The Invisible Girl
Between studying for my teacher certification exam, teaching classes all day, family, and the holidays, time to keep up with this blog has been rather thin. So for your holiday enjoyment, I present a very, very short, different kind of Christmas story. See you all in January!
The Invisible Girl
Melea Anderson was invisible.
She stood at the cluttered counter, the ice puddling in her soft drink as the clerk ignored her.
Two customers pushed past her and placed their purchases on the counter. The clerk looked up, nodded, and chatted with the two women while he rang up the items. The ladies left, and Melea found herself at the front of the counter once again.
“Excuse me.” She hoped she could catch the clerk’s attention before he became involved in tidying up the area around the register. But her voice seemed to be as insubstantial as she was.
“Excuse me.” This time she set her cup on the counter and waved her hand in the clerk’s face.
He frowned and answered the Bluetooth clipped to his right ear.
Melea sighed soundlessly.
After a moment, he rang up her purchase, his eyes never making contact, his attention centered on the phone call.
As she walked to the car with her now-diluted drink, Melea considered the sad state of her life.
It wasn’t as if she were a tiny thing. At five foot eight inches in her stocking feet, she massed a good deal of space. But something about her – personality, mannerisms, something — made her unnoticeable.
She halted in the parking lot and considered the unpalatable drink she held. Melea tossed it in the trash can and closed her eyes.
She found herself on a silvered beach, gun metal grey waves lapping the sand at her feet.
The setting sun stained the sky raspberry pink laced with strips of thin ribbons of white cloud. In the distance, she could hear the seabirds; the high pitched lonely keen stabbed her heart.
Melea sat on the sand and wrapped her arms around her knees as tears tracked silent trails down her face.
“Mom! Hey, Mom!” Thirteen-year-old Melea raced into the sun-lit kitchen, sheets of notebook paper clutched in her hand. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies tickled her nose.
Her mother stood at the stove, lifting the still warm cookies onto a platter. Melea’s little brother, Peter, sat at the bar, his feet drumming against the counter as he chattered about his latest video game.
“And then, three big dragons came up through the dungeon floor.”
“Mom, Mrs. Athleberry gave me an A plus on my essay.” Melea vibrated with happiness and held the papers out for her mother to see.
“That’s nice, dear. Dragons, oh my. How ever did you manage to take on three dragons at once?” Mrs. Anderson smiled at Peter and put another cookie on his plate.
“I charged up my sword to level six and launched my tsunami attack.” Peter crammed another cookie in his mouth, his free arm demonstrating the attack.
“She said my essay was erudite. I had to look up the word. It means ‘showing profound knowledge.’ Isn’t erudite a wonderful word?” Melea laid the paper on the counter where her mother would be sure to see it.
Mrs. Anderson laid the platter of cookies on top of the paper and ruffled Peter’s dark curls. “You’ll have to show me how you beat those nasty dragons after supper, okay, Pete?”
The light went out of Melea’s face as bitterness washed over her. She felt hot tears sting the backs of her eyes and blinked to keep them from falling. Without a word, she turned and walked out of the kitchen, head down, shoulders slumped.
Melea couldn’t recall the exact moment when she discovered a gift for slipping through time. Perhaps it was in high school when as an embarrassed junior she wanted to disappear. Two of her classmates had discussed a rather large portion of her anatomy as they passed her in the halls. The girls weren’t deliberate in their actions; they just didn’t see her shrinking against the wall to avoid being trampled. Mortified, Melea wished the earth would open up and swallow her. A heartbeat later, she stood on the parapet of a castle overlooking a battlefield.
Afterward she assumed the lecture in history class about the Battle of Hastings determined her destination. Whatever the reason, she learned to sideslip through time whenever the mood took her, escaping from an invisible physical world to become an invisible observer in time.
She didn’t know what physical laws kept her grounded in the past without allowing her to touch or hold anything. She couldn’t walk through walls or fly through the air, but no one could touch her, hear her, or even see her. People walked through her; she had even slipped and fallen down a cliff once without being hurt. She could see and hear without leaving any impression on the past.
Melea found it ironic in light of the her inability to make any impression on the present as well.
Even being an eye witness to history didn’t help distinguish her. Only once had a professor commented on the accuracy of a paper she had written; the remainder gave her an A and singled out other students’ papers for recognition.
She stayed on the silver beach as the light fled ahead of the darkness. A cool breeze brought a million stars with it, sprinkling the night like heavenly fireflies.
“Isn’t there someone, somewhere who can see me?” The whisper blended with the night, an unseen plea fraught with the shards of her shattered heart.
Melea laid her head on her arms and closed her eyes and wished she’d never been born.
A gentle coo drifted across her senses, its feather light touch soothing her bleeding emotions.
Startled, she opened her eyes to a lamp-lit room with rough walls. Fear skittered along her spine. She’d never time slipped from one place to another. Each trip always returned her to her own time frame, although she could time slip multiple times in one day.
Melea blinked, yet the scene remained the same.
A young girl and older man hovered over a hay-filled stone trough. The scent of the green fodder tickled Melea’s nose.
Inside the trough, wrapped in a brown cloth lay a baby, the lamplight glinting off the soft down on the baby’s head.
Intrigued, Melea crept closer, even though she knew the couple couldn’t see her. She peeked over the edge as the baby opened its eyes and stared upward at her.
Shock sparked like lightning along her nerves as the baby’s gaze held her immobile.
Melea fought to breathe as recognition filled the child’s eyes. She could feel the smile in those tiny eyes as the child’s entire personality poured into her soul, wrapping her in warmth and love.
A small hand lifted free of the blankets swathing the infant.
Hesitant, fearful lest this be one more cruel joke the universe played upon her, Melea stretched out a finger.
The little hand closed around her finger and held on.
Tears poured from Melea’s eyes. “How? How can you see me? How do you know me?”
The child’s parents were as oblivious to her presence as every other person she had met in her life.
Yet the baby saw her.
Deep in her soul something stirred. The chains which bound her spirit in doubt and despair thinned and melted into nothingness. Melea basked in the sunshine of the baby’s love and felt wings of hope unfurl.
The scuffle of sandaled feet sent a curl of anxiety through her stomach, but Melea refused to look away from the baby. If she looked away, she might lose the connection, the sense of acknowledgment that defined her for the first time in her life.
Along the edges of her vision, she noticed rough-dressed, bearded men and boys crowd around the trough, their clothes smelling of animals and sweat.
The baby’s parents seemed a bit taken aback, but quick words from the men reassured them.
Melea didn’t understand the words, but the tones reflected great joy and excitement. One by one, the newcomers joined her at the trough; calloused hands passed through her, reaching out to the baby with tentative touch.
“Yeshua.” The child’s mother spoke, her words soft, her face tired from childbirth, yet alight with an inner radiance.
“Yeshua.” The newcomers repeated the name, wonder and reverence underlying their voices.
Yeshua tightened his grip on Melea’s finger and the warmth of those eyes which seemed to see through her, see every slight and invisible moment of her life, see the missed opportunities, the loneliness of each waking moment, burned away the ice and chill inside her.
“Yeshua.” Melea added her voice to the others, unmindful they could not hear her. What did it matter? Yeshua heard her. Yeshua saw her. He knew her as no one else ever would.
The lamps brightened, washing the cave in light.
“No!” Melea cried out in fear as the cave faded away into the sun washed parking lot of the convenience store.
“No.” She whimpered as the one moment that mattered most vanished like a dream. “Yeshua, don’t leave me.”
As she spoke the words, Melea seemed to hear the baby’s coo. She closed her eyes, hoping to see the flickering beams of the cavern lamps, but only lights and shadows behind her closed eyelids remained. With a sick feeling in her stomach, she opened her eyes and watched a battered blue pickup pull up next to the gas pumps.
I will never leave you.
The words started as a small spark in the center of her being, exploding outward and reverberating throughout time and space, acknowledging her, claiming her, marking her as unique and filling her from the moment of her birth to the moment of her death with a sense of purpose.
Melea raised her head, looked around at the scruffy station which seemed to sparkle for a moment. The sky spread a blue canopy splashed with white overhead and she heard birdsong.
She threw back her head and laughed a child’s laugh.