I woke up.
The shadow was there.
Against the billowing linen curtains I had painstakingly spent two days at a thrift store hunting down, it waved, dancing in and out of the folds, basking in the square of sunlight. It was humanoid in form; but not my own.
Long, elegant fingers raised over its head in greeting. Hi there, it seemed to say.
Who are you? I asked.
Don’t you recognize my shape? I get to visit you once every year. I’ve done this more times than I can remember.
What do you mean? I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I was having a soundless conversation with a shadow. I was dreaming - yes that was it. But the bed seemed a little too soft, and the sunlight a little too warm to convince myself.
In the 25th century, we get to visit our past selves every year. The shadow cocked its head - her head - my head.
Um. No. I shook my head. Blinked once. Twice. Swiveled my head towards the blank wall on the far side of the room, then back towards the curtains. The shadow was still there.
I see you’re a little disoriented. I know. It was pretty weird at first, but you’ll understand soon enough. The shadow seemed to twinkle. I could only stare, dumbstruck.
The shadow cocked its head. Perhaps now is not the best time to visit you. You have a long, long way to go. I’ll take my leave now, then. Till we meet again!
It tucked a sliver of shadow behind its ear and waggled its fingers again, still outstretched over its head.
Then it flew out of the square of sunlight, merging flawlessly with the shadowed curtain.
I stared at those curtains for a good half hour. The next morning, I replaced them.