Rudolf Nureyev’s shadow had grown sick of being mistaken for a figment of concert-goers’ imaginations—being written off as a trick of the light, or as the result of too much partying—and it had had more than enough of being the unsung muse to a string of pretentious choreographers who were taking credit for works far beyond their own real talents. Finally, after ten years of lonely toil, the shadow felt homesick enough to return to the one person it had ever felt a real bond with, Andrew Lamb. The shadow had no idea that the little boy it had been torn from long ago would grow to be the famous ballet star Rudolf Nureyev, and even if it had known, it couldn’t have done a thing about it, as Nureyev had already been dead for years. The shadow decided it was time to give up on its dreams and return to an ordinary life.
Andrew Lamb had been a shut-in for about six months now, venturing outside only to purchase supplies—he was finding it increasingly difficult to move. His days consisted of lying in bed staring at the ceiling, rolling to his side to stare at walls when his neck hurt, and shuffling to the fridge or toilet, depending on which bodily need had become most pressing. Lying there alone without distractions had heightened his senses. When he was not sleeping, he grew acutely aware of the details of his bedroom: the worn paint around the door knobs; the discolouration of the fire alarms; the morphing shape of shadows cast through the day. At some point during one of these extended meditations he had finally noticed his own lack of a shadow. This had disturbed him greatly, and after much introspection, he decided that this occurrence was a definite sign of mental collapse. From that moment on he preferred the lights off and the shades pulled—he did not want to be reminded of the extent of his breakdown.
When the shadow returned he did not see it, but he did feel it. A current of electricity ran from his toes, up his spine, and into his head. His eyes burst open and his breathing grew rapid. Andrew Lamb suddenly wondered what he was doing in bed and what he had been missing out on outside of the apartment; was it day or night, fine or wet? He sat up and slid out of bed feeling somewhat more like his old self. As he threw the blinds open he was washed in blues, greens and yellows; he had to turn from the window to avoid being blinded with light. Standing there behind him was his old shadow, and if he wasn’t mistaken, it had just waved apologetically at him.