Shadow Puppets

I grab my Nook and click on the tiny attached reading light. It’s dark in our bedroom, and the way the light is twisted means that when it turns on, it shines full-force into The Bean’s eyes. He lets out a yelp and squeezes his eyes shut.

“Sorry, sorry!” I mutter, twisting the light to face the ceiling. “Yeesh, that’s bright. Do they really think we need that much light to read a book?

The Bean shrugs and mutters something noncommittal, settling into bed beside me.

I play with the light a bit more, twisting it on different parts of the room, shining it in corners to play with the shadows.

Ooooh! Shadows!

“Here, hold this!” I say, dropping the Nook into The Bean’s hands. “Look!” I put my hand in front of the light and make a shadow dog. “Woof. Woof, woof! Woof. Aaaa-ooooooo!” The “dog” tilts his head back, howling quietly. I grin over at The Bean and discover that he is somehow managing to look down his nose at me, even though we’re both lying flat in bed.

“Oh yeah? I’d like to see you do a better one.”

Silently, The Bean hands the Nook light to me. He takes his time preparing for his shadow puppet, stretching and arranging his fingers just so. Finally, he balls up a fist, wiggling his knuckles slightly. I stare at the ceiling, transfixed, watching the slow curves of the shadow move, undulate, twisting and transforming slowly into….

A giant shadow of him flipping me off.

“Hah, hah, hah,” I shove the Nook light back at him. It’s my turn again, and I decide to impress him. I mean, he probably doesn’t know he’s married to someone who used to be really well-known for her shadow-puppet abilities.

“Here, look, I made this one up when I was eight.” I smile in expectation, remembering the way my sister and I used to make shadow puppets on the walls of our bedroom, their forms wavering and indistinct in the dim light. “Look! It’s a giraffe! And it’s eating a tree!”

I grimace at my first attempt – it looks awful. In fact, it doesn’t really look like a mammal at all. It just looks lie a hand crippled with arthritis, trying to grab at the shadow of another hand. Hmm. That’s not very magical. I twist my hand several different ways, trying to recreate my favorite, but it’s no use. My hands are thicker, older, and I’m too out of practice. “Well, I mean, just pretend. See? It’s a giraffe. Eating. Nom, nom, nom.” Against the starkness of our ceiling something resembling a creepy sea monster makes chewing motions at… well, at my other hand balled up into a fist.

“You know, I remember it looking much cooler.”

“Suuuuure,” says The Bean, rolling his eyes.

“Fine,” I snap. “Look.” I cross my thumbs, and spread the “wings” of my hands majestically. “It’s an eagle!”

Against the ceiling, a spidery-looking bird jerks its wings spastically. I study the overly-long pinion feathers formed by my fingers and decide that it’s not an eagle, but rather a sickly crow.

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” I flap my hands again…

And feel The Bean’s free hand slide slowly up my side, in warm invitation.

“Caw… Caw… Caw…” The bird makes a few more pathetic attempts at flaps before disintegrating as I reach over to the Bean, kissing him deeply. The mood of our bedroom changed drastically, and the air grows warmer.

Except…

“Bean,” I whisper.

“Mmm?”

“Bean, wait.”

“Mmmmm?”

“Bean, can we do this another night?”

He leans back, looking at me quizzically. “What’s wrong?”

“I…. I wasn’t done making hand puppets,” I admit, guiltily.

With a disgruntled look, The Bean flops back onto his side of the bed. The Nook light clicks back on, blindingly bright in our dim room.

“Caw! Caw, caw!” The sickly crow flutters happily on the ceiling, drowning out The Bean’s heavy sigh.

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3 thoughts on “Shadow Puppets

  1. Pickles Marie Tinydog loves shadow puppets. She will run and chase and fling herself at the wall or floor anytime she sees a shadow. Yes, OCD. Yes, it's a good thing that she lives with me in the Swamp, where the sun rarely shines and shadows require the help of a Nook which I don't have.

    She would like to see your giraffe.

    Like

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