He’s standing over there, in the corner.
Don’t bother looking, you probably won’t be able to see him.
Unless he wants you to, of course.
In the Choctaw tradition, when a person dies, their shilombish (spirit) and shilup (shadow) leave the body. The shilombish takes off toward the West to meet ancestors in the Land of Ghosts, but the shilup can hang around for awhile, haunting their surroundings.
Remember Jake, the farmer I told you about a while ago? He’s running from alot of problems, but what he’s most trying to escape is a shilup that has been terrorizing him. Jake often sees this shadow from the past beckoning from theedge of his wheat field, or reaching through his truck window, or even standing behind an empty chair in an old family photo.
Terror, like most things, is in the eye of the beholder. Fear has a way of encouraging us to change course.
My great-great grandfather was full-blood Choctaw. I found his registration card while I was writing that story about Jake, which is coming out next month. Thenarrative travels between present and past, all the way back to the Choctaw patriarch of Jake’s family, who first farmed the sliver of Oklahoma panhandle in the 1800s. When the book was in the final edit, I searched the house, literally turned the place upside down, looking for that registration card. I wanted to embed my own proof of ancestry at the end of the novel… proof that I, averifiable white kid with blue eyes and fair skin, had jurisdiction to speak about anything native at all.
But the worn, tattered piece of paper had disappeared.
I don’t know if a shilup always has to be scary. I mean, I’m not frightened right now. 
Because I know who took that registration card.
He’s standing over there, in the corner.

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