Invisible Girl

Vivian Tollman had always wanted to be invisible. If she were invisible,  she could sneak into the kitchen for midnight snacks, or spy on people she didn’t like. As far as she could tell, there was no downside.

Vivian had been wishing for the power for years. Every star, every 11:11, every birthday. Maybe, she thought, if I keep wishing, it will come true.

If she had known what invisibility really meant, maybe she wouldn’t have wished so much.

6:15 a.m. Friday. Time to get up for school. Vivian reluctantly kicked back her sheets and stumbled into the bathroom down the hall for a quick shower. The startlingly hot water drumming against her shoulders woke her up. Fifteen minutes later, Vivian climbed out of the shower, wrapping a fluffy white towel around her shoulders. She walked over to the counter, extracted the hairdryer from the cabinet beneath the sink, and straightened. A foggy mirror was mounted to the wall before her. But . . . something was off.

Vivian couldn’t see her reflection.

It’s just the steam clouding the mirror, that’s all, she told herself as panic crawled up her throat. With a trembling hand, she wiped away some precipitation on the mirror.

There was no denying it now: her reflection was not there.

She glanced down at herself. Her body was still there. So why was she not in the mirror?

Unbelievable explanations churning in her head, Vivian tightened the towel and dashed back to her room, where she pulled on a skirt, a tee, and a jean jacket. She whipped her wet black hair into a bun and pounded down to the kitchen. Her mom would help her figure it out. Vivian believed that her mom could make everything better.

“H-hey, Mom?” she started, coming up behind her mother at the stove. She nibbled her finger nails nervously.

Mrs. Tollman cracked an egg into a frying pan before turning to the staircase. “Vivi, is that you?” she called.

“Mom, I’m over here.”

Mrs. Tollman spun around with a confused look. “Vivian? Where are you?”

Frowning, Vivian touched her mom’s shoulder. “I’m  right here –”

She was cut short by a shriek. “Ahh! What is that?!” Mrs. Tollman brushed Vivian’s hand off her shoulder. She shook her head.  “I can hear you, but where are you hiding?”

Vivian was now on the verge of tears. Was her mom playing some kind of joke on her? Blinking rapidly, she scurried upstairs to her older sister’s room. Kayla Tollman was gazing at herself in her mirror, straightening her sweatshirt. It was dark blue, and had an eagle on it — her high school’s mascot.

“Kayla?” Vivian whispered from the doorway.

“Hmm?” her sister replied. She was applying lipstick now.

“Can you see me?” Her voice trembled as she asked the questions.

Kayla capped her lipstick and glanced at the doorway. “Nah. Are you a ninja or something?” She fingered the complicated braid she’d done in her dark hair. “Want me to do your hair, Vivi?”

Vivian staggered back to her bedroom. Feeling sick, she steadied herself against the wall. Was she . . . invisible? She’d wished for the power for years, but now that she had it, it didn’t seem so fantastic.

She heard her mom’s muffled voice coming from the kitchen a floor below. “Kayla, Vivian! I made breakfast. Come and get it . . .”

Then her older sister’s footsteps passed Vivian’s room as she made her way to the kitchen.

A minute later, Mrs. Tollman said to Kayla, “Where’s Vivi? I heard her earlier, but now . . .?”

“Don’t know,” came Kayla’s response. “She was in the hall outside my room a few minutes ago. Asked if I could see her.”

Mrs. Tollman sighed deeply. “That girl had better get down here soon, or she’s going to have to go to school hungry.”

Vivian crawled back into bed and buried her face in the pillow. A sob escaped her throat. No one in her family could see her. What was she supposed to do?

Kayla came back upstairs to brush her teeth. Then she left the house. Outside Vivian’s window, Kayla started her car’s engine and drove herself to school.

“Vivian! Get down here, girl, you’re going to be late.” Her mother ascended the steps to the second floor. “Vivian Tollman!” her mother bellowed, storming into her room. “The bus will be here soon. It’s your fault that you’re going to be hungry all day!” She yanked the teal blankets off the bed, and her shouting tapered off for a moment. Then she stomped out of the bedroom, combing the house for her daughter.

Vivian cried quietly.

Her mother was outside her door again. “Hello, 9-1-1? My daughter is missing . . . she’s eleven . . . her name is Vivian Tollman . . .”

Her mom thought she was missing. Missing.

Vivian would have given anything to be seen again.

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