Over the following years Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow slunk onto ships and flights bound for Saint Petersburg, Paris and Vienna to search out the best ballet academies. There it would mimic the steps of their best dancers, and lap up the critiques of their best teachers. It would follow leads onto stage at concerts as they graduated to take principle roles with the most prestigious companies. In this way, the shadow grew more and more proficient until it could easily outperform any of its counterparts.
Alas, only the most observant and imaginative audience members would ever notice that there were one too many shadows cast under the spotlight, and that the spare shadow was far and away the most talented dancer on stage. Any mention of this, and they were invariably written off as fools, or worse, by other concert goers. Naturally most had the good sense to keep their magical experience firmly to themselves.
Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow grew so expert in ballet that it became frustrated at the choices of choreography directors, and would lean over from walls to whisper advice in their ears. Having no actual voice meant that its ideas would come to the directors in flashes and images. They would assume they had received divine inspiration and claim the suggestions as their own.
The shadow watched on, helpless, as dancers and choreographers it spent time with advanced their careers, blossoming into acclaimed and prosperous artists.
Meanwhile, many miles away, without the fervid spirit of Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow to buoy him through the suffocating weight of office life, Andrew Lamb sunk into deep depression. He lost his sense of humour, his step grew heavy, and his posture slumped. He no longer made droll jokes at smokey sports bars or attempted to win the support of staff at morning teas. All the while, he had no inkling that he had lost his shadow, or that his zest for life had left with it.
As his staff lost faith in him the team’s performance dropped, and he grew less and less efficient at planning and tracking their workflows. It became evident to senior management that he had become the weak link in the chain of command and he was promptly terminated. There was nothing left for Andrew Lamb to do, but return home, apply for the unemployment benefit and languish on his bed wondering why he felt the way he did… slowly wasting away. He couldn’t even gather the will to contact any of the therapists his case workers referred him to.