SHADOW chapter 1: It all began when I met a stranger on the pavement.

My name is Wonder Moyo, a 31-year-old woman living in the heart of the city of Bulawayo. My home is a one bedroomed flat within a block of flats along George Silundika, not far from the Trade fair grounds and the new Chicken Inn drive-through restaurant. I am a photographer by profession. I had always dreamt of the day when I would take that one picture that would make the whole world stop, even if it is just for a moment. For this reason I never left my camera when I stepped out of the flat. That shot could happen any day. It had to be out there somewhere.

Other than that, I have always been just an ordinary girl just like any other. I live my life one day at a time like most. I too have always had a shadow. Amazing how you know you have one but you never really pay attention to it. It’s a given, in the right light and depending on which side I am facing, I will actually see my shadow. And as per normal, whatever I do, it does too. Right!

Anyway! Not too long ago, I decided to go and buy myself some chicken and chips and whatever else from the drive through. See it does have a place you can order, sit and eat, including a play area for the kids, which makes for a great family outing. However the play area was the same reason I was going to order and take away, come back to my flat and watch movies as I ate my meal, away from the screams off all the kids. On the way there, I met a very strange-looking man standing on the pavement just outside my block of flats. Actually he was dressed like any other but there was something about him. Maybe it was the twinkle in his huge eyes, or the hint of this deep darkness that was present within that twinkle. He had perfect teeth. I know because he was smiling at me as I approached. His face seemed to harden as I got closer. I had never seen him in all my life so his manner was rather odd to me. When I was about 3ft from him, he looked away and stared straight ahead, completely ignoring me, so I just passed him without a word, fearing he could have escaped from a mental asylum or something odd. He was not a mad man living on the streets, I imagined. He seemed well to do judging from his clothing.

I had gone just a few steps past him when I heard this faint but deep voice call me back. There was no one else in the streets. He had to be speaking to me, so I turned around and there it was again, the smile, with the perfect teeth. The face was much softer now. “Hello” he said, “my name is Frank”. I stood on the same spot waiting for him to say something better than his name, like for instance, why he had stopped me. “Hello Frank”, I replied and waited for what he was going to say next. He just smiled.

By this time I was becoming quite irritated and was already planning to walk on if he did not say anything worth the time he was wasting. “Taken any interesting photos lately?” he asked. I just stared at him in confusion. He pointed at my camera! “Oh yes…a few here and there,” I replied. “You like taking pictures of shadows now and again?” he asked. I remembered I had taken pictures of my shadow almost a week prior to the day. It was a little odd that he asked such a question and indeed I had taken a photo of my shadow but it was still possibly just a coincidence and not worth the time I was wasting standing there. “Sorry Frank, I was on my way somewhere, did you need anything?” I asked. “Then I will not keep you any longer” he replied and walked away in the opposite direction.
I watched him briefly, then turned and continued to walk towards Chicken Inn, crossing a few streets, past a few more blocks of flats and walked through a clearing of ankle high grass, patches of sand and a few trees. There was a little dirt path I was using to make my way over to the main road which I had to cross before arriving at the drive through restaurant.

All of a sudden, I missed a step, and fell. Actually the best description would be that it felt as though someone had grabbed me by the ankle and caused me to fall, landing face down. I lay there for a few seconds in shock. It all happened so quickly. It wasn’t too long after that I felt a hand grab me by my arm and help me to my feet. When I turned my face to see who this person was, I almost fainted. It was smiling Frank! “Careful now,” he said with his smile and that weird dark but friendly twinkle in his eye. Somehow I managed to squeak a thank you out of my mouth. He watched me quietly as I tried to dust myself off. I wondered if that was a hint of amusement that I picked up in his eyes. I continued to walk and did not complain when Frank proceeded to walk beside me as I crossed the road.

On arriving at the entrance of the restaurant, Frank remained by the door. I realized I only had enough cash for my own meal. So I turned to him and asked if he wanted to share my meal because I could not afford to buy him his own. To my relief he told me not to worry because he was actually very full. I went on to place my order, waited to collect it and when I turned around, smiling Frank was still there by the door, smiling back at me, still waiting. We walked out together, crossed the road, walked through the clearing and all the way back to my block of flats in complete silence. He stopped about three steps before the gate entrance and waited for me to open the gate and get inside. I waved him goodbye and thanked him as he turned and walked away from me again.

When I reached the inside of my little flat, I walked first to the lounge and placed my food on my little wooden coffee table I bought second-hand at the auctions, and rushed into my bedroom to collect a few printed photos I had taken with my friends. I felt I needed to have a look at the ones we took of our shadows. I took the whole box of photos and returned to the lounge, taking a seat on the only couch I had in the room.

I soon found the photos in question. We had had so much fun that day standing outside in the courtyard of my block of flats. We all carried cameras and took photos of our shadows as we stood together in a group. This meant the shadows all had cameras and mirrored what we were doing. It was so funny! All the different poses! Then I saw it! It was totally weird, creepy but just amazing. This could be the shot I had been looking for all my life since I took on photography.
My shadow was different. All the other shadows were attached to the person’s feet but mine was totally detached and it did not quite mirror my pose. In fact, the camera was missing.

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