The shadow of Rudolf Nureyev (Part 5)

PART 1, HERE | PART 2, HERE | PART 3, HERE | PART 4, HERE

While Andrew Lamb was feeling considerably better, he was still unemployed, malnourished and lacking confidence. His routine had changed only slightly: it still consisted of lying in bed too long and staring at items in his bedroom, but he now had a companion to share it with. He had never noticed his shadow before, it had seemed inconsequential, but now it fascinated him. He was convinced that his wayward shadow had gestured nervously at him; for now it seemed to be behaving itself, following his movements dutifully, but he was determined to catch it out.

For days in and days out he pretended to be ignorant as he set traps for it. At first he would merely spin around suddenly, as he had done on the first day of its return, but that didn’t work—every time he did this he was confronted with a perfect simulation of himself stretched across a wall or down the floor. The next ruse consisted of lulling the shadow into a false sense of security by playing games with it. Perhaps if he found something interesting enough for them to do together, it would lose its inhibitions and slip up.

For a couple of days Andrew Lamb crouched up by a wall adjacent to the bedroom window and experimented casting shadow puppets with his hands. He started with ones he remembered from childhood, when he had paid closer attention to the shadow, such as rabbits and butterflies, animating them through imaginary landscapes and situations. He quickly graduated to more complex representations of elephants, antelopes, and people… before long he found that he was having more fun than he had ever had at any rugby match or sports bar… he began creating dialogues for his animations and performing them out loud in different voices. One time, when particularly engrossed in one such performance he could have sworn the eagle silhouette he was manipulating separated from his wrist, grew feathers, and soared across the ceiling, but in a flash it was back where it belonged, attached to his arm and looking as crude as he remembered it. The shadow behaved itself perfectly for the rest of the day, and Andrew Lamb lost interest.

The next morning, Andrew Lamb woke up feeling friskier than the last, and thought that this time he would use his entire body to trick the shadow into revealing itself. He started by pacing up and down the hall doing silly walks, stopping and spinning suddenly, hopping and skipping, and the like. Before long he was also leaping, rolling and sliding. One time, in the midst of a spin, he caught from the corner of his eye, the silhouette of a Greek god pirouetting with impossible grace. He fell straight on his arse in amazement. His heart was beating heavily, not just from the exertion, but with the excitement of seeing himself in such a way for the first time. “Tomorrow”, he thought, “we will try this with music”.

PART 6, HERE

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