Jan 28 – Shadow

My steps were shaky and unsure as I followed his footsteps through the melting snow. The sidewalk had begun to drown as the sun had risen throughout the day and, even though the sky was dark now, the warmth of its rays lingered in the frostbitten air. The changing of seasons was unpleasant to most, but I found a deep sense of hope in the murky fiords that were once the streets. We were walking nearly side-by-side, but my legs could never quite match his stride, he would forever be a few inches ahead of me. It was our first date and I was nervous beyond thought; I had been smitten by Luke since childhood but had always thought that I was nothing more than a shadow to him. It wasn’t until last week when he showed up at my house unexpectedly and asked me out for dinner that I had any hope of being noticed by him. The days between then and now had dragged on absurdly slowly, but today still seemed to take me by surprise. I had been a jittery mess all day with the anticipation of tonight. There was coffee spilled everywhere as I daydreamed while trying to put a pot on, only to misplace the pot and let the drink drip all over the counter and floor. A plate was broken as my unsteady hands dropped it to the floor while trying to dry it off. But that was behind me. I had gotten ready in a jif, no time for fancy hair or makeup. Luke showed up at 6:30 pm and asked if I was ready to go. He lingered by the door of my room as I put on a fresh coat of lipstick and grabbed my coat. The next two hours were a blur – dinner was delicious, but the conversation was even more perfect. We talked about likes and dislike, what we wanted to do in the next few years, places we wanted to explore. We bickered about something we couldn’t seem to agree on and then, before I knew it, we were out of the restaurant and walking down the street. The sun had long ago set, but the frozen air wasn’t entirely numbing as I walked almost next to Luke. He stayed a few inches ahead, as always, and it was easy to think that he would leave me in the dust. I thought dinner had gone well, but I would always be one step behind him, not quite meeting him where he’s at. We walked on for what seemed forever with this four-inch wall started to grow between us. The conversation slowed and the chill started to sink in. I assumed that I just couldn’t break the shadow mold that I had set myself into years ago. I spoke up and said that I was getting quite cold and figured that we could just end it here and stop trying to drag out something that clearly wasn’t working. Luke stopped and turned to me and said that we could loop around the block and head back to his car; his face was a little dismayed, but at what, I wasn’t sure. So we turned to the right and made our way back to his car, my head sinking lower, my steps getting shorter. I was about to stuff my numb fingers into my pockets when an equally freezing hand took mine and said, “Don’t worry, I can take smaller steps.”

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