Fear. That was the first emotion that I had felt. As I opened my eyes, something felt...strange, different. I was laying on the ground, but I couldn’t seem to feel the ground, where am I? I sat up slowly, examining my surroundings. I was in the woods, the woods looked quite green, and I could hear the faint sound of waves crashing onto the rocks. The sound of the waves were comforting, I’m still in Otis, Oregon.

 

 

Suddenly, I hear a familiar voice behind me, but the voice was scared, full of trepidation, “Finn, is that you?” Mo, it has to be Mo, I could never forget her quiet voice.  I turn, only to be met by a dark, shadow-like figure. I ghasp, and then I look down at my own feet, then, at my hands, my arms. I was the same, dark creature, just as she was. I felt as if I were some sort of ghost, moving with the wind, to and fro. “M-Mo? Is that you?” She hesitates, and nods slowly, I can barely make out her movements; she has no features, no face. There’s simply a dark shadow.

As we begin to sort out the series of events that occurred, we’re suddenly interrupted, “Guys, oh my, look! I can put my hand completely through my body! Isn’t that marginally neat? I bet our regular, mundane human bodies couldn’t do that, now, could they?” Mo and I instantly know who that ecstatic, optimistic voice belongs to, Ezra. Although I couldn’t see his face, the silhouette of Ezra’s long, curly hair still lived on, and it was quite the sight to see. Mo and I both laugh, “Yes, Ezra, I suppose that is a positive way to look at our situation, but let’s have a look around out here, to see if there is anything that should lead us to how we became like this,” said Mo.

 

I’m unsure as to where to look to see how we became like this, so I start walking back to where I woke up, on the ground. I was facing a tall tree, when I saw an old, crumpled piece of paper, nailed onto the tree. I called Mo and Ezra over, to have a look. The paper had words on it, it read “Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” The quote sounded familiar, it was an old Maori proverb, but what could it mean? Ezra chimed in, “I know what this means, let’s go out in the sun! Of course, all we have to do is get out of this cold, dreary forest and out into the sun, come on guys!”

 

Eventually, we found our way to the old Otis Café; we always go there after school, so we instinctively went there. I suppose that it was around 12 p.m whenever we arrived, because the sun was shining quite brightly. As we stood there, for what seemed like ages, Mo finally said, “Ezra, I’m not seeming to believe that your interpretation of the letter was correct, our shadows aren’t seeming to fade at all, our dark figures are only getting more prominent.” Now, 12 p.m was lunch hour for most people, and many began piling into the café, but one particular woman laid her eyes on us. Before we had time to react, she let out a ghastly scream, and multiple people turned their eyes onto the three of us. They all began to shout, saying that the café was haunted, and panic was arising from the crowd. We all decided that we shouldn’t go back in public, at least not while the sun was shining.

Otis, Oregon is not usually the sunny, warm place to be, so the sun didn’t shine for long. The skies turned dark, cloudy, a storm was beginning to take place. First, the raindrops were light, almost nonexistent, and then it began to pour. Our shadows were barely noticed, and no one, from what we inferred, could see us. “Hey, I can’t feel the rain, I guess we can’t feel anything, actually. This is so odd, I can’t feel the ground, or the wind, or the rain. Everything is numb. Is this how it feels to be a ghost?,” I say. “Maybe, but enjoy it while you’re like this, you’re practically invincible, Finn!,” says Ezra. More people began to overhear our conversations, so we eventually found our way back to the woods; we didn’t want to cause the whole town to think that Otis, Oregon was haunted with ghosts and ghouls.

Whenever we arrived back into our dwelling of the woods of Otis, I came to a startling realization, “I haven’t been hungry, or tired, all day. Not only can we feel nothing, we also don’t have to eat or sleep. What are we going to do all day and night?” “Well, we could go Drift Creek Falls. Ezra, you’ve always wanted to go there, right? But we’ve never had any time to go do that, so let’s go now. It’s only a few miles from here, it’s still in Otis,” Mo suggested. By then, Ezra was overly-excited, and he could barely compose himself, so we decided to begin walking to Drift Creek Falls.

 

It was dawn by the time we arrived, and the sun was just rising. The view of Drift Creek Falls, was surreal. The forest was oak-brown and olive-green, giving it a primitive vibe, but the most astonishing feature was the waterfalls, cascading off of the cliffs, the water, crashing down into the river. Ezra froze into his place, and he stood, taking in the beauty, as was Mo. The 3 of us were in awe, and in that moment, I knew that we would remember this, forever. Ezra broke the silence, “Hey, Finn, do you remember whenever I told you that you’re invincible? We can’t feel pain, none of the dangers of life apply to us anymore,” and without warning, Ezra climbed over the bridge’s ropes, and jumped.

I was sure that he was dead, how could he not be? Before I could protest, Mo laughed, and jumped hundreds of feet down, into the water. Unsure of what to do next, I found myself climbing over the ropes. The drop would most definitely kill anyone, it was quite daunting to even look down. I’m invincible as this shadow, I can do anything, right? So, I jump. The jump was short, and I couldn’t feel the impact, I couldn’t feel the water washing over my face.

I hear Ezra calling from behind “Finn, you can breathe underwater! Go under, open your eyes, look at all of the fish down here, it’s incredible!” Overwhelmed by the series of events, I sink down into the water, and it’s a whole different world. Everything is slow moving, and placid. The fish, the algae, everything, is slowly passing by, unaware of our presence. I could stay down here for ages, I’ve never seen anything as magical as this underwater utopia.

 

All day, we stayed in the area of Drift Creek Falls. Everything seemed to be okay in those moments, and I believe that we all began to get accustomed to this lifestyle. Ezra and Mo talked of the things that they were going to do as shadows, and it’s as if we were starting to forget that we were even humans before this. But then, during the night, reality set in. As we laid under the stars, Mo started thinking out loud, “Finn, what happens if we’re never humans again? Will we always have to live in the shadows, do you think we’ll ever get a job, or have friends? What if we never feel anything again? I miss feeling the cool air, and the wind, and the rain. I miss everything. I miss eating food and I even miss sleeping.” I started thinking, “I know, so do I. We have to find a way to escape these shadow figures. It’ll be okay, Mo, I’ll find a way I promise.”

As the night passed on, and daylight came again, Ezra, in his forever-rhapsodic mood, started singing the old songs that we used to listen to. “Come On Eileen” was one of his favorites, so, as usual, he began wailing the song as loud as he possibly could, while holding his arms out and attempting to walk on a long, fallen log. Then suddenly, an unfamiliar voice was heard, “Hello? Where are your faces?” I turn slightly, only to see a small girl, no older than 8, staring at the three of us. She looked quite unique, with long, blonde hair and unnaturally golden eyes. We didn’t know what to say, I was expecting the girl to scream, or to run, possibly even cry, but there she stood, continuing to stare, waiting for an answer. As I was about to speak up, Ezra began, “Well, small child, we’re shadows and we don’t know where our faces have gone. You should know, I’m Ezra, that’s Mo, and that’s Finn. We’re just some confused 16 and 17 year old teenagers in the woods, and that is all we know.”

 

The girl nodded, understanding Ezra’s words. She seemed to be intrigued, rather than anything else. “Well, where exactly are your parents? Do they know that you’re out here, are you lost?,” asked Mo in a benign tone. “I like going on nature walks. I come down here all of the time, my mom knows where I am,” responded the girl. She seemed to be much more mature than her age let on. “What is your name?,” I ask.

“My name is Xia, and I’m 8,” she responds. “Where are your friends? Why aren’t you out playing with your friends today? It’s the weekend, isn’t it?,” I ask. She seemed to be in a negative musing now, “I don’t have any friends. No one likes me, they all call me weird, and they don’t talk to me because I’m different.” As we continue to talk to her, we relate to much of what she says. We begin to befriend her, and she says that she would like to take us to one of her favorite places in Otis, Oregon.

“This place is hidden to a lot of people, because they don’t want to go off the trails,” said Xia. She leads us to the furthest part of the coast of Otis, surrounded by rocks. This place seems as if it’s its own world. It seems distant from all of the other places in Otis, even the appearance is different. It seems more old, with more history to it. The rocks are larger, and more eroded, the sea is more green. As I climb on top of one of the rocks, I start to realize something: my black shadow seems to be more of a dark gray. I suppose it’s the lighting, so I simply shrug it off.

But soon, there are startling changes. Through the days that Mo, Ezra, and I are around Xia, we all notice our changes. We begin to feel tired, and weak. Our stomachs feel quite empty, and our shadows are now dark shades of colors. The feelings, our senses, come back in waves. Xia notices as well, but she says nothing of it, when suddenly…

We awaken on the top of the rock that Xia had once shown us. As I sit up, I look at my hands and arms, pale white. I turn to find Mo and Ezra, I see their old faces. I see their features. I see Mo’s short, blonde hair, and her green eyes. I look over to see Ezra, his long, black curly hair, and brown eyes. We smile at eachother, I think we’ve all missed each other's faces. But there’s one question that we’re all thinking: How did we turn back into our human forms?

We eventually find Xia, sitting up on the Drift Creek Falls bridge. She seems to be in a state of reverie, but she also seems to be lost. “Xia, do you know who we are?,” I ask hesitantly. She turns, “Yes, I know your voices, you have faces now, you look different. How did you do it?” “Well, Xia, we were hoping that you would know the answer to that!” replied Ezra in his most joyful tone. Mo bent down to Xia’s height, and spoke calmly, “Xia, I want to explain this to you in a way that you’ll understand. I’m having flashbacks, from whenever we first woke up as shadows, and the only clue as to how to reverse what had happened, was a note on a tree. The note said ‘Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you,’ do you have any idea as to what that could mean?” Xia’s eyes widened, and she smiled, “My name means the glow of the sunrise, that could mean something, right?”

We all stared at each other in disbelief. Xia was the reason that we’re human again. The note said to turn our faces towards the sun, and our shadows will subside. We befriended Xia, and our shadows fell behind us. As we thank Xia, she tells us that she’s made friends at school, and that more people are starting to like her. After our experience with becoming shadows, Ezra, Mo and I vowed to never take life for granted again.