In any case, what I'm posting today is an assignment I had to do for my Advanced Fiction class. It was from a section entitled 'Women and Men' from a book called 'The 3 AM Epiphany'. The exercise I chose was to write about a woman who has become temporarily invisible. I thought it would be interesting to do this, as I don't have much experience writing female protagonists. Let me know what you think.
It was maybe twenty-five minutes before she realized that she had disappeared. The early morning rituals were accomplished in automatic sequence. The flush of the toilet and the splash of the shower ran together, a soundtrack of normalcy. Only when she stepped to the mirror, fully awake and toweling off her hair, did she notice the change.
I saw her there, from outside, and to say that she disappeared is a misnomer. I appeared in a new way. Her face and body had slackened, brought about a plainness and quiet of frame and figure. My face is something to forget. With me peering out, she was isolated.
I stepped away from the mirror and off to the side. She peeked out again, hoping maybe that it was passing. It was, but slowly. I pulled forward again and dressed. Disappearance or not, nudity is obvious.
I walked slowly down the street; the house was in a cul-de-sac, behind stunted lilacs and a half dead pine tree. A dog raised his nose, scenting her. But I drifted past, pushing her back, and all he really smelled was my soap. Boring lavender, hint of rose.
As we stood on the corner, the sea of campus traffic parting around us, she decided that she wanted to see them. I had figured she would, and had made it part of my plan when I first woke up.
He had kept her on. A grad student working on things above my pay grade and then a lover and then a student again. He knew she wouldn’t say anything, not step forward and break that idyllic family photo on the desk where I first fucked him. I had wanted to laugh that day, fish belly skeleton snowy furred white and that sad stiff pink dripping thing, but she said yes and he loved her. She loved him. I loved them.
I was outside his window, the address remembered from when she almost knocked, almost pulled up, almost drove over to tell them. I stood there, just another yard fixture, and watched them fix breakfast, his car already gone from the driveway. She cried while I fought the urge to break the pane, stick my invisible face through the gap and scream truths into their early morning Eden. The youngest almost turned around, almost left that sugary bowl of cereal, milk now a perfect purple. His mother called him back, pointed to the clock, you don’t want to be late for school dear.
She stood next to the walk as the front door opened. She wanted to say it, scream it, apologize. I just stood there and watched as they headed out to that ugly SUV, next generation of the minivan. The youngest was him in miniature. The same fair skin, blonde hair. The hint of ice in the eyes. At least his obvious love of sugared cereal and a slight creative spark might keep his father’s path at bay. The daughter was a vapid thing. She was there, but at the same time, I could see that she might someday disappear too. Her hands moved idly, brushing the hedges as she walked past us. His wife was what you would expect him to marry. A plump mother hen, hint of the beautiful still there, but declining. The reason for what happened on that desk.
I stood there and stared. Willed them to at least notice something different. She willed them to feel her pity, her apology. The car was started, son in the back seat, DVD screen playing some banal cartoon. Shift to drive. They passed me, and the daughter looked up. Saw. Met her eyes.
And we apologized.