The Tiny Big Houses – Part 2: The Shadow

Music by Dante S. Ryu, 2016

by Christina Ryu, 2016

One day when Li was sitting by the tree, looking at its’ magical colors he suddenly felt the presence of someone. He turned around but it was no one there. He could feel his heart beating faster as he scanned his surroundings. Nothing. Still a sense of something or someone. He wanted to shake that feeling off but his mother had always told him to trust his instincts. That’s what keeps you alive. He got up and started to walk around. He had brought his stick and he used it to move branches so he could look into the depth of the forest. Just darkness. But then, something dark moving in the darkness. It is hard to explain what he saw, how he could see a shadow move in a place where there was no light, but still he saw the movement. He froze while his mind was going through all the things he had experienced there, all the animals he had seen to try to match this creature with it, but he couldn’t. For the first time in a long time he was unsure what to do. He thought of going back home to ask his mother for advice, but he knew she wouldn’t like it. It would disappoint her to see that he wasn’t able to solve this by himself. He also thought of ignoring it, sit down again and hope it had disappeared, but he didn’t because he could feel that something was wrong. He looked at the tree and he could see that he was right, the tree spoke to him again, not in words but it showed fear. He slowly started to make his way into the forest in the direction of the shadow he had seen. He tried to be silent but it was difficult with the trees growing so close to each other, he had to break his way through. He walked slowly, stopping after each step to listen. At first he didn’t hear anything. Then, he heard someone moving in the distance. He started to walk towards it. He didn’t see anything so he had to be careful about where he put down his feet. Suddenly, he heard the sound so close to him, like someone running past him. He turned his body, tried to see and there was another movement and then it was gone. He stood still for a moment, trying to catch a glance of it again. When he was about to give up, he felt it – someone breathing on him. His body got tensed, he felt an ache in his body, the cold breathe on his skin didn’t feel human. He tried to think. Should he use the air to fight it? Was that even possible, to defeat a shadow with air? He thought about reaching for fire, he always kept matches in his pocket. But he feared that he would set the whole forest on fire if he tried. What was left: dirt, water? This was different from his previous enemies. He sensed that none of his weapons would help. Without thinking any further he said: What do you want? He didn’t know why the words just left him and at the same time as they were spoken the breath was gone and he felt alone again. He started to walk back to the tree, still confused about what had happened. When he got back the tree stood as bright and proud as always, the fear was gone.

Li was guarded the whole night, scanning the area over and over. Nothing happened. No one came. When the sun finally went up and the tree fell asleep by letting the flowers light go out he could relax. He didn’t go straight home.  He made his way to the world-spot, that is to say the place where he could see the world and the tiny big houses. He sat down and thought about the night’s events. He was tired but he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep for a while. He thought about the shadow, wondering what it wanted and when it would come back because he was sure it would. He looked at the tiny big houses and felt a big need of getting there, like it wasn’t safe here anymore that the tiny big houses would protect him from the evil. He pictured the houses in his mind, trying to imagine how big they were. He thought about the people who lived there. He hadn’t met another person than his mother but still in his mind he pictured that they were nothing like her. He thought about people who would use their voices more. Voices that would tell him things, maybe teach him things he didn’t know. He thought of them, the unknown, as all-knowing. He wished he could convince his mother to go there. Maybe they could help. The whole world was in front of him and he knew that the world he saw was different from the world he lived in. His body screamed to be a part of it, to explore, to see something new. But he had his duties. He had an important job. He needed to protect the tree now more than ever.

When he got home he wanted to tell his mother but her pale face told him that she already knew. There was nothing to say, he just needed to do. He needed to defeat the shadow.


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