Invisible

Prompt: Invisible


Dear Wednesday,

Have you ever wished you could become invisible at will? I certainly have, especially when I was a child, when I was under the impression that the world revolved about my precious self and that every conversation I wasn’t privy to had me as the main topic.

This really wasn’t vanity— I think I just desperately needed some validation. I always felt different, or separate, or like an outlier. I was horribly afraid of being seen (since I didn’t feel “normal”), but equally horrified at the thought of being unseen and unheard. Is it at all common for children feel like this?

Now my thoughts are more mundane. I’d like to be invisible and sit in the back seat of the flooring guys’ truck and see if I’m getting a fair installation estimate or if I’m getting ripped off. Sigh.

Related to the theme of Invisible Man, here are a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon emperor invisible

cartoon bizarro

cartoon dating invisible man


Peace and sanity,

~~FP

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Running with Friends

Prompt: Age

leonardo_dicaprio-gt

 

Leep looked in the mirror. Now, he didn’t like looking in the mirror as a rule, except when he was shaving, and even then he merely concentrated on the contours of his cheek and the avoidance of a blood accident. But today was his birthday, a landmark birthday, and he needed to have the courage to look.

There were lines around his eyes. He could see them without even moving closer to the glass; and they couldn’t be laugh lines, since Leep didn’t laugh all that much. And there were deep lines around his mouth when he just relaxed the muscles in his face. Was his neck a bit saggy? Leep didn’t know. He was pretty sure, however, that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t have a neck like his, bordering on saggy.

The problem was, Leep was no closer to marriage than he had been a year ago, or two years ago, or even three. He didn’t even have a girlfriend. He’d been pretending that those dinners and lunches with his publisher, Amanda, were dates. That’s what he told the guys at work, if they asked. But she wasn’t interested in Leep as a person, just as a potential children’s book author, which really, was fine with Leep.

As for Lizzie (known as Beth to everyone else), well, driving by her house once a week in a test driven automobile, or dropping off clippings about her murdered son-in-law as an excuse to see her, or hanging out with Franco the Butcher just because he happened to be at her house a lot, did not exactly constitute a romantic relationship.

He checked his Mark Nepo. “Stop recording the poetry of life,” he advised in his book, “and enter the poetry of life.”

That sounded like good advice.

But Leep didn’t know where the entrance was.

So he got out his notebook, and wrote:

Step 1: Date
Step 2: Girlfriend
Step 3: Wedding
Step 4: Children

It didn’t sound very poetic, but these were concrete steps towards entering life the way other people did.

This is why Leep found himself, on his landmark birthday, in front of his HP laptop at the dining room table, with a lukewarm bottle of Twin Sails Hefeweizen on a cardboard coaster beside the computer, trying to fill out the profile information on the website “Plenty of Fish in the Sea”.

He was a writer, this shouldn’t be so hard. Though he had to admit that composing a list of interests that would intrigue a young woman was far removed from recording the adventures of the Blue Rabbit. Or was it?

Favourite food: Carrots
Favourite leisure activitis: Running with friends; digging tunnels
Best feature: Ears

Yes, this could work! Leep smiled and rubbed his jaw, and suddenly realized he’d forgotten to shave that morning. He would go without this day. He’d had enough of the mirror.

Rescue

Prompt: Zip

dog rescue nepal

“So, you’re the parents,” said Bob.

Envy tensed involuntarily. God, Bob, please don’t. We had a talk about your Radical Honesty. Please zip it this one time. Don’t tell my parents what I’ve said about them. Please please.

“Yes,” said Envy’s mother. “We are Envy’s biological parents.” Edwina Applegate was small and energetic, with grey-streaked smokey hair pulled back into a loose bun at the nape of her neck. She wore a very expensive red sheath, that hung upon her spare frame in a perfect, flattering drape. The “biological parents” remark was meant to be amusing. Actually, Envy did smother a tiny smile at her mother’s refusal to take the bait that Bob seemed to be offering, but on the other hand she felt the sting of her mother’s words too, because they implied what Envy knew to be true: that she was a disappointment to them. No one envied her beauty, and no one envied the wealth that her ex-husband had mostly squandered.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Bob said, honestly, taking her father’s outstretched hand and finding the grip rather overdone, as if Mr Applegate was making a point. He was a big man, his sturdy stoutness disguised by a loose, charcoal-covered sports jacket and an open shirt. He had a healthy crop of light brown hair, probably tinted since there was no grey at all.

While they enjoyed cocktails before dinner, Envy was careful to keep the topics of conversation neutral, knowing Bob’s honest opinion on the wet spring, the number of potholes in suburban and rural roads, and the dearth of fuel efficient cars outside of Europe would not cause offence to anyone.

“I take it Cash and Virginia and the baby aren’t joining us for dinner,” said Envy. She took a sip of her Bloody Mary, suddenly wishing it was bloodier (more alcoholic) and suppressed a sigh.

“Echo has colic,” said Edwina. “And you know your brother.”

“He’s becoming quite the doting mother,” said Darwin Applegate.

Bob’s honesty extended to his facial expressions. He looked surprised.

Envy said quickly, “There’s nothing wrong with Cash loving his baby daughter.”

“I bet you wish you’d had more time to spend with your kids, Mr Applegate,” said Bob. “You know, up-and-coming millionaire and all.”

This was met with an uncomprehending silence, until Envy coughed and said, “Bob trains dogs who rescue people from earthquakes.”

“Like when buildings collapse?” asked Edwina, an unwitting ally.

“Exactly like that,” said Envy.

“Do you personally supervise the excavations?” asked Darwin.

“No,” said Bob. “I just train the dogs.”

“Oh,” said Darwin.

They took their seats in the smaller family dining room. The table cloth was a white embroidered coffee-coloured sateen, with fresh-picked violets packed into three tiny vases set evenly spaced upon the table. They would wilt within a few hours.

A server brought in their dinner, platter by platter; each of them were casually passed around the table. Steak, roasted vegetables, truffled mushrooms.

Envy put her hand in her lap and glanced at her watch. Oh god. Seriously? We’ve only been her forty-five minutes? She looked around the table. No one was smiling. It could be worse, surely?

“This chimichurri is outstanding,” said Bob, making an effort.

“Thank you,” said Edwina. “Our cook, Connie, is from Peru.”

“Legally?” asked Bob.

Envy discreetly reached under the table, put her hand on Bob’s thigh, and squeezed. It was a warning and a plea. Bob took it as encouragement. He put his hand on hers and squeezed back.

“Just what do you mean by that, Bob?” asked Darwin, his voice disturbingly neutral in tone.

“Well I hear a lot of servants are in the country illegally, I mean it is commonplace. Probably all your friends do it too.”

“Connie was hired via a respectable agency,” said Edwina.

“Ah,” said Bob. “Good on you, then.” He lifted his wine glass in a toast, and emptied it in one gulp. He turned to Envy and smiled. His expression was, See? Not so bad after all, right?

Pretty bad, Envy’s eyes told him. She wasn’t sure if he got the message, because as the server was refilling his wine glass, Bob was staring at her mother. Then a quick glance at her father, and back to Edwina again. Woman past her prime. Rich old bigot who dyes his hair.

An odd kind of group telepathy seemed to occur. Edwina looked up and caught his Bob’s eye. Darwin looked at them both. No one looked at Envy. In a flash she knew what Bob was thinking. Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it.

“I believe in family values,” said Darwin abruptly. He knew what this fucking young and ignorant man was thinking, oh yes he did.

“In my experience, family values people are the first ones to cheat on their, uh, spouses,” said Bob. He cut a roasted carrot into tiny pieces. “You know those bible thumper types, always being caught with their pants down.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Darwin. “We believe in Jesus Christ in this household, and the Church believes in the family above all else.”

“Catholic, right?” asked Bob.

“We are Catholic, yes,” said Envy. Jesus God, if you’re there, help!

“‘We’?” said Bob.

Oops. She hadn’t told Bob that she’d returned to the church after Marcos tried to kill her. Was that an important ommission?

She stood up. “We have to go,” she said.

“Sit down, Envy,” said her father.

“No, we really do. We have tickets,” Envy said. “Bob?”

“If they have tickets, Darwin…” her mother said, the colour starting to return to her face.

Bob stood up. Someone fetched their jackets. Bob didn’t speak again until he said, “It was sure interesting meeting you both,” as they shook hands in parting.

Her parents, not being honesty radicals, were silent.

Rusty’s Emporium

Prompt: Tempted

shoe-repair-shop

“It’s very tempting,” said Envy, and both she and Mr McElroy knew she was lying. She held the object up to the light streaming from the window.

“My sister-in-law sent it up from St Therese— says it is a one of a kind find, reclaimed from a sunken ship off the coast.”

“Really?” said Envy. “I didn’t know they used Krazy Glue to embed coloured glass into little wooden boxes that you can get at the Dollarama, in the eighteenth century.”

Mr McElroy chuckled. “She sent about half a dozen of them. My guess is even the cruise ship tourists didn’t fall for these little boxes.” He took it from her gently, as if it indeed was a valuable and treasured relic, attached a stick-on price tag, and put it in the glass display counter along with masses of silver-coloured rings, bracelets, and earrings.

$9.99.

“I’ll be bargained down, I fear,” said Mr McElroy.

Envy had discovered his shop, Rusty’s Emporium and Used Books, on one of her restless walks around her new environment. The store was two and a half blocks away from the condo, part of the neighbourhood that hadn’t yet been gentrified,  snuggled up to a corner grocery on one side and a run-down bicycle and shoe repair shop on the other. All doomed to be squeezed out eventually, torn down and replaced by elite plate glass storefronts with mannequins, and artisan, gluten-free bake shops.

Mr McElroy had a consignment area in the shop, where Envy brought her old evening and cocktail gowns, because they were not really appropriate gifts for the Diabetes Association’s clothing drive. When she thought back on it, she and Marcus had attended many events where such attire was mandatory: Galas, charity balls, inauguration parties, seasonal celebrations. Now Envy stayed at home, eating sesame crisps and watched Netflix, brooding about her ex-husband and desperate for a new relationship. One didn’t need evening gowns for that.

“Actually the black dress with the teal stripe sold on Wednesday,” said Mr McElroy. He opened the till and counted out seven dollars.

“Ah, thank you,” said Envy. She didn’t tell him she had actually come into the shop to buy back that very dress, as she had a second date with Bob, this time to a restaurant. She found the teal stripe on the dress very slimming, and she’d felt bloated and puffy lately, maybe a result of too many sesame crisps.

She’d have to wear the backup fat dress, which she was wise enough to keep in her closet for an emergency such as this.

That Saturday, Bob picked her up in his Ford F-150 and they had a delicious meal at the Four Season’s restaurant. She was comfortable in her fat dress, but not comfortable enough that she let Bob into the condo after their dinner and coffees. She was tempted, but he’d got a bit too drunk, and anyway she had church early in the morning.

She didn’t tell Bob about the church part. He was a bit of a lout, but she wanted him to be her lout for awhile, and he would laugh at her return to the Catholic Church just because her husband had tried to murder her. He didn’t know about the murder part either. Envy didn’t want to give him any ideas.

Magical Ingredient

Prompt: Expert

french toast 1

“I’m actually an expert in French Toast,” said Stuart, as he looked at the menu. The restaurant had only one menu for all day, so the breakfast selections were listed, even though, a warning said, they stopped serving at 11:30 am. Lunch, however, was available at dinner time, though the dinner entrees were not offered until 5:00 pm. It took a little expertise to navigate the menu at Chez Tout le Monde.

“Are you?” said Envy, actually interested. “What is the secret to perfect French Toast?”

“Well, use French bread, add a dash of vanilla to the egg and milk custard, and a dash of salt, and let the bread soak up the custard for about 4 minutes before frying in a hot, buttered pan,” said Stuart. “There, now you know everything, I might as well leave, I have nothing more to give.”

“Hold on,” said Envy. “Salt?”

“Yes, salt, the magical ingredient in all sweet dishes.”

“Ok, wow. Well yes, you may go now,” said Envy. Stuart returned her smile.

They both ordered linguine with clam sauce, and a half a carafe of Sauvignon Blanc. This lunch offering was also available at dinner, should they choose to return to Chez Tout Le Monde at a later date and time.

“So how’s the date going so far?” Stuart asked.

“Pretty good really, don’t you think?” said Envy.

“Even though I’m gay and have a boyfriend?”

Especially because you are gay and have a boyfriend,” Envy said. “But do you know any straight guys? Because I’m getting desperate.”

“Dr Chao?” said Stuart.

“He’s married, and seems happily so, as he was not thrilled when I almost asked him out,” said Envy.

“Oh dear,” said Stuart. “Marcus is a tough act to follow.”

“Yes,” Envy said with a sigh. “So gorgeous and charming and talented in many ways. A shame he tried to murder me.”

“I know, right?” said Stuart.

They both took a thoughtful sip of the wine, which was ice cold and refreshing on a warm afternoon.

“Wait,” said Stuart. “I think I do know someone. Greg’s half-brother, who I met one Thanksgiving. He’s kind of hunky and definitely free.”

“Why is he free though?”

“How cynical we are,” said Stuart. “I believe he is misunderstood. He does like his sports, can be a little bit careless in his speech, holds a few politically incorrect opinions, but has impeccable grooming.”

“I’m interested,” said Envy, not caring how desperate she sounded.

She was desperate. It had been a long time.