Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2016
High School Winners

Third Place

Our third place High School winning entry was written by Arya Ganesan of Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Virginia.

A Shadow

Arya Ganesan

I am a shadow. The dark, restless shadow that persists to budge on a gloomy day. The sticky popcorn that won't get off your teeth. That's me. I am neither one to be recognized as honorable, nor a wanted criminal. I have no ambition, no shiny plaque with my name engraved, not the child a parent can brag wonders with. I'm just your average teenage girl, I suppose.

Childhood is arguably is the best stage of a person's life. You are truly mesmerized of the world around you, nose damp with curiosity. It's full of amusement parks, legos, and finger licking cotton candy. You aren't considered a dud if you can't connect the pieces to a problem, and nobody expects highly of you. Unless you share the genetic makeup of a girl named Sabrina.

It's hard to say you share the same DNA as someone when you can clearly observe that they are better than you in every single way. Sabrina was a scholar, a precocious child with a rich understanding of everything around her. Not to mention a violin prodigy. I found it quite exasperating to listen to her melodious concertos, playing intense staccatos, ricocheting after each measure, while I gaped, struggling to remove my pacifier.

Moreover, my parents clearly appeared to be ever so supportive of this obvious social hierarchy. Whatever Sabrina had to do, whether it was to rehearse for a school play, or meet friends, it took precedence over everything else. Sabrina was the apple of their eyes. Who could blame them? I for one diligently played the role of Sabrina's tail.

Oh, how I desperately wanted to be like her! I wanted to be the social butterfly, the one teachers were always buzzing about in the lounge. So much for playing favorites, huh? I recall how many science fiction movies I must have watched to try and learn the mystery behind cloning. From time to time, I would have somewhat of an emotional breakdown, wailing against our sleek, mahogany table with shame. My mother would then grudgingly walk over to me and give me her rehearsed speech neatly copied from a parenthood forum. She would whisper nonchalantly, "You may be identical on the outside, but you are both so unique on the inside. Embrace it."

I used to be infuriated by this, but I would always give my sincere plastered smile, and silently walk away to my chamber of secrets. My room was a gray, empty space of darkness. Everyone speculated that it was some sort of morgue. Really, the only thing that would pique my attention was my sister's hand me down crystalline watch, which I had fast forwarded seven years. I would stubbornly watch the gears sway from side to side, with a pronounced "tick" every second. I do admire my prolonged optimism however, I didn't think that I had it in me to have something to hope for.

In several years time, middle school days came to an end, and my dutiful parents shipped me off to a boarding school the other side of the country, much to my dismay. Those were the most grueling set of years in my life. I could feel my face turn beet red the moment I heard people snicker behind my back, as if I was their puppet. The workload was bad enough, but I often found myself doing the work of many others just to stay out of the radar. I was ridiculed by loathsome professors, betrayed by my peers, and misused. I never cared for friends, though I highly doubt if I would have found any either way. It was just me, it was always just me.

I arrived back to the house just in time for Sabrina's lavish graduation party. The place just wasn't home to me anymore. Sabrina and her high school circle of friends were all grinning ear to ear as Sabrina cut her cobalt blue cake my mother had labored hours to make. I've always wondered how it would feel to have a cake like that specially baked for me.

As we parted our ways, mother and father already had eyes glazed with tears, ready to burst any minute. We ate a light casserole for supper before we called it a day. Sabrina glanced up at me and squinted for a few seconds before saying, "Goodbye." Her strawberry blonde hair whipped my face, as I muttered, "Bye."

My eyes wandered up against my ceiling for hours and hours, until my hands clutched onto my watch as if it was a stimulus. My eyes bulged as I read the same date as it was seven years ago at such a desolate time, like so. "Tick , tick.." the watch sounded. I quietly approached my sister's princess suite, as I replied "Bye," this time more pronounced. I glanced at my identical at slumber. I screamed with all my might, "I am not an average girl!"

I ran back in my room, my heartbeat louder than a snare drum. My breathing started to become raspy, and my throat was parched from tension. I tore one of my locks as it tumbled to the floor. I grabbed a handheld mirror from a cupboard as I gazed into my reflection. "My name is Rache," I mouthed as I stared relentlessly in the transparent glass. It would be the only form of me that I would ever have to see again.

Continue to the 2nd place story

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