Once upon a time, a young boy named Ethan was bored and looking for someone to play with. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters and, when he approached his parents to play with him, they would tell him to go outside and find something to do by himself. Ethan wandered around his backyard for some time, throwing sticks and picking seeds off of the trees. He then decided to have a bit more purpose and dug through his outside play-box, searching for something to entertain him. He stumbled across a packet of chalk he used when he was younger and remembered drawing pictures on the concrete pavers creating a walkway through the back garden. Ethan took out a piece of white chalk and went to draw a sunflower on one of the pavers when he noticed another boy right beside him, also wanting to draw.
Ethan jumped back with fright. He had no idea where this other boy had come from or how he had managed to have a piece of chalk in his hand. The boy was slightly taller than Ethan, but Ethan noticed that he had the same hairstyle. The boy also looked as though he wore the same style of shirts and shorts as Ethan, though it was hard to tell because the other boy wore nothing other than black clothes. Ethan waved to the boy and the boy immediately waved back. Ethan figured the boy must be shy, so he took the first step in helping them become friends.
“Hi,” he said. “My name’s Ethan. Nice to meet you.”
“Hello,” replied the boy. “My name’s Ethan as well.”
Ethan responded with a chuckle, “Oh? OK. That might get confusing. Do you have a nickname?”
“I sometimes get called Shadow,” the boy replied.
“Well, what would you like to do, Shadow?”
Ethan went on to explain that he loved football and wondered if Shadow would like to join him in the backyard for a game using the football from his play-box.
“That sounds perfect,” responded Shadow.
For the next twenty-five minutes, Ethan and Shadow played an intense game of football. After playing the game on his own by kicking the football against the fence for so many years, Ethan could hardly believe that he had found someone as equally as good at the game. Shadow managed to have the ball just as much as Ethan did, and, by the time Ethan ended the game due to exhaustion, the score for both the boys remained tied. Taking a moment to catch his breath and rest for a minute, Ethan went to sit under the shade of a tree towards the edge of the garden. He wanted to discuss the highlights of the match with Shadow but he was nowhere to be found. Ethan stood up and called out.
“Shadow! Where are you?” but there was no response. Ethan ran towards the gate of his backyard and stopped just before opening it, as he nearly ran into shadow who met him on the other side.
“Where did you go?” Ethan asked with a hint of worry in his voice.
“I went to have a rest as well,” responded Shadow.
“Well, I don’t like it when you run off like that. I don’t like being alone.”
Ethan suggested that they two of them should climb a tree together and Shadow agreed that it would be good to do something relaxing after a long game of football.
Branch by branch, the two boys climbed the tree that grew above the fence lining Ethan’s backyard. Ethan noticed that Shadow was sometimes beside him on a different branch and, at other times, was above or below him. Once they had climbed as high as they were willing to go, they sat beside each other on a comfortable branch, peacefully watching the sunset over the rooftops scattered across Ethan’s neighbourhood.
“I have to go home, soon,” said Shadow.
Ethan kept his eyes on the horizon, watching as the sun dipped below the mountains. “I don’t want you to go,” he said. “Will you come back tomorrow?”
Shadow didn’t respond and Ethan looked around in panic when he didn’t see Shadow beside him. He realised there was no use calling out this time, and he hurried down the tree, trying to beat the dark.
Although he had made a new friend, Ethan went to bed that night feeling more lonely than usual and, as his mother tucked him in and said goodnight, he asked her if he could leave his night light on.
“Of course, Honey,” she said as she switched it on and closed his bedroom door behind her.
Laying in the dim light shining over his bedroom, Ethan rolled over to try and get some sleep. He couldn’t hide his smile when he looked across his bedroom and saw that Shadow was still there with him, resting in preparation for the busy day ahead of them tomorrow.
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