Children's, Short Stories

The Shadow-Swallowers

In the curves of the trees, in the places hidden from the sun’s harsh rays and within leaping distance to the refreshing coolness of the bubbling creek, live the Shadow Swallowers. They are so called because they seem to live off of nothing but shadows. But within their own race, they are simply called Beings.

These Beings slumber during the day in the crooks of damp roots, their little fingers grasping onto each other with primate-like dexterity. To any passersby who might happen to glance across the creek at their hidden home, the little dreaming bodies appear as burrowed rocks, small dimples speckling its smoky gray surface. But by the time the passerby makes their way across the water to further examine that particular stone, it is gone.

Only the creatures of the light are aware of their presence. They are the last ones to leave the forest before the Beings scamper out from their hiding spots, batting the water with their fingers and examining the crumbling leaves on the banks. As the light creatures drift away, they can sometimes hear the pitter patter of their feet on the ground.

Despite their shadow-swallowing natures, the Beings are drawn to the light. For every campfire that a camper lights, there are dozens of Beings crouching in the shadows thrown by the dark trees. As the fire sways and breathes, so do the shadow creatures, their little bodies rocking back and forth in time to the ebb and flow of the firelight. If you listen closely, you can hear them humming lightly, their voices floating like puffs of dandelions in a summer breeze, or flakes of ash from a dying flame.

When the light creatures return to dance amongst the rocks and waves, the Beings return to their place of slumber. Huddled in the safety of the dark, these small creatures dream of the light.

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Published by Suzanne Wdowik

Suzanne Wdowik

Suzanne Wdowik is a third year student at the University of Michigan studying Creative Writing and English, with a minor in Mathematics. She has aspired to be an author for as long as she can remember, and though she does not currently have any published novels, she is featured in the David Bowie/Alan Rickman tribute anthology Stardust, Always, as well as co-writing multiple short stories in the anthology 72 Hours of Insanity.

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