Timothy’s Shadow

by Quentin Norris

Timothy moved into a haunted apartment complex on his twenty-fifth birthday, one day after signing the lease. He didn’t tell his friends or family until the day after, knowing that they would be worried for him, moving into a place like Golden Oaks Apartments on the edge of town, on his birthday of all days. His grandmother called decisions like that “a bad omen.” His mother called them “just plain stupid.”

But Timothy called it a good deal. The Golden Oaks remained the only place in town that had a one-room apartment at a monthly rent he could afford, and Timothy hated roommates. He had to put up with them throughout his college years, and he was ready for solitude.

For the first month, it really was a good deal. He lived in the old building comfortably, and never had any issues or complaints. Even though the complex had a history in town, being a place where multiple citizens had witnessed ghosts, ghouls and other unexplained phenomena, Timothy found the place to be quite comfortable.

On the first night of his second month in the apartment, Timothy left his bedroom to visit the bathroom. Walking down the hall, he stopped,and saw someone standing in his living room. He could not make out any distinguishing features. The figure just stood by the window, silhouetted by the moonlight shining in through the window.

“Hello?” called Timothy to the figure, but he received no response. He kept waiting for the moment when he realized that it was just a trick of the light, but that relief never came. He crept into the living room, never taking his eyes off the figure, who never moved, and although Timothy could not see its eyes, he knew it was watching him, too.

Timothy felt his way over to one of his two armchairs, his only furniture, inherited from his grandfather, so they smelled strongly of cigar smoke. He lowered himself onto the chair. The shadow simply watched.

“Hello,” he said again, but this time, he meant it as a greeting. The shadow did not respond, but Timothy had a comforting feeling that it was not going to hurt him. “How was your day?” he asked, knowing how silly of a question it was for something as weird as this shadow across from him. Unsurprisingly, no response came. “My day was fine,” said Timothy. He surprised himself as he began to talk about everything that had happened to him since that morning. As he did, the shadow slowly crept over to the opposite armchair, and cautiously sat down. Timothy smiled, feeling a warm glow in his stomach, a feeling he had missed, without realizing it before.

And so began the strange, intimate friendship with the supernatural being haunting Timothy’s apartment. Every night, they met in the chairs, and Timothy would spin a tale about whatever had gone on in the previous day—the good, the bad, the stuff in the middle. Timothy had forgotten what it was like to really talk to another person and enjoy it. During their nightly conversations, Timothy learned that the shadow’s name was Jeremy. The shadow didn’t say that; it just gave Timothy a feeling. Maybe it was just Timothy projecting on the shadow, but regardless, Jeremy just felt right.

Eventually, one day, a neighbor down the hall, who had gotten increasingly annoyed with a particularly nasty poltergeist, called a priest to perform an exorcism. Sadly, Jeremy ended up catching a residual effect of the ritual, and when Timothy came home one evening, he found that his shadow had disappeared.

Heartbroken, Timothy slowly began to recognize how much of a stranger he was at Golden Oaks. He could relate to no one, and if someone did have that potential, they did not seem interested in relating to him. A part of Timothy wanted to stick around, just in case Jeremy came home, but when his living room was still empty by the time his lease expiration date came around, Timothy knew that he had to leave. His parents were happy to have him back, and on the night of his return, he was led to his old childhood room.

Although the room was familiar to him, it brought no comfort. He crawled into his old bed, and switched off the lamp. He was about to place his head on the pillow, when he sat up and smiled. A shadowy shape, sitting in the corner of the room, lifted up a pitch black arm and waved to him, silent but joyful. 

Quentin Norris is a writer, filmmaker, and performer currently living in Austin, Texas. Along with writing short fiction and developing film projects, he also writes and performs sketch comedy with the troupe, Horse Milk. His work has been published in various publications including Scrutiny Journal, Coffin Bell Journal, and Dime Show Review.
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