So here I am again. Just you and I, my dear shadow. Shadow of my disjointed self, stacked high like used teacups, some full, never touched with a past as simple as good manners. Others with a burnt sienna ring, memories of an enjoyed roasted bean, clinging to one corner of the porcelain bottom, the way a rough rust covers the newness of neglected patio furniture partially under cover. Each cup, unsteady, none level as they do their best to fit in a stack they never were meant to erect. Each sized in a rhythmless manner, fused together for only one hand in this world, but instead settling for the company I invited. It’s just you and I, my dear shadow. Ragged bones, fleshed out with aged tendons and worn cartilage, heavily salted to minimize the rancid nature of its dissection. Tough to the sharpest tooth, a skin cannibals would shy away from, stumble knee and ankle to stumps for, claw nails into muddy earth and manifest energy from starvation to pull ground between. Choosing rather to die again, and again, and again before wearing or choking on my shell. Pro and con weighed, time capsule tombs deciding exponential death wouldn’t taint their lifeless souls the way the sustenance of my own offering would. Please’ let me stand with you, I can hear myself say beneath my tired and desperate breath. But I can only watch as it falls and fades into the silent void between me and anyone. Anything. Everything. Silence. Looks like it’s just you and I, my dear shadow. My soul mate. My love. My best friend, my enemy, my boss and student. My family and my neighbor, my countryman and my comrade. It’s you and I. You never leave me, always by my side, and to you, I can do no wrong. You complete me, my being intact only when you show your silhouette. It was you and I, my dear shadow, as my hand, palms down and outstretched, reached to the ground to hold your hand, my anchor to this world – until I watched, desperately, as you let go and bled into my peripherals, my anchor lost in a gust announcing the arrival of darkness. Alone I found myself; my being incrementally betrayed, as the sun had already set on my warmest day, giving way to a cold, moon-less night. My shadow had left me, my friend no more. For in the middle of the night is when the lonely are lonliest, their failure the loudest, their broken shards the sharpest. For in the middle of the night, at the height of our plight, in the quietest of self-sabotage, there is no one left to protect the lonely, undulating failure in a sea of haunted memories. Perhaps the viscous fertilizing cells that fall and fill the oceans, my newest of friends, borne from emulsion of good memories and world shattering decisions that pool at my feet, expanding and nurturing the collateral damage of my existence, will stay with me longer than my shadow chose to, unattached to the position of fission in the sky. Perhaps it never was my shadow that I had befriended; rather, it was simply the thought that it was the only one who would stay by my side that was my true confidant. Without it, I find that my choices are the intangibles that cling to me like nicotine yellows all without prejudice. Taking my cues from the muted smoke plumes that have no fear of others boundaries, I will wade into a certain friendship with my enemies, without fear of trespassing – even if my enemies, in the end, are just my past wind-strewn paths of destruction carved into the lives of those I held closer to me than even my dear shadow.