The Spiral

The Spiral

Why Am I So Invisible?

You’re so handsome. Those lightly colored cheeks, and that slightly narrow nose and those full lips that make me think of pasta sauce. Your green eyes as the light coming through the train windows bounces off them, even as you focus on your phone. I notice others admire you too. And I notice others admire others. That woman over there, with the perfect shaped tits that gently press against her white shirt. She isn’t just naturally pretty, but also made up for a day in the office, in which I imagine she has men to impress, and maybe women too. The guy leaning against the railing – also standing, he’s watching her. Him with his handsome jawline and deep-set eyes – maybe someone from the south. His trousers are tight and his bulge is abnormally bulgy. I wonder if there’s a sock there. But I’m not the only one watching, there’s a boy, maybe twenty and he’s watching it too. He seems fixated on it, maybe so oblivious that he doesn’t realise that we’re sharing a space with dozens of others.

The train stops and quite a few get off, a handful get on, and the dynamics shift a little. Now there’s a couple of new people staring at the woman with the nice tits. I realise she wore that top because she knows that will happen. I look at her eyes, and I can see that she’s carefully avoiding those admirers.

She knows.

Nobody notices me, or if they do, it’s a quick glance and back to something prettier.

I’m ok with that, I remind myself, after all – I have a cat who adores me and a phone full of friends. Speaking of which, as I exit the train and lose interest in the people, I open Twitter and see what my worldwide friends are up to. Some have liked my comment about that idiot President from last night. That warms me a little; see? I’m loved by many.

I made a funny I did. In fact, it was retweeted by many, that’s how funny it was. I’m hell popular online; I think I’m becoming a celebrity of sorts. I didn’t tweet for a day once and I received at least two DM’s asking me if I was ok. That warmed my heart. I intend to find out who they are and maybe even their birthdays. I could send them cards. Maybe I could visit them. I don’t care where they are, I have the money and I could do that. I’m sure they’d like me in real life too.

Or maybe they wouldn’t. I’m not pretty like that man over there or that woman going up the escalator with a drove of men fighting over each other to stand directly behind her so they might get a preview of more of what’s hidden under that skirt.

But I’m really ok with that.

When I entered work, I realized everyone was suffering Monday blues. I said good morning to a few, got a half-hearted nod from some and even a couple of forced words by others. The receptionist and I always gravitate towards one another at company drinks, and she always wants to know what I got up to on the weekend.  But today she seems absorbed in something else, barely acknowledging that I said anything.

That’s ok, I’m aware she probably had a busy weekend doing things with people she loves. She isn’t pretty all that much, even after she trowels on her makeup. Still, she is chatty and seems on my level most of the time.

That night, my cat seemed uninterested in me. Even at dinner time, her normally voracious appetite seemed bored. When I opened the window, she fled.

For a while, I looked out the window and wondered where she’d gone. All around me, apartments were filled with the sounds of saucepans being clanged and heavy items being banged on tables. The aromas of Indian, Chinese and even Italian spices competed for my attention. Somewhere a man laughed and a woman joined in. Elsewhere, a young boy argued with his mother over the volume of the television.

I surveyed the contents of my cupboards and realized I was due for a big shop. The instant noodles with toast I ended up making was good enough and designed to be quick, easy and with a minimal amount of dishes to wash up. The experience of preparing and having my dinner was over in under ten minutes and I had an entire evening to fill.

My recliner enveloped me as I sank in and my feet were welcomed by the foot stool with the faded, red velvet padding. I picked up my book with one hand while I flicked through the Netflix offerings with another. Occasionally I’d read a tweet and I even managed to post one of my own.

Nobody noticed my tweets. I hadn’t seen a tweet by Ellegrenada2012ok for a while and I went to her profile. At least I think it was a her. These days I might get trolled for even being curious about that.

My heart stopped.

She’d unfollowed me.

I looked for the DM and I could see that we had previously communicated but I was no longer able to send her messages.

Why?

Agitated, distracted, angry and hurt, I went over to the window and sought comfort in my cat. I needed my cat more than ever, but as cats are prone to do, she had found entertainment elsewhere. Perhaps my cat, unlike me, wasn’t invisible.

A cold well, growing by the second, had opened up at the bottom of my stomach. The noodles I had for dinner threatened to come back up and I was struggling to breathe. I raced to the mirror and I tried to visually assess what was wrong with me but no mirror could provide me with the information I already knew was there.

I was depressed again.

This wasn’t supposed to happen on my new meds! Why?

I threw up. I drank water; my throat hurt. I swallowed raw honey out of the plastic container. I went to the window and looked out. A case of the sweats overtook me and I closed it, then drew the blinds. I opened my door and looked out at the other apartments. All was quiet. Not a single person was coming or going. I stood and hoped to have some kind of interaction with one of my neighbours; any of them! I don’t care if it’s the crazy old boot who goes on and on about the prices of houses in this city or the young girl who still goes on about the guy who left her nearly three years ago.

Somebody, please come and talk to me.

I thought about knocking on a door; any of them. I contemplated getting dressed and going out to a bar, and forcing uncomfortable conversation on someone, anyone.

Instead, I sat on my recliner and I thought. I realized that my entire life was meaningless and that I took up space in a world where nobody wanted me.

“You’re an oxygen thief!” Drew Biggs had cried when we were in school. I realized then he was right.

“Why don’t you do the world a favour and just fuck off!” my ex had said.

“At best, you’ll support someone who’ll do something meaningful,” my Mother had said right before she died so I didn’t really get a chance to ask her what she meant.

But I knew what she meant now. It finally dawned on me. My Mother had seen things that only mothers and fathers can see. They know things about you because they made you.

I was invisible. People ignored me for a reason.

I had no friends, even my cat had dumped me.

My meaningless life had been in vain. If my Mother had predicted this, why hadn’t she just got rid of me before? Why did she raise me then leave me all to my own to see? My Father had left long before I was able to walk and talk, and I assumed that was because he could see that…

No! Stop. You’re spiraling.

“When it happens again, breathe deeply, remind yourself that this isn’t you and that you aren’t that person and that you aren’t alone. You can call me anytime you need me, between the hours of 9:30am and 17:00 Tuesday to Friday. I don’t work Mondays,” she’d said.

It was Monday though. What did you do when you spiraled on a Monday?

I called Rowan.

“Hey beautiful, wondered where you’d got to,” his deep voice nearly whispered. I don’t think Rowan can whisper.

I told him what was happening and that I needed someone to talk to. I’d barely got the words out and he was reassuring me that he was on his way and that he’d stay on the phone. No matter how much I tried to tell him that I was ok and that I’d simply needed someone to talk to, he shushed me and kept me talking. I knew he was walking because he was breathing heavy, then I could tell he was on the bus because he talked more quietly. Then he was outside again and he spoke at length about the good things.

We’d had so many laughs together. He’d been there for me when Steve – the asswipe from hell, dumped me. Rowan had introduced me to Pete, Ellie and the others. Through me, Rowan had met Lynn, Peta and Angela; all of them my gal-pals from Uni days. Still strong and still friends but each so busy in our own lives and with busy careers. Though I was the only single one, still on the shelf and still… no! Stop spiralling.

Rowan on the stairwell now and then Rowan at my door; knocking insistently and with a purpose.

When I opened it, those blue eyes filled with worry and kindness and relief and concern and tender loving generosity that didn’t need words. He threw his arms around me and he said, “I’m here.”

We had tea, we talked, we laughed, we snacked on the doughnuts he’d found in my favorite late-night snack shop and when my cat came back with an appetite for ten, we laughed some more.

As I got into bed that night after hugging Steve goodnight and reassuring him I was going to be ok, I got a notification from Ellegrenada2018ok.

“Hey hun, sorry but got hacked. Twitter’s going to sort it but use this account for now. Hope you’re ok. Elxx”

The cloud lifted and I hugged my pillow. For the first time in a long time, my fine, whispy blonde hair tangled around my head and I didn’t care as I drifted into a beautiful sleep and thought about friendships and the healing that comes from laughter.

 Thanks for reading my short story called The Spiral. Inspired by my train journey to work one morning. Hope you like it. Fox

 

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