This is an essay adopted from Henry Shefter’s “Shefter’s Guide to Better Compositions”.  A  Myanmese (Burmese) language teacher of mine made us read this in the class before writing an essay.  It has a subtle start and surprisingly startles the reader with a touching twist in the ethereal end.  Enjoy…



Shadows in the Night

The child is in bed, awake, frightened by the howling wind and the shadows dancing on his walls.  His toy animals seem enormous as they are magnified on the ceiling by the dim light outside room. His clothes, laid carelessly on a chair, also throw off peculiar shadows.  He sees witches and goblins, dragons and giants.  The child is afraid of what he sees.  I would not be afraid.

The young woman hurries along, alone in the dark.  The only light is a dim street lamp.  The buildings all around her seem huge and horrible; their shadows fill her with fear.  She imagines terrible things and begins to run.  The only sound is the noise of her heels tapping on the sidewalk.  She is afraid of what she sees and what she doesn’t see.  I would not be afraid.

The soldier waits anxiously at the door.  Though the window shades he can see the fingers of a man and a woman, with shades he can see the figures of a man and a woman, with their heads bent as if they were whispering.  It is difficult to determine to whom the shadows belong.  He prays that his sweetheart has not found someone new during his long absence.  He hesitates before ringing the bell.  He fears what he sees.  I would not be afraid.

I would not fear the shadows on the walls.  They would be my friends.  I would watch them dance and dance with them.  O, what beautiful shadows I would see!

I would not fear walking in the dark and seeing ht e shadows of tall buildings.  The buildings would protect and keep me warm.  They would be friendly shadows.

I would not fear seeing the shadows of two people through a window.  They are my friends waiting for me.  They would be happy shadows.

I would not fear shadows. I pray for them instead.  I would love to see a shadow, any shadow – big or small – for just a moment.  I am blind.

What I Think: Well, this is really beautiful … I consider myself as an aesthetic artist but such an idea would not have sprung from my mind.  But I don’t like the idea of a blind wanting to see shadows; it would be preposterous for a person who is visually disadvantaged wanted to see shadows, which are anonymous with the dark or blindness.  However, I would not be able to comprehend a blind individual’s thoughts even if I had the power to read their minds.