Unseen Life

His translucent hands…

He held them up to his bathroom mirror.

The disease. The curse. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair he had to live that way. It was no way for any human to live, if he could call himself that.

He opened the cabinet behind the mirror to obtain his last vial of skin-colored makeup.

Most people in the world were born visible, and remain visible by default. He considered them the lucky ones. They woke up visible and remained so without effort. Not him. He was the what the media called the Unseen.

He applied makeup to his fingers.

He wanted to be visible for his job where his co-workers appreciated how eager and amicable he was in his support role. His boss needed to see him so she could pat him on the back and tell him how much of a big help he always is around the office.

He yawned and began to apply the flesh-colored makeup to his fingers.

He wanted to be visible for his family. They needed to know what he was like when he smiled, or when he cried– like when he lost his sweet grandmother.

Much of the junk in the makeup bottle was thick and sticky. It was an old bottle.

Need to hit the store…

He wanted strangers on the street to see him. To see him see them. Sometimes he longed to be ugly, because there was nothing uglier in this world than to be an unseen.

He stared at himself, at his nothingness, in the mirror where his face used to be just days earlier.

He touched his face.

He was sick, tired, and he’d been out of work and stuck inside for days, so he couldn’t do anything for anyone. He couldn’t work so he’d lost his entire form during those vacation days.

He left the bathroom for the living room.

If he wanted to remain visible to the human eye he had to continue to do things for people. Those were the rules. He had to do things for people and satisfy them in some way, and by doing that, the universe or whoever cursed him with that disease, would grant him momentary visibility. Those were the rules.

His phone chimed.

He was a slave to his disease.

He could feel his hand and his fingers but it was still difficult to guide his hand to his phone.

It was a text from his sister.

Sometimes he forgot where his hands were located.

Stress. It was probably stress. And age. Getting older wasn’t making his Unseen status any easier.

His sister needed him to pick up their mother from the store.

He sighed.

He lived in another state and he was tired. But, picking up his mother from store would be enough to restore visibility to his hand for at least another week.

He started to apply makeup to his hand.

He chose to apply the last of his makeup to his hand. He didn’t like how his face looked with makeup on it. He didn’t like how his face looked without…

It didn’t quite match his mocha colored flesh but it was the only thing he could find in the last minute.

He exhaled.

There was no cure for his curse. He learned that the invisibility was permanent, even in death. There was no sense crying about it. It was who he was. One of the Unseen citizens who just had to keep doing things for people if he wanted people to continue seeing him. If he wanted to exist, he had to do things for people.

He lifted his hand to his face.

His hand looked like a mannequin’s.

The problem was, each time he lost visibility, it took more effort –doing things for other people– to restore it.

And the makeup was already starting to disappear.

He put on his cap.

The invisibility had gotten so bad by the time he was thirty years old it would even envelop his clothes. So, no amount of loud colors or glow in the dark paint helped. A slave to his curse.

“Tre!” He called.

His dog rumbled out of their bedroom and jumped on his chest.

“You walked already.” He petted Tre’s head.

Dogs and cats could see him. Only humans couldn’t.

“I’ll walk you when I’m back,” He said.

Tre rolled onto his stomach, allowing his tongue to droop down his snout.

“I see you, buddy.” He rubbed his belly. “Thank you for seeing me.”

He stared at his jacket on the hook before swiping it.

He liked how he looked in his jacket and hat. He just wished it remained long enough for him to appreciate how he looked in it.

His jacket vanished before he could exit the building.

He held on to how good he looked in his mind.

There was a lot of foot traffic outside. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people on one block with either somewhere or nowhere to go in a hurry.

In a city built for thousand but populated by millions, everyone recognized everyone else, even when they didn’t. And in an apartment of one, outside of his dog, there was nobody to see him. The unfortunate bastard bastard could rarely even see himself.

He frowned.

The makeup on his hand dissolved as he set off towards the metro station.

Hopefully a day in the office and of service to others would allow him to be visible again. Even for a moment…

He texted his mother.

His transparent hands danced on his invisible phone– since he’d memorized his mother’s number and the qwerty keys on his smartphone.

Using the voice option was a painful reminder that one day, no matter how hard he worked, the world would no longer see him.

He texted his mother again.

See you soon…

Though.. he knew she would not see him.

Fleeting Tales Vol. XI

I should have finished my book years ago. Instead…

I stared a hole through my monitor. The one line I typed in Word was starting to blur because I refused to blink because I was tired and I knew blinking was too close to sleep.

All the talent in the world and I was still drafting my novel.

I sighed. I took my second shot of rum.

I used to laugh and scoff at authors who spent decades writing their books.

That will never be me. I’ll be published.

Decades vanished, and I was no closer to The End than I was a decade ago because I keep starting from the beginning.

I stood and start punching the air.

I shadowboxed when I felt anxious.

Jab. Cross. Jab, cross, uppercut, roundhouse….

Sometimes I’d set my boxing app and go the whole twelve rounds trying to figure out what to write next. What to do next.

I took a seat.

When I started my novel I was forever young, single, and directionless with all the time in the world. I was also a terrible writer. But I had time, and youthful exuberance (ignorance) on my side. Now, I was just old and careful and too painfully aware of my mortality. I was confused at to whether I should care more or care less at my age.

I typed a line.

My main character was now in the middle of an existential crisis. It’s all I knew.

Write what you know, right?

I closed Microsoft Word and reopened my Youtube browser.

I chose not to care as much anymore. It was my choice. It made little sense to waste anymore time on a story I’ve failed to finish for more than a decade.

I clicked on a channel about cameras and filmmaking.

It was cool. A lot of quick cuts and After effects.

I yawned. I clicked on Microsoft Word and reopened my story.

I needed to finish my book. I couldn’t go a third decade without finishing my book. It was the first book of a series. I’d be damned if I died before I finished that story.

I wrote a paragraph.

My main character was a twelve year old was crumbling under the weight of an existential crisis. That was how I would write the chapter. A twelve year old child in a fantasy world suffering from a real adult world problem.

I smirked.

I felt hope. I would finish my book in the next ten years. I no longer cared whether it was trash or whether anybody will read it.

Hope.

F*ck yeah.

I kept writing.

Random Quest II

Remain still…

Eagle Tattoo Png Photo - Pocket Compass Tattoo Design (441x451), Png Download

He laid his rifle and compass on the grass before taking a seat on a rock.

His soldier, Ash, must have been halfway towards the sunrise before realizing he was no longer behind him.

He smirked.

That kid… that girl… His soldier was young and enthusiastic with good knees, and would often walk ahead of him even though he should always be in the lead because he was her superior officer and she was the soldier.

Ash returned. “The sun is setting.”

“I see that,” He replied.

“Why are we stopping?” Ash questioned. “The shadows are on our tail.”

“The shadows are always on our tail,” He said. “Always will be.”

“Which is why we continue west during the day…. Sir,” Ash drew a cone. “We’re down to our last shelter cone.”

“I’m aware.” He massaged his knees.

“And we’re low on ammunition,” Ash added.

“That we are,” He said.

Ash groaned before taking a seat on the grass beside him.

“Ever seen the sunset?” He asked.

“We walk west,” Ash answered. “The sun sets in the west.”

“But have you ever paused to watch the sun… set?” He asked. “Or even the sun rise.”

Ash turned her mouth. “No… why would I?”

The young soldier looked frustrated, but he couldn’t tell whether the frustration stemmed from his questions, or his decision to rest.

“We fight shadows and we walk west,” Ash said. “There is no purpose in standing still to look up.”

“Why do we walk west?” He asked.

“Because… its what we were created to do,” Ash said.

“You sound frustrated,” He said.

“You continuously stop and ask silly question, sir.” Ash stood. “We are wasting time?”

“And you never wonder why we walk west…” He questioned again.

“The prophets said so,” Ash replied. “Our purpose is west.”

“What’s West?” He inquired. “I’ve lapped the world and have seen nothing.”

Ash scoffed.

“Ever wonder what’s West? Why we walk, West?” He questioned.

“No.” Ash turned her back on him.

“Why not east? Or North…”

“No…”

“Or South?”

No!” Ash paused to inhale. “We will know our purpose when we find it.”

“You sound so certain,” He said.

“It is not our job to be certain, sir,” Ash answered with venom.

“Is it not…” He replied.

“Stand up, sir…” Ash commanded. The enemy is clos–“

“Remain still.” A soft whisper carried on the wind. “Still… remain stilllll…”

“Shadows…” Ash drew her rifle. “They’re here, sir.”

“Yeah, as expected.” He reached down to reclaim his rifle from the grass.

Ash’s eyes widened as she stared behind him. “The sun sets on us… We need to move west.”

The girl looked ready for a fight.

“You go…” He said.

“What?” Ash reached for his arm. “Move, sir…now!”

He was done fighting. He no longer had the energy or faith or desire to fight.

He handed his rifle to Ash. “I’ll remain to watch the sunset.”

Ash dimmed her eyes at him before removing her hold. “You’re a stupid old man.”

He smirked.

It took the girl longer than he expected to stop calling him sir. He lost a bet with himself.

“Perhaps.” He reclaimed his compass from the grass and handed it to her. “Lead whoever you come across and lead them well.”

Ash snatched the compass and shook her head at him. “Stupid…”

Ash took off towards the what was left of the sun, that time without turning back. His soldier quickly disappeared below the setting horizon and over the grassy distance.

He wished Ash well. He hoped for her to meet someone younger and that she would lead them well.

A chill on his neck.

“I knew you’d catch up eventually,” He said.

“Remain… still,” The loudening whisper commanded.

He drew his canteen and took a drink as the shadows around him grew.

The sun was all but gone. The shadows were all but on top of him.

“Alright… I’m remaining still…” He called. “Now what?”

The sun vanished, stars appeared, and scythe shaped tentacles emerged from the grass.

Fleeting Tale Vol. 10

No amount of caffeine could have woken him up that morning.

He stumbled off the elevator and shuffled his way through the dimly lit halls of his office building.

He didn’t feel like himself. He felt like someone else was in control of his body and he was just the passenger.

He swiped his badge.

Boop!

He opened the door and entered his office through the kitchenette.

The office was quiet, which was usual for a Tuesday.

He was an hour behind his usual schedule but he was certain there wouldn’t be enough people present to notice.

He entered his office, gently shut the door, hung up his bookbag and jacket before taking a seat to power his computer.

He never shuts down his computer. He simply logs out, because it takes a whole millennia for it to boot, and part of him was hoping the constant running would burn out the computer so his employer would be forced to either get him a new one or telework.

He was burning out. He only logs out and never shuts down.

He left his office for the kitchen.

His coffee was cold. He needed the microwave.

He needed to believe the caffeine would kick in eventually.

“Morning?” Someone called.

He looked over his shoulder to greet the old man. “Morning, how was your weekend?”

“It was fine, thank you,” His old coworker replied.

“Was the office busy yesterday?” He asked.

“The office was closed,” His old coworker replied.

“Oh, wow,” He itched his beard. “I teleworked yesterday.”

“The boss let us out early on Friday,” His old coworker said.

“I can imagine,” He responded. “The place must’ve been a ghost town.”

His old coworker nodded.

“The boss here?” He asked.

“Not yet,” His old coworker replied.

“Okay, let me know if you need me for anything,” He said.

“I will,” His old coworker waved before exiting the kitchen.

He popped his coffee in the microwave and set it for thirty seconds before stretching his ailing knees.

He questioned whether there was a different life for him. Whether he had reached his cosmic peak, and working hard to leave the office life was like fighting gravity and that he’d be far happier accepting his pre-destined position in life.

He pulled his coffee from the microwave with two seconds left on the timer.

The coffee was lukewarm, but he didn’t have the patience to wait another thirty seconds for his caffeine. He needed his caffeine. He could do nothing about his mental tiredness, but the physical tiredness…. caffeine will hold him over until its time to head home.

He returned to his office and immediately guzzled down half of the lukewarm coffee.

He sat in front of his computer and opened his email.

No new emails.

The coffee was failing to rejuvenate him.

He had to accept the reality that no amount of coffee or prayers or well wishes will replenish his mental and physical energy.

He sighed.

It was time to accept the reality that he will always be tired. Tired and bored was his lot in life, and ironically, the acceptance of that truth was his one chance of finding peace. If he can’t find success, then would dedicate his life to finding peace. It was all he could ever hope for.

He forced himself to smile before opening his word processor to begin his work.