She stared, frozen. It couldn’t be real. She had to be losing it. But that didn’t change what she saw.
A shadow stood to her left — it was always to her left. All attempts to define a shape in her head failed. It was just a shadow, not unlike the shadow of a tall shrub, hovering in the middle of the field. Not connected by invisible threads to the nearby tree. Or to an airplane overhead. Or a lone cloud. While she wanted to glance away just to see if anyone else had noticed, she didn’t dare to. What if she never caught it again?
“Hello?” she whispered, afraid that the watchful mothers, playing children, or tennis-ball tossing teenager nearby might hear. None of them seemed to notice.
Again, there was no audible response, but the unmistakable sense of being watched at least seemed to indicate that it was aware of her.
“What are you?” she continued, even more hushed. When nothing changed, she repeated the question a little louder. Then a little louder. But the shadow remained unwaveringly still and silent.
Her startled fascination began to give way to irritation. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Another faint movement interrupted her. This time, to her right. Her eyes couldn’t resist. The tennis ball bounced over her legs, followed by the massive black lab.
“I’m so sorry!” the gawky teenager shouted, chasing the unwieldy dog and tennis ball.
She turned back to the left, but her guess had been right. It was gone.
Not sure whether to be grateful or frustrated, she brushed the slobber off her legs, assured the boy that everything was fine, and wondered what to do next.