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A Shadow's Severed Head

Sunday, April 14, 2024
So I was going for a walk the other day, right? And maybe I had taken an edible before I left—one of those gummy ones—growing up I used to think the default edible was a brownie, but now it's all about these gummy ones—I guess they're easier to get the dose right for and keep longer and economies of scale and regulation and all that, but still, it'd be nice to be able to buy a proper old-fashioned special brownie from, like, the bakery—but there I was on the walk and maybe the gummy edible had started to kick in or maybe I was just feeling very calm and at peace with the world without the aid of mind altering substances, maybe it was the cool breeze on my face and the gentle lapping of the river that had altered my mind, but I was almost home, so it had probably been long enough for it to really have been the edible. Everything felt slow and calm and relaxed-like. I had to cross one more bridge and then I'd basically be home and so I was taking my time, strolling along. Now I had just gotten onto the bridge, but I wasn't yet at the part of the bridge that goes over the river. See, the bridge starts at street level and rises slowly and then crosses over a highway and then over a strip of park and then finally over the river. So I'm walking on the gradually ascending part of the bridge and to my right a little bit away is a big brick wall. The wall isn't free-standing or anything like that; it's attached to a building like normal, but it doesn't have any windows, at least no perceivable windows. Maybe it has teeny tiny windows that I never noticed. But this wall's maybe five or six stories tall and real wide and it's got this huge mural on it, but that's not really important to the story at all. The mural, that is. The wall is important, but the mural on it isn't. It's a nice mural, one that I enjoy looking at in general, but on this day while I was walking over the bridge, it wasn't the mural on the wall that I was looking at, but something else. You see, the sun was setting over to my left while I was walking over the bridge, casting (the sun was) long shadows over to the right while I walked forward over this gradually ascending part of the bridge. The sun was casting long shadows onto the wall to my right. So I was walking over the bridge and my shadow was walking along the wall. I slowed down and watched my arms' shadows swing idly along as we walked together. But now the bridge has this low wall along the outside of the sidewalk to keep people from falling off, I suppose, but it looks nice, too, being all crenelated and whatever. And so as the bridge rises, this wall rises too, not gradually like the bridge, but step-wise, so that every few steps now, my long shadow on the building to my right is slowly and step-wise swallowed by the swelling darkness. First the tips of my fingers are gone. Then the wall rises again and I'm just a pair of shoulders and a head, bobbing and swinging. Then the wall rises again and I'm nothing but a head floating along. I was almost at the edge of the building when I paused to watch as my shadow's severed head rolled along without me, off the wall and over the highway and across the narrow park and into the river. It plunged into the little waves and disappeared. I smiled and laughed and said goodbye:
Bridge over river

Setting sun draws

Last rays from its quiver

A shadow's severed head

Rolls and rolls and rolls

Into the river.