Short Stories

Mani and the shadow friend

Mani was very fond of playing. As soon as I was back from school, I had a snack, did my homework, and went to play. She loved to stroll through the woods that started in front of her house and only ended up right by the beach.

The woods were not very big. It was not a real forest, with huge trees and many animals, where one might even get lost. No. It was Mani who, from a young age, imagined that he, with those centuries-old, moss-covered logs that enchanted her, was almost magical. Mani imagined that the trees led her to a very special place she had to find on her own. That was populated with fairies and magical animals, enchanted beings, witches and shadows. Oh, with the shadows, she had to pay attention!

Mani had already had many conversations with the inhabitants of that magical forest. Of course he knew it was all her imagination, though sometimes the conversation with the dwarves and fairies was so interesting and she learned so much that Mani wasn’t quite sure if she had imagined it or not.

One afternoon Mani sat against the trunk of a large tree and… something very strange happened to him. Even VERY weird!

Mani was very quiet watching a little bird bounce from branch to branch – and wondering how she would like to have a tiny house hidden deep in the branches of a tree – when two twin girls holding hands appeared in front of her … VERY alike. with her. So similar, they looked more like their shadow.

– Hello, Mani! Don’t you know us? I am Nima and this is my shadow. I live inside you. I always walk with you, I know all about you. We can even say that I’m like … Look, like your shadow! I know sometimes you would like to have someone to tell you a lot of the things that go through your head, a lot of what you feel. If you want, I can be your special friend. By the way, I think really VERY special. After all, I know all your secrets, don’t you? My shadow likes to play and talk too, but you shouldn’t pay much attention to it. We are born together and we can never separate, so we always go hand in hand everywhere. It’s called Nima-Shadow.

– What a fantastic idea! But why did you only appear now?

“Because only now should I show up.” Everything has its own height… So, let’s be friends?

– Sure!

And that’s it, from that day on, Mani’s life changed completely. She, Nima, and Nima-Shadow spent hours talking and soon became very friendly. Mani told them many things about her life, which Nima listened to very carefully. Nima tried to help her. When Mani didn’t know what to do at any given time, she asked Nima, who never failed to direct her. And that was the big change in Mani’s life.

Nima had a very special voice. A serious voice that made Mani feel like he was growing. Each time Mani followed his advice, he was happy. Admittedly, Nima told her to do things that sometimes cost a little bit, but, funny thing, Mani got a good feeling. I felt I had done the right thing, I don’t know if you understand me. I felt that… that I had grown up.

And Mani listened to that voice from inside her.

Nima-Shadow no longer liked it so much. Although she was Nima’s twin, she was very different from her. He had, for example, a weird, squeakier voice. And it was a little lazy. I will explain: her voice was not so adult nor so sensible. He spoke almost like a clown and after a while also tried to tell her what to do. Only, as she was lazy, she always told Mani to go the easy way. Then he rubbed his hands together and laughed softly each time Mani did what she wanted. Mani knew Nima was sad, so she could never sleep well that night. And curiously, when Mani did what the Shadow told her, she felt like a puppet, as if she wasn’t quite doing it.

I have to tell you that Mani was also a little – but not very – lazy, and that may have been why she began to listen more to the Nima-Shadow’s clown voice. For example, once at school, Mani didn’t know whether to go home soon or explain the math exercises to Susana, the classmate. These were the things Mani asked Nima. If it were you, surely they would help Susana but Mani followed the clown voice and replied:

– Oh, Susana. Can you stay for another time? Now I have to go home because my mother is leaving, and I still have to do Portuguese homework – which was not true.

Again she answered her mother:

– Mom, I can’t take care of Thomas because I have to finish this drawing.

Then she began not to help her mother set the table:

– I’m going! – and still watching the cartoons.

The piano teacher asked him if he had studied. Of course the clown voice had said that it was more fun to go play in the woods than to study piano… And in class, that high-pitched voice murmured that it said yes, that it had studied.

The teacher, who soon realized that she hadn’t even looked at the keys, scolded Mani, and rightly so…

And what happened to Nima? It has started to weaken and get sick many times. It’s just that the more you obey a voice, the stronger that voice gets… The clown’s voice got so loud that Nima-Shadow even increased in size. Became Mani’s new shadow !!! This was a horror, the worst thing that ever happened to her! Mani was even guided by the Nima-Shadow.

One day her mother had received many friends at home and had made many desserts. Mani and Nima-Shadow were crazy about candy, cakes, gums, chocolates… When Nima-Shadow saw the candy on the table, Mani had his mother ask if he could eat chocolate mousse.

– Of course yes. But be careful. Do not eat too much, otherwise you still get tummy aches! – and the mother gave the mousse to Mani.

When Mani finished the mousse, Nima-Shadow saw the whipped cream cake and the jelly. And thought it best not even ask the mother! Then it was the rice pudding and the chocolates. Nima shouted: “Stop, stop!” Mani didn’t want to eat but couldn’t stop and Shadow-Nima scooped spoonfuls of everything she saw on her table. That night Mani slept very badly with a stomachache… and not only.

Was it possible for her to break free of Nima-Shadow and decide her life again, alone and in Nima’s calm voice? He decided to start that fight the next day.

If Mani managed to beat Nima-Shadow and be alone with Nima? No. The two Nimas could not live apart. The shadows never fade.

The only thing we can do is make them small and weak. We have to learn that we all have a clown-voice Nima-Shadow inside us that never goes away. We have to find out what she likes best, sense when she is giving us orders, and we should never try to follow her clown voice. Of course, sometimes we fall for it and listen to it, but we won’t be crying all day for it! We must take advantage of this mistake to learn how to listen more to the calm Nima. We must learn to distinguish when it is she and when it is the Nima-Shadow that speaks to us.

This is what Mani did: he tried never to let the Shadow Nima give her orders or do anything for her. Little by little, the calm-voice Nima gradually healed and grew stronger. And the best combat trick was never to pretend that Clown-voice Nima no longer lived inside her! Mani preferred to know all the tricks to be able to always give her the best! All my life!

And this is the secret of Mani’s happiness!

What else happened? They will not believe it! Mani was able, with the help of Nima’s calm, to find his way through the woods to the magical place that the trees always seemed to indicate! I. Birnbaum

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