okay. when you go invisible there’s pros and cons. for example, who is going to apologize when they bump into you. that sucks. on the other hand, you’ll never take an ugly picture again. so that’s good.
pupils, it turns out, are a pretty important part of the eye, and they are black for a reason. and when your eyes cannot take in light, they cannot see. so being invisible comes with blindness; a painful irony. everyone seems to want invisibility for spying, for watching unnoticed. but others are as invisible to you as you are to them. the world cannot see you and you cannot see the world.
you learn in the second year of invisibility how to move around. your hearing is better than good. truth be told, you’re still waiting for someone to notice you just disappeared one day. nobody really seems to. before it happened, once, on the last day of school the teacher took a poll. “flight or being invisible”. one girl said “you don’t need a superpower to be invisible” and that struck you in your bones.
okay. pros and cons. good news, no responsibilities. stealing is easy. bad news, it’s a lot harder to steal if you can’t see what you’re stealing. worse news, you’re naked. you tried clothes a few times but haven’t made the move north to justify all the layers. where’s edna mode when you need her? you sigh loudly on a train. the person next to you jumps. you feel bad about that.
pros and cons. pros: your landlord hasn’t noticed. he thinks you’re very busy. cons: you are not that busy.
you’re kind of used to people bumping into you - you’re getting good at navigating around them - when the first person navigates around you. it takes you a while to notice what happened because you were busy thinking about carmilla again. for a month you retrace your steps, wondering if you’ll rediscover this mystery person.
you’ve lost all hope of it reoccurring - maybe it was a fluke? - when it happens again. this time, carefully, you follow them. they pick up the pace. soon the two of you are almost-running.
“why are you doing this?” her voice is young and angry. you’re stopped at a street crossing. “why would you chase a blind woman?”
oh you’ve made a huge mistake. oh god you’re literally the worst. you’re out of breath. “I’m …” it’s been a while since you spoke, your voice comes out fringed and raw, “I’m sorry I just…” okay now it’s awkward. how are you supposed to say i’m invisible i was surprised you went around me.
actually, that’s what you say exactly. it kind of just slips out naturally.
she snorts, but she seems to calm down. maybe she takes it not-literally. “i can hear you. you’re practically stomping.” she smells good. like flowers and lemons.
“i’m sorry again,” you say, “just…” you clear your throat, “not a lot of people notice me.” yeah, that sounds better. phrased more… diplomatically.
“I did,” she says. “you could have just asked instead of chasing me.”
you cough. “yeah.” take a deep breath, “that was shitty of me. i’m sorry i just…” you’re just invisible, “you surprised me.” you’re sort of at a loss for words so you turn to leave. “anyway, thanks for seeing me.”
“i didn’t,” she reminds you, and you laugh. she lets out a little note. “can you… tell me when it’s safe to cross the street?”
actually. you can’t. whenever you cross, you mostly guess and hope and base it off of when other people go. how’s a car supposed to stop for someone it can’t see.
“uhmmm,” you say. “i’m kind of…” you’re kind of also blind.
but then you realize you hear people around you. “okay,” you say, praying you won’t accidentally kill the both of you, “um…” and you both stand there and wait.
for a while, this is your only interaction among the human species. you’re not really sure how much time passes - without the sun it’s always hard. you judge it by population density. have a bunch of clocks in your house that read out the time audibly.
you find her again in a bakery. you almost bump into her. you sit in a table a few away from hers, even though you can’t eat in public. someone tries to sit on you. pros and cons: people try to sit on you, but you always get the meal for free.
the thing is, people often see blindness as some kind of disease they can catch. you hear them avoiding her. you feel their awkwardness as they serve her things, how they talk down to her or overexplain things. you want to explain it’s just a part of who she is. it doesn’t make her broken or untouchable. you feel a fire in you. a violence that has no outlet, only a rage at how unfair people are around those who are different.
“hey,” you don’t know when you made the choice to walk over, but you’re glad you did, “don’t i know you?”
you can hear her smile. “i don’t forget voices. you’re my stalker, correct?” i laugh. “go on,” she says, “go ahead and sit.”
you fumble for the chair. you hear her motion for a waitress, but you clear your throat. “i already ate,” you say through a growling stomach, “just stopped to say hi.”
she’s quiet. you hear something, and then you’re struck in the face by an unidentified flying object. you eventually judge it to be a salt shaker.
“you’re blind,” she says.
“ouch,” you say.
it’s a beautiful friendship. you tell her you’re too shy to talk in public. you share books on tape and sculpture projects and you almost feel normal for a fraction of a second. you go to support groups where you talk about how the government systematically devours anyone on disability, how people treat you differently, how there are no disabled princesses coming out of disney. how all love stories about people like you are tragedies. you start to feel un-invisible. the others help you learn things like how to use technology that describes tv, how to read braille. you discover words are more beautiful in 3D. she’s by your side while you finally watch the carmilla movie in the quiet warmth of your apartment’s safety.
well. pros and cons, because that lasts for maybe two months before she finally realizes: “are you naked?”
yeah, you are. you had been wearing things every time you’d hung out, swinging it so you two were always alone, but then she wanted to go for a walk. now how are you supposed to explain left boob: out. “um,” you say. how do you phrase: i wasn’t joking about that invisible thing when we first met literally nobody can see me.
that’s exactly what you say.
maybe you’re still learning the whole talking-to-people thing.
at first, she laughs. then she sobers up. “but really,” she says. “have you been screwing with me?”
your heart bangs oddly at the idea she thinks you’d hurt her like that. “no,” you promise, before she can get angry, “let me… show you,” your voice cracks, “please.”
she pauses. the silence is long. “okay,” she says at last. “but if you’ve been pretending this whole time, i’m never speaking to you again.”
so you hold her hand (why is your heart a million miles an hour? is it fear at telling the secret? is it fear at the idea she might not believe it?) and you show her as best as you’re able. you speak in public, levitate things. people scream or jump or leave the building.
you take her back to the cafe where you met. you order a coffee. the boy behind the counter asks her how she ordered without moving her mouth. she says she’s an expert ventriloquist. you both sit down at a table. you fumble for the chair again. it feels very familiar.
“i’m sorry,” you choke out, keeping your voice low so it’s hidden under the cafe’s dull roar, “i didn’t mean to lie to you.”
“your entire body is sitting naked on a chair right now,” she replies, and then she can’t stop laughing. after a moment, you join in. something about her laughter is so incredibly infectious.
once she’s calmed down, she orders a cocoa. there’s a long pause. “well, that’s a kick in the teeth,” she says, “talk about irony. nobody can see you, but you can see nobody.” she blows on her drink. “how have you not immediately used this for money.”
you laugh. then you both spend a day walking and planning while she pretends to talk into a bluetooth. she’s going to be a ventriloquist and you’ll pretend to be the dummy. she’s going to be a psychic and you’ll be the voice from the other side. she’ll get you both into the white house and you’ll follow certain people around whispering “tiny hands are the devil’s work”. you’ll be an international spy, but because you don’t have an unending fortune to get you out of treason, she’ll have to teach you how to be good at being quiet. you’ll both be an international blackmail syndicate that specifically targets those who are privatizing the education and medical systems. you’re going to expose big pharma. the whole time, her hand is in yours and your heart is beating loud, triumphant, she-must-hear-it.
you go home with her. you’ve both been listening to harry potter. you sit and drink margaritas and discuss your houses (you, slytherin, her, raven-dor) and “did you put your name in the goblet of fiya”. you talk about how malfoy deserved a better redemption arc and how snape deserves a swift kick to the balls. you get tipsy and laugh and dance and sing and wear clothes.
there’s a sound and then you are hit in the face by an unidentified flying object which you eventually judge to be a pillow. “sorry” she says, “i was just checking.”
at two in the morning you’re lying on her bed and her head is on your lap. she asks you, finally, that question: “how did it happen?”
you clear your throat. “i don’t know,” you say. the truth is, you’d always been in the background. you have no idea how long you’d been fading for. how long before you just blipped on out of existence. just that you woke up blind and scared and eventually learned how to live with it.
you get choked up, talking about it. how some stuff didn’t even change a bit. how people you cared about didn’t even notice. how a lot of them never asked what happened. and then you say: “for a while i was fucked up about my last sunset.” you sigh. “i didn’t appreciate it.”
she wraps her hand into yours for comfort.
then you tell her: you learned about other things. how snow sounds when it’s falling, or the sound clean hair makes when shifting, or how people can feel happy, so much that they project it around them.
for a long time - and now isn’t time moving so quickly - walking naked with her in the park and having conversations in public. you even put some of your crazy ideas in action. you never get good at spying, but you do scare the shit out of kids that try to harass other kids and you do a great job during halloween when she paints your body so you can wear a costume and be seen - and you help her as best you’re able, always, as best as you are able.
she’s laughing. it’s winter, so you’re wearing many layers for her, even though it makes you sweaty. you’re picking out a christmas tree, the two of you are doing it by touch. she’s using words incorrectly to describe things. “this one is … robust,” she’s saying, “a tarpaulin sort.”
you snort. you have finagled it so it looks like your hands are in your coat pockets when they’re really out in the open, fondling branches lovingly. “he’s a beauty,” you say, “gregarious.”
she’s laughing that infectious laugh when you hear it: the snow, gently falling.
you sneak the scarf just a little off your face so you can feel it, somehow shocked at the cold. you let one land on your tongue. her hands find yours, both of you cold. “it’s snowing,” she laughs, and then her free hand finds your exposed face, “it’ll land on you and turn you into the abominable snowman.”
and for a moment, you are lost, but then her fingers are gently pulling you forwards, and an unidentified flying object very pleasantly meets you in the face, her warmth and her joy and that infectious spirit, her lips better than any sunsets you have missed, her heart a hearth you can always find warmth in.
pros and cons, you think, when she pulls back, but you can’t think of a single con to go with it. you kiss her and kiss her and kiss her and buy the gregarious tree and kiss her and stop for cocoa and coffee and kiss her and don’t care who sees.
and you kiss her under mistletoe and hear others say ugh and laugh and hold hands and make new plans together and you never seem to stop finding reasons to touch her, and the wild experience of her