Shandra looked out the window. Other children were playing ball. She wished she had friends. Sometimes Mama and Papa played hide-and-seek with her or read to her, but it wasn’t the same.
“May I go outside?” she asked.
Mama sat on the sofa watching shadows move across a TV screen. “The light from the sun will make you disappear.”
“Mama, please.” The big yellow sun shone down on grass and big houses. It didn’t look scary.
“Grandma told me about a boy who went into the light,” Mama said. “No one ever saw him again.”
Shandra watched the other children.
Mama went to the kitchen to fix black bean soup and licorice cake for lunch.
Shandra tiptoed to the front door. She opened the door and rushed outside. The light felt warm on her face.
“May I play?” Shandra asked as she ran toward the children.
“I’d like to play ball,” she said.
“Did you hear something?” Katy asked.
“Do you see anyone?” Shannon asked.
Shandra grabbed Katy’s wrist.
Katy screamed. “I felt something touch me,” she said.
“I did. I touched you,” Shandra said. She ran from one to the other and grabbed their hands. They all looked frightened. She wondered why. Then she looked at her hand, and it wasn’t there.
“Who are you?” Gary asked.
“Why can’t we see you?” Shannon asked.
“We live in the darkness. Mama said I would disappear if I came into the light.”
“I don’t understand,” Shannon said.
“I bet I know,” Gary said. “When you turn on a light, the darkness disappears.”
“Are you a shadow?” Katy asked.
“No!” said Shandra. “I’m just as real as you are.”
“If we all go under the tree, maybe then we can see you.” Rob said.
“Because there’s a shadow there!” Shannon said.
“I see you,” Katy said. “I see you.”
“Now you can play with us,” Rob said. He threw her the ball.
“Shandra!” Mama called. “Where are you? Lunch is almost ready.”
“I’m here, Mama,” Shandra called.
“Oh, my goodness, I hope you aren’t outside.”
“I’m with my friends.”
“Your friends?” Mama asked.
“The children I saw playing.”
“Are you feeling all right? Do you have any pains?”
Shandra laughed. “I’m fine, Mama. When I go into the shadows under the tree, my friends can see me.”
“Oh, my,” Mama said.
“May my friends eat lunch with us?” Shandra asked.
Inside, it was very dark. Rob stubbed his toe. The other children bumped into furniture.
“Ow,” said Rob.
“Double ow,” said Shannon.
“Here,” Shandra said grabbing Katy’s hand, “I’ll lead you to the chairs.”
Gary ran to the window and stuck his hand outside. “I didn’t disappear,” he said.
Mama dished up the bean soup and cut big pieces of cake.
“Mama?” Shandra said. “I have friends now. I won’t have to be lonely again.”