I am slowly getting through the Open Pen submissions. This week, we have a short story from Gabby. You can check out her website or her two published books here: Gabby’s Books.
Gabby wrote this mystery piece for a writing contest through her local library. Her story was inspired by “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Her limit is 1200 words, so please be aware of this word limit as you comment. Specifically, Gabby wanted to see if her mystery made logical sense and if it was interesting.
Next week, we have a critique from C. B. Cook, and the week after that, we have Sami P. Don’t worry– I am going to get to your pieces soon. 😉
Thanks for commenting, and if you want to submit a piece of your writing for a critique, you are welcome to here: Open Pen Critiques.
Have a great week!
The Strange Case of Iris and Siri by Gabby G.
At that moment, Iris knew — at least she thought she knew.
“It was Claudia!” she shrieked, her green eyes glazed in pain and confusion. “Joel, you have to believe me. Why would I write this letter? Why would I ever say these things? It has to have been Claudia. She hates our friendship. You know that, Joel!” She thrust her last hope at him. “It isn’t even my handwriting.”
He said nothing. Just walked out the door. It slammed behind him with a deep echo. The note was crumpled in Iris’s shaking hands.
My plan was working. Perfectly.
“Who is this Iris?” you may ask.
Well, coincidentally, I have known her for quite a long time — for all of her fifteen years, actually. Through the mirror she has green eyes and brown hair. Straight. You would probably consider her pretty. I have heard her called this, and at one time I would have agreed.
I used to watch people and think they were pretty, even beautiful sometimes. I may be quiet, but I am not blind.
When Iris was little, she used to talk to me. She asked me about silly things such as puppies and rainbows. She created stories for me embellished with imaginary happenings. No matter how insignificant these conversations were, though, I cared.
I would always answer her. Even though my kind fears the night, I would light each candle in the candelabra every evening and reply to her. I loved her enough to risk the darkness. Every morning on her dresser, there would be a note.
We used to dance, too. In the dust of the sunshine, we would dance. Flying around us while we twirled, piano notes would stream from the radio. Her eyes would shine.
She was my girl. And I had loved her.
You may further wonder who I am and how I know Iris so well. It’s very simple, actually.
I am Siri. Her shadow.
Eleven days has passed and Joel has yet to speak to or even acknowledge Iris’s existence. I am quite proud of myself but growing impatient. Has she completely forgotten my penmanship? It’s high time that she notices me again.
She sits at the piano playing a depressing, yet melodious tune. Beethoven, I suppose. Suddenly, she smashes her fists down. The keys cry out in anguish under her clenched hands. A moment later her head is bowed towards the piano. I can hear her tears bouncing off the ivory keys.
Humans are so confusing. Sometimes I think they all need to be confined to asylums. Then again, I realize you may not know much about us shadows either; however, there is a difference. We care. We at least try to understand you selfish beasts as much as we are able. But you — you don’t care at all. Humans only care about themselves.
How do I know? Here’s how.
One day Iris and I were best friends. The next day she met Joel Walker. She hasn’t spoken to me since that day. Instead she talks to Joel. She dances with Joel. She even writes letters to Joel, but he doesn’t write back as often as I had.
Iris only has one nuisance in her life and that’s Claudia. This girl is jealous of Iris’s friendship with Joel. Frankly, I don’t blame her one little bit.
It must be obvious that I have to do whatever it takes to stop Iris from ignoring me and fawning over Joel. As you humans would put it, ‘I have turned the tables.’ You may be wondering if I am ashamed of what I am doing. My answer is no.
If only you were a shadow you would understand. We are bound to a human. We are unable to talk. We are forced to do as our human does.
Many shadows fear the night. I used to myself. But now I reveal in it. In fact, it suits me quite well. Darkness is my friend for it grants me freedom for a small while.
However, there is only one way for a shadow to truly be free. They must break from their human to become a ghost; not as free or as tangible as a human, but not as enslaved or as overlooked as a shadow.
As Iris continues to ignore me, I am finally considering this as an option.
Civilly, I follow her to the mirror the next morning. She is different somehow. I sense it. As she stares at her reflection with blank, swollen eyes, I realize what has changed.
Her eyes — her striking green eyes I have always envied — they are flecked with grey. Grey like a shadow. Grey like my torn soul.
Do you know what has happened? Do you know why this has happened? I do.
It is because of me that my girl who was so very sweet and loquacious and good is gradually turning bad. Iris is turning bad and I am not sure if I care anymore. Perhaps shadows and humans are not as different as I had once thought.
From the pocket of her robe Iris pulls out the note. Joel’s note. The note that I penned in her name. Her speckled eyes grab onto the page. They finally study my handwriting. Her body tenses. She rushes to her closet. Out she pulls a small box with rainbows on it no less.
I watch in awe. Silent as always.
Coughing, she shakily wipes off the dust and slowly, very slowly, removes the lid.
I feel myself starting to cry. Though shadows don’t have tears, I can taste the salty drops as if they were running down my face.
She saved each one. Each note.
Gently, she picks up the top paper and compares it with the note to Joel. “Why?” she murmurs softly. “Siri, why?”
In the middle of a sob, I pause. It has been so long since I have heard my name. It has been so long since my girl has talked to her shadow. If only I could speak. If only I could tell her sorry for hurting her so deeply.
But suddenly I straighten. Iris hurt me first. She abandoned me for nine years while I thought of her every day. I stayed by her side though she ignored me. She does not deserve my apology. I deserve hers. But even her apology would never make up for what she had done.
I am in a quandary no longer. I have finally decided what must be done. Later tonight I will write her a note — my final note. Little does Iris know that today was her last day with a shadow. Tomorrow I will be free.
At last I will bring the life of this unhappy shadow, Siri, to an end.