The first time I turned invisible, I was 8 years old.
Janine Crocker was throwing a birthday party and had, by some miracle, invited me. My Mom had made a big deal out it — possibly because it had been the first invitation I’d ever received. The first invitation she’d ever received for her child.
We were playing hide and seek in Janine’s house all afternoon and I’d found my perfect hiding spot underneath her bed. There was not a single speckle of dust underneath Janine’s bed. Just like the rest of her house, Janine’s bedroom was impeccable. Where my bedroom was home to several full-grown dust-rabbits that my mother used to say could come to school with me any day now, Janine’s was as clean as a store display. I remember this fact quite clearly, because I wondered about the impeccableness of the underside of Janine’s bed for a full hour while I waited for them to come find me.
I heard them searching, of course. It had been Suzy’s turn and she even came into Janine’s bedroom to check. The wireframe of the bed was covered in a pink tuft blanket that hung over the side of the bed. Suzy didn’t even think to look. When she went back to the other rooms, I strained my ears to hear her say the names of everyone and then it was Carla’s turn. And then it was Janine’s. And back to Suzy.
I remember giggling and thinking how fun this was not to be found. I didn’t even notice how strange it was that none of them found me under the bed, even after several more rounds of hide and seek. Or, stranger still, that none of them seemed to try and look for me.
When I followed the call for cake from Janine’s Mom, I jumped down the stairs laughing. I saw them sitting on the floor, drawing pictures with the magic markers Janine had gotten for her birthday.
There was a blank piece of paper and a glass of juice on the floor.
„Pass me the green one,“ Janine said as she saw me. „You’re done with that, right?“
I told myself that the girls were playing one elaborate joke on me, getting me back for not being found. I wasn’t invited to another birthday party.
But then, there was 7th grade P.E.
And the pants that I ripped.
And the laughter from everyone.
„Wearing granny panties today?“ one of the boys shouted and the laughter grew louder.
„She’s wearing granny panties every day,“ a girl yelled and the crowed cajoled.
I stood there, rooted to the spot, and wished so hard that the floor would open up and swallow me hole. I wanted to run, but my feet wouldn’t move. Instead, I closed my eyes, and tried to hold back the tears.
„Alright, everybody get settled now,“ Coach said. The laughter stopped. I opened my eyes reluctantly, waiting for the teacher to tell me to go change, but she didn’t look my way.
Neither did anybody else.
There I was, in the middle of the gym floor with my butt showing out of my pants, and nobody paid any attention to me. Even though just seconds ago, I’d been the joke of the century.
Suddenly my feet came back to action and I went to get changed. I went into the next class, expecting snickers and jokes. But nobody even looked at me. Not even the teachers.
I realized something was wrong when I went to school the next day and Janine didn’t hide whatever she was scribbling in her notebook from me. I edged closer and closer until I could read every single word she was writing on those sacred pages she never shared with anyone. And she didn’t even look up. I went without talking to anyone for a week until Bio, when I raised my hand to answer a question about cross-pollination.
Suddenly, the spell was broken. I got elbowed in the hallways, Janine covered her notebook as soon as I even stepped around the corner, and wherever I went, I heard the boys cough, ‚granny panties‘.
I come home to my mother’s house today with a hand full of cash. I grabbed it from the bank safe on my lunch break. They’ll check the cameras tonight, but even though I’m right there, they won’t see me. And Clara will swear up and down that I was at the deli with her.
In her reality, I was.
Mom’s been having trouble paying the bills since Dad left her, but she’s too proud to take any actual money from my hands.
There’s a picture on our mantle that shows my Mom with a birthday cake and an empty chair. She talks about that day like I was there, helping her blow out the candles. The truth is, I don’t remember where I was when she took that picture. But I remember where I wasn’t.
I’m not sure she’ll see the money in her wallet. I can never quite tell what people will remember.
About where I was.
About what I’ve done.
If you could turn invisible, do you think people would notice you were gone? What if they didn’t? What if their brains or the universe spun a story in their minds about where you are while you’re out and about? What if, in their minds, you had all these meaningful encounters together while you were away?
Let me know your thoughts on the story in the comments below!
If you want me to send you an email as soon as the next free story is up, sign up for my newsletter!