Portrait of an Invisible Girl
It’s like I’m part of the background. Their eyes just gloss over me. It’s like they can’t differentiate between me and the wallpaper. Is this what it is like to be invisible? Am I invisible?
Sometimes I think someone looks at me, notices me, but their eyes flick away. No one stops by me ever. They just keep moving. I’m always alone.
It’s because I’m surrounded by beauty greater than I. Always. The beautiful come and go, but they are always more beautiful. I always stay here, stuck in the same place, day after day. And I am not beautiful.
Until he came. The first time he just looked at me and tipped his head before turning away again. But he actually noticed me.
The next time he came, he actually looked at me and was about to make his way over. But something else distracted him.
There was a long time before he came back again. But I had been alone for so long that time seemed to be irrelevant. With time, I faded like everything else. I didn’t think he would come back; I thought he had faded away into the sunshine. But he came back.
He had grown up. And forgotten about me, I think. He didn’t even look at me. But then, as he began to leave, he approached me.
It had been years since he had been to the museum – not since starting university. The museum was why he had decided to study art. As a child he had spent many mornings there. He thought he had changed a lot in the period of time he had been away, but the museum hadn’t changed, not even the staff, the regular Saturday morning museum goers, or the artists sitting on benches with their sketch pads.
He wasn’t there to reminisce. There was something he needed to search for, that he couldn’t ignore any longer. Something or someone that had haunted and inspired his dreams and art for a long time now. The museum seemed smaller than he remembered it; like the world and all the ideas in it, everything became smaller as his own mind became bigger. He searched high and low and couldn’t find what or who he was looking for. He hated that feeling of trying to remember something but only being able to recall the hazy outlines and none of the substance.
His memories, dreams, and thoughts were all blending together, getting muddled. With a final glance around this place that had framed his childhood, he decided to let go of this dream. Maybe that was all it had been in the first place. As he left, something at the front of the museum, unassuming and hidden, stole his gaze. Her eyes followed him as he pushed his way through the crowd, his eyes trained on the pastel-faced girl.
“Hello, beautiful.” He whispered to her.
The museum founder’s daughter smiled back from her painting by the door.
By Elizabeth Fust