Pascal Derrien

4 years ago · 4 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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Shadow Boy

Shadow Boy

Not always easy to make new acquaintances when you blow in a hood where you don’t know anybody. Sometimes you get picked on because you have a different accent or because people don’t warm easily to novelty. Now I had become a master at integrating new environments since I was born and changing schools two or three times a year did not really phase me.

I overheard a conversation once where my dad said to somebody I had never met that I was a loner. It is true that I had a high level of autonomy and a lot of cope on for a 9-year-old but this was more by accident rather than design. You know what? It’s almost tiring having to justify why you don’t have childhood friends when asked where you come from.

It was the last week of April and the first of May was approaching fast, a bank holiday in France that would give me an extra day off to accustom myself to the new city we had moved in for god only knows how long. Nice little town in the south of France I must say, the house was spacious and my room sunny for once.

It was a town house an accommodation on the posh side of things compared to the social apartment lost in a high rise complex we lived in the previous six months. I did not like the last place we stayed, somewhere in the north of France, I thought it was inhabited by soulless automats and the days were always dull. Even the sun was probably taking Prozac and I suspect people only laughed when they burned themselves.

Citrus or Orange? This was miss Dural the owner of the Boulangerie Patisserie / Candy Store asking me what flavour I wanted for my fav pop gums? My first day in my new school was over and I was introduced to this place by Ariel my new table partner and best friend to be. Ariel was nearly 11 he was taller and older than me but it seemed we shared the same outcast experience insofar as he had been in another school 2 years prior and was repeating last year’s curriculum mainly because of his dyslexia.

The only difference between the two of us was that he was from this little city in which he had lived all his life so I guess I picked his curiosity with my exotic and nomadic lifestyle, fair to say that I also think my accent made him laugh too.

Ariel became my best friend, we were living in each other’s pocket almost. Fusional friendship it’s called I believe. Ariel lived in the same street than us only a mere 600 metres from our townhouse but he lived in a detached house with a large back garden with wait for it a tree house!!!.

The wooden castle had been made by his dad, a carpenter by trade and his mum gave him a sea of cushions to make it homelier. Like me Ariel had no siblings, so steering away from the tension of my young life I found myself spending more and more time @ Ariel’s, I was even doing my homework there at times and it was not rare for me to go home @ 7.00 just in time to make illusion. Or so I believed because it was probably obvious that I was wearing this rare friendship scent from down the road every time I washed my hands for dinner.

Games, football kicks, comics, films and other crazy stories were shared for almost 9 weeks before the summer break. Our teacher even confirmed on the last day of June that Ariel and I would be in the same class for the next school term.

Ariel went to his grandparents for his holidays in July and I was shipped to my grandfather’s stud in Normandy for the same amount of time. Back in the first week of August the ‘’retrouvailles’’ were a bit gauche between the two of us but it did not last more than a few hours especially when it was agreed with my parents that I could join Ariel’s family on a 3-day week end at the end of the month.

I don’t remember where it was but it was near a beach and we had a tent for the two of us for two nights. Even if it was set up only a couple of feet away from his parent’s tent, we felt we were at large with a bottled concentre of freedom and fun. Those three days went in a flash, I completely blanked out the journey over and back but we had a super time there whether it was playing with colonies of ants or flying our kites, collecting starfish and other shells but the most magical instants were when we played soccer or our all-time favourite shadow catcher game.

With the sun gently warming our young feet, the game consisted in having Ariel’s shadow or mine trying to catch the other one. We laughed, we ran, we ate our heart content and we did not sleep too much, it was uncomplicated and I think I had never been so happy. Ariel almost two years older than me had become my hero, I worshipped him like a big brother.

It was very late the night I was brought home from a week end to remember and I went straight to bed. After a great night sleep, I was starving and looked forward to sharing my first eva week end stories at breakfast when my mum told me she had something to tell me. It was a bit odd as there was a croissant waiting for me on a Monday next to my cafe au lait.

As gently as she could, she broke the news that I would not be back to school with Ariel. The reason being was that we were to move again within the next 10 days for my dad’s next assignment. I stopped smiling, my jaws dropped and I developed a terrible headache.

Sept 15th, second day in this new city and first day in the new school, 250kms east from the previous one. We finished early because its back to school day and I am sitting on a bench. It’s a beautiful day and the sun is high and warm. I can see my black reflection on the ground and I think I was talking to my own shadow when two guys dropped by. I saw them earlier and I knew they were in my class.

One of them asked me who I was talking to, I did not answer but enquired if they were up for a game of shadow catcher. They giggled it was a dumb game and refused point blank, then they got up and left and I could clearly overhear one of them calling me a weirdo.

My shadow was looking at me and almost without thinking I ended up saying you know it is only you and me now. As we got into autumn and winter the following four months seemed very long especially when you have a shadow for best friend you don’t get to see too much of it on rainy days.



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Photo Credit

Shadow 08 unknown photograph

Produced for beBee only

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Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #35

Thanks Deb\ud83d\udc1d Lange indeed but travelled a lot between 18 and 26 including a long spell of time in New York before leaving France and moving to ireland 20 years ago only moved 3 times there and the last time moved from #52 to #42 in the same street :-) Never wrote a book it is for real writers :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #34

thank you Bernard Poulin I am pretty humbled by your comments, I am just a regular guy who likes to play with words and it seems this small vignette for some reasons is resonating with people, it says more about the people who made some comments than the post it self I suppose

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #33

Thanks Pamela \ud83d\udc1d Williams I got into books and music big time after that move to keep me entertained with the other moves to come. It seems you were in great company back then ☺ its kind of you sharing that side of your life

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #32

thanks SO much for sharing that poem Kevin Pashuk :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #31

Many thanks Praveen Raj Gullepalli it doesn resonate indeed the shadow is now behind you :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #30

ah thanks Dean Owen sometimes I manage to come up with something decent...... cheers and enjoy the film :-)

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #29

Love the picture, and the story Pascal Derrien. I can identify with the multiple moves as a kid. My father was transferred to new communities on a fairly regular basis. Your story awoke a memory of a poem that was in a school book from when I was in early grades at school. I only remember the first line, but thanks to Google, it turns out it was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and is quite germane to your post. My Shadow BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, And what can be the use of him is more than I can see. He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head; And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow— Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow; For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball, And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all. He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play, And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way. He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see; I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me! One morning, very early, before the sun was up, I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup; But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head, Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Dean Owen

4 years ago #28

Once in a while I see a movie that I love so much, I watch it again the next day. This happens very rarely for me with articles, but this one is certainly one I will read again, and soon....

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #27

thanks @Harvey Loyd , one to the emotional stop on the journey indeed :-)

Harvey Lloyd

4 years ago #26

What a journey and your writing of it was absorbing. Thanks for the walk @Pascal Derrien.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #25

thanks Bernard Poulin there are few others in that vein under my beBee producer profile but there are greater articles from real writers spread out thru different hives :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #24

many thanks Paul Burge you are very good to me :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #23

Many thanks Sara Jacobovici for your continued support, comment much appreciated :-)

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #22

Pascal Derrien writes straight from the heart.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #21

Straight from the heart Pascal Derrien. Thanks for sharing another chapter. It's great to hear the man talk about the boy.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #20

thanks Javier \ud83d\udc1d beBee an area of focus of mine when I produced posts I must say I often try 4 to 5 different options I like the creativity too in that one I must say :-)

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #19

I love that picture !

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #18

you sure have Pascal!

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #17

many thanks for reading this Lisa \ud83d\udc1d Gallagher, yes indeed we moved so much that it took me a while to lower my guard and then I did...... :-) if anything else and with the other adult stuff going on in the background at that time I suppose I have developed a good survival instinct :-)

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #16

I was so excited reading about your friend Ariel and the shadow game. Such innocence of childhood and how easily we could amuse ourselves FOR FREE, even! Then I read you moved, lost your good friend, and felt so alone with the exception of your shadow Pascal Derrien. Oh the trials and tribulations of growing up. We either grow stronger or cave in from our experiences. Thanks for sharing!

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #15

thanks Wayne Yoshida I have turned down opportunities in Singapore and Seattle partly because I have moved all my life and I am tired of it but also because I did not have the heart to uproot my eldest in particular. Funny you mentioned social media a group of friends from my late teenage years have retraced me 7 months s ago and the 10 of us have been having great time at sharing stories and catching up since :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #14

thanks Ken Boddie absolutely ... the moonlight shadows can bring a sunny smile. Up words and on words :-)

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #13

These are life's exhilirations and gut wrenching inevitabilities that form our future relationships with our chosen circle. The unexpected highs and lows of life, and how we accept them or resist, are our flexible character-moulds. Moon shadows can also. be our friends, Pascal.

Wayne Yoshida

4 years ago #12

Great friendship story, Pascal. Although my family did not move around too much, the timing was awful. I moved away from all of my friends in the middle of my high school junior year. I lost touch with most of them, but managed to stay in touch with one or two to this day, with common interests [electronics and cars] being the most solid connection. (Nice reference to "affinity networking, eh? Looks like I have been practicing beBee when I was a kid.) I guess kids these days have social media to stay in touch.

I wrote a post on complexity has its shadow. Your shadow writes beautifully Pascal Derrien and better than mine.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #10

oh thank you Doc Ali Anani just a few words put together I think the shadow wrote it not me :-)

Very-well written buzz Pascal Derrien. Your last line "...seemed very long especially when you have a shadow for best friend you don’t get to see too much of it on rainy days". This is beautifully expressed.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #8

that's a compliment and a half Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr :-)

don kerr

4 years ago #7

Brilliant story of adapting to adversity and coming face to face with loss. Pascal Derrien You're just getting better and better my friend.

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #6

Well, hell....they probably deserve it :)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #5

thanks Lisa Vanderburg more than 4 mninutes would be torture :-) Nice words merci. I am fine with it what does not kill you makes yous stronger as they say, I adapt to change so quickly that I drive people around me nuts :-)

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #4

Childhood lost in 4 poignant minutes - so worth the read.

Lisa Vanderburg

4 years ago #3

Forgive my clumsiness, but this has brought out emotional yearnings in me: I am heartbroken at your boyhood loss; it is such a cruelty to move (particularly a solo) kids around like that and rarely do parents truly realize the cost. The child defends the parent. Like you, I was a 'transient' and couldn't connect - knew I was out before I was in. I ask your forgiveness because you don't want sympathy - you have delivered (in 4 minutes) the raw honesty of needing normal connection and learning to live without it. Shared.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #2

thanks Gert Scholtz an everyday story on a situation I had to experience more than once :-)

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #1

Pascal Derrien This brings back memories of times when I had to adapt to new schools as an "outsider". Not easy to deal with at a young age. You tell the story of you and Ariel beautifully Pascal.

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