margaret often fell short of the lofty goals her mother had put forth but she still continued to try. For her, it was a prison of her mother’s ambitions.

Margaret stepped lightly. The floor made no sound. One step down, one hundred left to go. Her next step was quiet and she could feel her bladder starting to loosen. Her third step touched down and the old wooden floor let out a creak. She stopped and looked around for a sign of the shadow people. That’s what she called them, the shadow people. No sign of them, maybe they didn’t hear it. She looked at her next step carefully. She studied it. Where should she put it? As her next step touched down, the silence was deafening. She sighed from relief. Her next step was not as careful and, once again, a creak, louder than the first, rang out from the floor.

As her foot touched down, she looked at it. Then four shadow feet stood facing hers. More urine ran down her ankle, making a puddle on the floor. In a raspy voice, the two shadow people said in unison, “You called.”

Standing face to face with two shadow figures, their faces without any defining characteristics, she tried to speak. “I need to get cleaned up before mother gets upset.” Margaret had been here before. The shadows would be there until the sun came up. The clock rang out from downstairs. It was midnight, which meant she would have to spend hours with them until sunrise. The shadow people kept her company by standing next to her and staring. They brought an evil, unpleasant energy. They had marked her long ago with it and they were connected with her forever that way.

Not wanting anymore shadow people to enter, she stood there the rest of the night. She tried not to move and breathed slowly. She tried not to shift her weight, it might make the floor creak again. The shadow people stood next to her the entire night. Facing her.

The sunrise came and the shadow people disappeared with the rest of the shadows. Margaret stood there exhausted and alone. She smelled of urine and had a faraway stare. Her legs ached as she walked to the door. She would get cleaned up and sleep the rest of the day, which meant she would be awake again for the coming night.

Can I Know Everything?

There are too many people in the world to know.

That bothered me as a kid. How could I possibly get to know all the people and who could possibly know the scope of all of everything? So many memories in each of their heads and they all go to different places mentally and physically. All of their stories are different and unique to them. The thought of so much going on and so much information was too much for my child brain to handle.

As a teenager I figured those people would get to know me if they wanted to. I wouldn’t bother with the scope anymore and rested in the knowledge that everything would be there forever and would continue to pile up on itself. It would all be there when I was done figuring out my own story.

When I was about 14 years old, one night in bed, I began to view the universe as a body. A body with our galaxies as the cells of its body. I began to wonder if we humans were the infinite smallness we viewed our own cells to be. This universe we’re in is a body, the same as ours, with a different concept of time. I wondered if our cells had similar thoughts to ours. That if we feel we’re important, our cells must think they’re important, too. Thinking that each and every cell in my body has its own thoughts and feelings became a lot to contend with.

If I couldn’t get to know every human on this planet, what chance did I have of getting to know all my cells? I sat and contemplated for hours. I slept with those thoughts processing in my head. I’d daydream in after school, in school and Saturday detentions. I needed answers. I joined the Columbia House book club, ordered Stephen Hawking books and combed through them for answers. In them, he explained time and light. I began to think that we could possibly be someone’s memory. I also thought that if we could go faster than the speed of light, that we could get ahead of our memories and witness them again. It only led to more questions and a feeling of hopelessness. I felt that I wasn’t any closer to answers and if I didn’t know my cells, that meant I didn’t know myself.

As I grew into adulthood, those thoughts would creep in during the long drives between cities. I wasn’t able to get answers by looking within, so I started to look without. The big picture of how some galaxies collide and how some are alone and more so, how they somehow looked like our own cells from far away as the Hubble Telescope showed in pictures. I looked at the planets in the solar system and the moons of those planets as well as our own and noticed an attraction between everything. There is light and darkness within our home galaxy and between the galaxies themselves. If laws govern the infinite bigness, laws must govern the infinite smallness and everything in between. But what are those laws and are they different for each? I felt so small and so big at the same time.

One night it dawned on me that we are universes. Each and every one of us is a universe within the cells of a universe. That looking at us through a microscope would reveal that we aren’t even the solid beings we think we are. We are all beings with different amounts of space between the objects that make us. I saw that we are all connected and that some things were just closer, which kept things separate enough for our observation.

That brought me back to my original problem. How could I possibly know that scope of all of everything? I rested my head on my pillow some years ago. I thought on it again and realized that I don’t have to know all of everything because I am everything. And so are you. But just like there is nothing in the space that separates everything, I too, am nothing. And so are you. I am a group of particles and space, so I am everything and I am nothing. And so are you. We are all equal in that regard. It all became too much again. I started to become even more hopeless because what could the point of any of this be? I withdrew from everything.

Then, years after that, I fell in love when I saw a universe across the room. She was made of stars and space and everything that I had thought of up to that point. Gravity pulled me closer. For the first time I knew the thoughts of every cell in my body. I became whole. I finally knew myself and that gave me the freedom to start getting to know everything outside of me. I needed to know this curly haired, soft voiced, woman from behind the bar. Once I looked into her eyes I knew everything I needed to know. I could actually see an infinite depth as she let me in. I had never seen it from that perspective. She was a universe and I was connected to her. There was a very real energy that emanated from us as we walked together. We became two universes colliding until we became one. The space between us didn’t matter. When it came to my big question of everything I realized I had not taken into consideration what I could not see. What wasn’t physically there to see was love, energy, frequency, chemistry and time. She showed me what I had been searching for, the links to every dimension.

Then she was gone and my whole body ached. Every cell in my body was in pain. I was not the same and my perspective on the entire question changed. I searched more and for awhile I withdrew again. More thoughts processed. More nights were sleepless. But one thing I knew for sure was that the love I felt was worth it. The love and the heartbreak gave everything meaning and many years passed.

Which brings me to now. I believe there is no way to know all of everything. All one can do is know one’s self and with that know the entire universe within. Our actions connect us in ways we can’t even imagine. Our thoughts control what we are going to put out into the outside world. If you can control your thoughts, you can control what you do and in turn, control what goes out into the outside world. Because of that, we are not separate. We are one. One or one’s thoughts are in charge of a whole universe whether one likes it or not.

I realized that the only thing that exists is this moment. This very moment. That one’s past is a collection of memories in one’s head. They are real to that person and no one else. What is real and what isn’t then? That is part of knowing the all of everything, which is a much bigger question than I had anticipated it to be as a child. I don’t know what sparked that question in my child brain but my god head continues to seek answers. The big question has only gotten bigger and I’ll spend more nights reading and contemplating. But you should know that love showed me that I’m worth billions of galaxies because that’s exactly what I’m made of. And so are you. And so was she. It was the missing link to meaning and purpose and I got to witness it in the flesh.

May we all find ourselves. That is what I’m putting out into the universe today.