We’ve all had our fair share of day dreams, or “wishes”, if you will. Mine was always wanting to be invisible.
I wished for it more often than not. I’d have given anything to escape the snickers and taunts piercing my ear drums from both sides of the hallway. I yearned to not be seen so bad, that imagine my surprise when it actually happened one day.
It a normal day in the most cliche of ways. I was walking through the halls of the pits of hell – sorry, high school- like a zombie. The only variation in my routine from day to day was that we had a block schedule. Meaning one day we sat through four classes, and the next day we sat through four different classes. Each class was ninety minutes long rather than the typical hour. If you don’t get it, that’s okay. We didn’t either at the time.
So, it was a typical day, only shittier because it was Math day. I much preferred English Lit day. That’s the day I had my two English classes, Drama class, and Job Training(I worked in the front office as a receptionist during that hour.) No, I wasn’t a fucking nerd, either, though I’d been told otherwise for thirteen years. I digress.
Back to the horror that was Math class. Go figure, this isn’t even a horror story. I was sitting in Math, in January of 2005. My eighteenth birthday was approaching, and what’s better, graduation was only a few months away.
Shawn Guidry sat in front of me for the entirety of that year. Whoever came up with assigned seats in the classroom is the Devil’s advocate. Every so often I had a teacher who was thoughtful enough to change our seating arrangement mid-year.
Shawn sat in front me, and as usual, he’d turn around when the teacher wasn’t looking and make whichever original remark he thought he was clever enough to come up with that day.
“Hey fat-ass,” he quipped and pointed at the bible resting neatly in the top right corner of my desk. “What’s Jesus teaching you today?”
I didn’t bother to entertain his remarks. I never did. I just stared down at the blank pages of my notebook and the jumbled numbers in the textbook, and tapped my pencil on the desk, wishing I were invisible.
Mary Bishop sat behind me. She laughed at Shawn’s remark and leaned forward. “Just because you’re a fat whale doesn’t mean I can’t beat your ass for being such a nerd. Fucking bible-thumper.”
I whipped my head around and snapped. “What are you gonna beat my ass with, Mary? You don’t have any arms.” I turned around in my seat glared at the chalk board. I felt horrible for teasing Mary about not having arms, but she’d teased me enough throughout my life, and I didn’t think her level of popularity was fair.
I was happy when the bell rang before she had a chance to say anything else. I gathered my shit and drudged on to the next class, American History. That class wasn’t as horrible as Math was, but it was still boring. I made a pit stop at my locker on my way to swap out my books, only to discover that a multitude of my peers had graced me with some of their best art work. I opened my locker, and twenty or thirty folded up pieces of paper slid out, clicking against the floor around my feet.
Don’t ask me why I opened them. I guess I had some deep-seeded need to know exactly what a disgrace to human society people thought I was. One of the notes brandished a fury penis. Another had an upside down cross bulging out of a pig’s back, with a thought bubble that said, “666”. Another read, “Kill yourself, virgin.”
“Seriously. Why can’t I just be invisible?”
I made it to American History just as the tardy bell rang. I slid into my desk quietly, which was thankfully in the back of the room. The teacher had already started roll call, but hadn’t gotten to my name yet. I was an R.
When he did get to my name I muttered my usual, “Present.” He didn’t hear me.
“Katherine Richards,” he said, looking around.
“Here!” I shouted, standing up so he could see me.
I didn’t understand what was going on. I turned to Patrick Elmer, who sat beside me. We weren’t friends, but he wasn’t mean to me, at least. He’d been labeled a “freak of nature” in his own right.
“What is he doin’?” I whispered. Patrick didn’t even give me a side glance. “Patrick?”
I raised my hand with a confused look on my face. My teacher usually acknowledged those kinds of things. He’d glanced in my direction, but his gaze was behind me. How could he not see me in front of him?
When he didn’t acknowledge me, I stood up once again and walked out of the classroom. I was in such a hurry to make it to the restroom that I hadn’t seen the girl walking toward me. I ran right into her. She didn’t even notice. She kept walking. My mind twisted and contorted all kinds of ways as I tried to figure how it was physically possible. Science wasn’t my best subject, but I was pretty sure that two solid masses couldn’t pass straight through one another.
I ran to the restroom and shoved the door open. There were five cheerleaders in there doing their makeup for the football game that night. Normally my interactions with the cheerleaders weren’t pleasant, but this time they didn’t pay me any mind. They’d been calling me fat, ugly, and stupid since kindergarten!
I was so dazed by the time I made it to the restroom that I decided to pull a brazen move and tap on of the cheerleaders on the shoulder. I almost fainted when my finger went right through her.
Have you ever had a sensation like that? Like if your mind was willing your finger to move, but it wouldn’t. It’s really fucking strange.
What’s even more strange is all of a sudden being invisible. I’d been asking for it for years, but it’s not like I ever expected it to happen. I walked out of the restroom and back to American History.
The first few days of invisibility were great. I was able to go to school and pay attention for once without someone throwing a variety of words or objects in my direction.
The third day, in Math class, Shawn had even turned to Mary and made a remark.
“Wonder where Katherine is,” he said.
“I dunno,” Mary replied. “Probably getting weight loss surgery or off praying in a church somewhere.”
No one else said a word about me after that. After the fourth day, I realized something was different. I felt some sort of emptiness looming inside me. It’s not that I liked all the verbal assaults, it’s just that I was so accustomed to it. They might have all been assholes but at least they acknowledged my existence.
I’d been relieved and I’d been planning my revenge, too. I was invisible, for fucks sake! I could finally exact revenge on every bully who’d ever wronged me. I liked the idea and I didn’t like it at the same time. I’d always been taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. It was ingrained in my soul.
I thought maybe I could even use my new super power for good, though I wasn’t sure what I’d do. Maybe I could anonymously help those in need of something, like help.
On the fifth day, in Math class once again, I stared at the wall, unable to concentrate on my work, as usual. Guess I was bored. For some reason I wanted Shawn to turn around say something. Yea, his taunts hurt, but the more the other kids bashed me, the thicker my skin got.
I looked down at my hand while I was sitting in my desk, and it was slightly more transparent than in had been. Once again, I wanted to faint. People hadn’t been able to see me for five days, and now I was slowly losing sight of myself.
“What’s the point in this?” I thought to myself. “I don’t like dealing with these assholes, but dissipating doesn’t seem worth the trouble!” I suddenly realized, I don’t want to be invisible anymore, but simply not wanting to be wasn’t enough to not be.
It took two weeks of once again hopeful wishing before I became visible again. The next day in Math class, Shawn quipped, “Everybody scoot your desks over, fat ass is comin’. Where ya been fat ass?”
I stared at the floor as I sat in my desk, paying him no mind, but inside I was relieved.
There’s a moral to that story. I hated the kids I went to school with, and yeah, I know hate is a strong word. They tormented me for thirteen years relentlessly. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. Everything they said and did made me who I am today, because I set my mind to becoming better than they said I could.