Working with shadow was difficult. It was slippery and my hands always came away damp. My damned partner had no trouble with it at all —she handled it deftly and it obeyed her every command, probably every whisper, and in my uncharitable times, her thoughts. On the other hand, sunlight refused to be touched by her. She’d reach for it, and it would magically move around the room. I’d seen our teacher taking notes about it, then asking to talk to Silk after class.
That was a stupid name, right? Silk. My name, Ship, was much better.
Silk and Ship. We didn’t get along together, we didn’t work well together, and yet she was my partner in Lights class. I couldn’t get a break. It was going to be my worst class too, since shadow didn’t want to work with me. I’d seen the teacher giving me some looks too.
“Hey! Psst! Ship!”
I looked around, then looked back at Silk. Had she just said my name? On purpose, and without prodding from out teacher?
“Ship!” She hissed at me, waving her arms around and creating beautiful darkness.
“You’re talking to me, Silk?”
“No shit, dumbass!” she sighed, running a hand through blood-red hair. “Look, can we get some tea after class? I could really go for a cup of unicorn tears.”
I nodded, but there was no way that I was going to be drinking that. I’m sure I could get something else though, so I waited for class to be over, then I walked with her to the café on campus.
“I’m only going to say this once, okay?” she said, paying for her cup of unicorn tears with a splash of griffin’s regret. I asked for nymph’s heart (chocolate), and nymph’s tears (mint). That was my favorite drink, and the warmth was nice to feel between my hands.
“I think that from now on, you should do all of our sunlight work, and I’ll do all of our shadow work.”
My eyes opened wide and I almost dropped my drink.
“We…we can’t! That would be like… like cheating.”
“No would about it, it is cheating,” she answered, swallowing a gulp. “So, that’s your answer? No, because we might be caught cheating? Because I think, right now, you’re in the same boat as me. Just, you’re failing the shadow part of class and I’m failing the sunshine onw.”
I didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then nodded. I needed this class to move onto the next one.
“Great. Just make two of everything, and make the copy really sloppy. Not sloppy enough that I’ll fail, but bad enough that our teacher will think I exerted enough effort and created it.”
“What about me?” I asked.
“What about you?” Her eyebrow arched at me, and suddenly I wasn’t sure that opening my mouth was the right move. “Do you want me to make you a shadow copy?”
“Yes?” It was more of a question than an answer.