I was silent and alone in the darkness last night, when I heard a familiar voice at my window say, "Girl, why are you crying?" I sniffled and opened my eyes to see the curtain flutter in the summer breeze, and a young boy's freckled face leaning in to stare at me in wonder. I don't think he recognized me - I was in bed, not in my wheelchair, and I was in a different house in a different part of the world. And besides, it had been eight months since I'd last seen him, and I know how he forgets things so easily.
Anyway, I was crying - only a little - and in that moment I couldn't tell if Peter was the only person I wanted to see or the last person I wanted to see. Either way, I dabbed my eyes with the corner of my bed sheet and said, "Ohhh, Peter!" I knew it would only bore him for me to tell him about all the things I was crying about, so I just told him the one thing I knew he would care about.
"I've let you down, my friend. I moved out of my old house, and forgot to take your shadow with me, because you know, I kept it hidden... and when I remembered it today and asked around about it, I found out it had been thrown away... I'm so sorry! I- I feel so terrible, because I never meant to keep it forever... I promise I would have given it back, I just liked having something of yours nearby, because it gave me hope that you would return, and now-"
Peter gripped the windowsill hard, tuning out my blubbering apologies and working on a plan. "I remember the house. When does the trash come?" he interrupted me and asked.
I was confused for a minute, but then said, "At the old house? Every Monday..."
"Then it may still be there!" he crowed and shot off into the darkness without another word. I was a bit shocked at his abruptness, and a little offended that he left me in tears... but then, it is Peter, after all, and I sympathize more and more with poor Wendy the more I get to know him.
I tried to calm down and go back to sleep, but I kept my window open for sentimental reasons... and it is a good thing too, because sometime a little later in the evening, I heard him laughing, and then he swooped through my window and into my room. "Look! Look, girl!" he pranced and posed at the foot of my bed. Of course it was pitch dark, so I couldn't see anything, but when I reached over and clicked on the lamp, I saw what made the little bird crow - his shadow stretched from his feet up the wall, mimicking all his clever moves! "You found it! Oh, how did you manage to find it!"
"Well, I went back to that old house - I remembered you, once you said that you had moved and that you had my shadow - and I jumped in the garbage cans and sliced open all the bags until I found it! It made a beautiful mess all over the alley! Then I held it by the heel until I found something to stick it on with..."
"And what did you find?" I asked, completely charmed by his childish joy.
"Well there were all these boxes piled around the place, kept closed with some pretty strong tape, so I pulled some of the tape off, and wrapped it around my ankle and my shadow's ankle together, and we bumbled along like we were in a three-legged race, until I managed to get the other ankle secure, then we came together again nicely like- like-"
"Like a man and his shadow?" I suggested.
"No! Never a man!" he proclaimed.
"Of course," I said. Silly me. "Well, that tape is strong, but it won't last forever. What you really need is someone to sew it on for you. Now, if you go in my mom's sewing room and find a needle and thread..."
And he did. Of course, he picked out a nice bright green thread, which he claimed matched his eyes, and I couldn't disagree. Nor could I bring myself to explain that it didn't match the dark grey of his shadow, I just gently and quickly stitched them together and snipped away the packing tape. Then I sat in bed a little longer, just watching Peter and his shadow dance and play in the lamp light.
Just as he was about to jump out the window again, I said, a little desperately, "I know you don't really have a reason to come visit me anymore, now that you have your shadow back... but, well, would you please come back?"
He hesitated and thought for a minute. "Do you know any stories?" he asked, doubtfully.
"Oh, I know lots of stories! Yes, please, come back often, and I will tell you as many stories as you like!" I said, and he grinned.
"Good! Then keep your window open, and I will return for your stories." The last thing I saw as he flew out the window was the bright green stitches I'd made in the soles of his feet...