A Bard and his Shadow – Bogdan Groza

SHADOW: Why hast thou summoned me once more from peaceful slumber?
WILLIAM: I, summon thee? Surely you jest for ne’er once have I summoned thee. Thou appeare’st from torpid shadows to test mine patience, a fickle figment of mine craft and nothing more.
SHADOW: Nay I say, nay. ‘Tis thy craft that wills me into existence, that I hath explained time and again, but alas my words fall on deaf ears.
WILLIAM: Deaf they might well be, for time hast come and gone and through the windows of mine age I hath peered for far too long. Hark, hark, pensive phantasm! I need not your services this once, for these pages shall not see the dim light of the stage, only that of this brief candle. Out, out, now.
SHADOW: How now, just as our Cardenio? Tell, whatever became of that masterpiece that we worked so hard to complete?
WILLIAM: Relinquished into oblivion, ne’er to be seen by man’s eyes or heard by their ears.
SHADOW: How so?
WILLIAM: ‘Twas the story of another, not mine to write into existence. An old friend for sure, but one whom would not take lightly such an affront.
SHADOW: Then why, pray tell, hath thou called upon me on that somber night, to quill a story that was not yours to write?
WILLIAM: Again I reply, specter of my folly, that it is not I whom calls upon thee; thy presence merely emerges as I scribble the night away.
SHADOW: Let us leave hence that squabble for another time. Now, why hast thou pricked all those words on papers and parchments on that faithful night the story of Cardenio and his not-so-faithful friend?
WILLIAM: To test my trade. I merely wanted to see whom was a better wordsmith, I or the Spaniard.
SHADOW: And who won this duel of wording wits in the end?
WILLIAM: Neither and both. Our means and ways are beyond compare and our ability to imbue thoughts into pages has no equal.
SHADOW: Ah, but I gather that the Spaniard has no specter at his side to surveil his scriptorium.
WILLIAM: That I know not, but do not dare to use such superior tones with me. I owe you nothing, thou are part of my plays by thy will, not mine.
SHADOW: Aye, I am not Ariel for sure nor you Prospero, though thou hast put all thy energy into that fine work.
WILLIAM: Aye, ‘twas meant to be my final work, but others then followed. Alas, these pages shall be the last ones for sure. One note to end them all.
SHADOW: Ah yes, ‘twill always be the final play with thee.
WILLIAM: Nay, ‘tis the play outside the play which I have sought, the stage upon which shadows such as myself strut and fret their final hour. A stage which thy ghastly form cannot tread.
SHADOW: Thou should not use my words so lightly. I hath told thee of the stage of the world for it was something out of mine grasp, a reflection in a mirror I could only gaze upon.
WILLIAM: Lightly, you say? Thy words as well? Thou keepe’st thy role in too high esteem. Thou art a medium, I say, at best a whisper and an echo in mine ear. A petulant one at that.
SHADOW: Thy self thy foe, for thy hubris shall spell thy end.
WILLIAM: A spell perhaps, perchance an incantation of e’er-lasting life; so long my plays shall see the light of stage, so shall my name be spoken.
SHADOW: Meager consolation if opposed with Time’s injurious hand; thou shall not know thy immortality, only thy humanly decay.
WILLIAM: Thou speake’st true and know’st no less but all, long ago have my pangs for mortal glory have been thwarted. There was a time for such a word, a yearning no other could comprehend, but no more.
SHADOW: Ah, I see that time indeed has transposed thy heart and mind for our bickering now is for mere amusement and not for an intimate search for answers. Swayed as thou hast been, thy self-made Olympus has crumbled, and you with it.
WILLIAM: Nay, I have descended on my own accord, finding mine own truths.
SHADOW: And you have always been both the sorrowful scholar and the sordid scoundrel, combining the best and worst of both worlds, colliding thy true reality with the stage’s light and making them live together in harmony.
WILLIAM: Aye, old friend, for thy kind words I am forced to admit that thy hand hast had a great merit in such feats.
SHADOW: Now that the pleasantries have past, back at the task at hand: what will this final piece entail? A quarrel betwixt lovers, a story of mistaken identities, disguises and laughters or cloaks and betrayals? What hero of old shall I bring back to life, what historical figure dost thy quill require?
WILLIAM: Nay, specter of ambition, ‘tis a work that far exceeds such trivialities.
SHADOW: You call me ambitious and you are an honorable man, but methinks thy parchments have already written thusly.
WILLIAM: As I have told thee, no countrymen shall lend their ears to this play and no kings of infinite spaces shall contemplate it. These words, written on a full moon night, will be all-encompassing yet ne’er present. They will be the fabric of mine life and thou, intertwined within these pages. We will use a language that has always been within us, one forgotten by all and still that is constantly changing. It will express all the sentiments man possesses, from the most base of them to the highest and noblest ones. I would you looked with mine eyes and see what we are bound to accomplish.
SHADOW: I see it, I see it well. Best start writing hence, morrow is soon to come and little time have we left. To end our words and start our scratching on the parchments, I will remind you one of the first lines we e’er written as one: since we came into the world like brother and brother, let us go hand in hand, not one before another.

I was born in Romania and am currently living in Italy; I finished my Master’s Degree at the faculty of Padua and am currently doing a PhD in Philology and Literary Criticism in Siena. I have been writing since I was about eighteen and published short stories and poems in minor Italian anthologies; in 2019 I managed to publish my first book, Athena, with a small publishing company. I decided to also start writing in other languages to see how my stories change and in 2021 I published my first two short stories in English with Deep Overstock literary magazine.

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