My Invisible Shadow

Maggie Macchiarola

Google’s dictionary defines shadowing as the process of “follow[ing] and observ[ing] (someone) closely and typically secretly.” At AOSE, a shadow typically describes a precocious eighth grader who shows an interest in our school and spends the day tagging along and observing a freshman in action. In my experience, however, shadows can be quite elusive. Let me explain.


On the night of November 5th, I was assigned my first shadow. Other girls had been showing prospective students the ropes and I was happy to finally have my turn. I knew I needed to act responsibly, as she was my first and could be my last if I did not do a good job. I dialed her mother later that night and put on my best grown up voice. “I am calling to prep your daughter for her visit tomorrow to the Academy of St. Elizabeth,” I announced proudly. My shadow’s mom was surprised. She explained that her daughter was changing the date of her visit to next Tuesday. I was upset, but I was aware I would see her in six days.


After I waited excitedly for a week, the day finally came. Promptly, at 7:50 a.m., I met Mrs. Jackson at the front door to await the arrival of my shadow. I was standing with three of my classmates and all of their shadows came. Morning announcements rolled around and after a quick duck into the study hall, I again awaited her arrival. She never came. I went to first period and as I left…no shadow. The day went by and still…no shadow. 2:55 came, and STILL NO SHADOW!


My science textbook says that a shadow may disappear with a lack of light. I went home wondering whether my shadow’s disappearance was somehow related to my academics – was I not bright enough? In a panic, I opened my computer and searched “where is my shadow?” The first result was very interesting. Apparently, people often confuse a shadow with a phantom. And, Merriam-Webster defines a phantom as “something apparent to sense but with no substantial existence.” Just then, I received an email telling me that my shadow twice cancelled was rescheduling. Apparently, November 28th is the day. Let’s hope she’s real this time!