Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Always the Quiet Ones...

When people stopped noticing me at school I didn't mind. Generally, the people I had known since the primary years had turned into distorted funhouse mirror versions of themselves, those twisted traits that had reared their heads in fleeting glimpses now elongated, looming and defining. Those carefree days where the entire class went to each and every birthday party long gone, now mangled and wrangled into elitism, cliques and friendship circles.

Most frustrating at first, the friends I used to have now looked down their noses at me, I hadn't changed as they had, more interested in stories than boys, music than make-up. I wasn't unhappy to be alone in the school playground, or, more often, staying in the classroom to read a book or try writing one of my own.

As the bell sounded and my classmates returned to the room nobody acknowledged me, they just situated themselves around me, like ants adjusting to a stone dropped in their path.

It didn't bother me that my parents didn't notice me either, that I would come home and go up to my room, that dinner would be on a plate on the kitchen work surface, that I would eat it quietly and quickly and that I'd go to bed, get up and leave in the morning without any hint of that my presence had been acknowledged

But it did frustrate me that I couldn't get served at the fish and chip shop on a Friday afternoon. It did frustrate me that the bus wouldn't stop if I was the only one waiting, or, if I'd managed to climb aboard, it would ignore my ringing of the bell when my destination approached. It did frustrate me that the teacher started marking me absent from class and that, soon, the plate with my dinner on disappeared from the kitchen work surface.

My first thought was that I must be dead and that I was wandering around as a ghost, but why did my tummy rumble? Surely, if I was a ghost I would be unable to eat and wouldn't even need to eat, and I definitely did need to eat and I undoubtedly could eat. I didn't object to making my own dinner, indeed, I ate much more heathily now that I did (and I wouldn't forget that I was a vegetarian, unlike, on occasion, my father). Quite clearly, as far as I was concerned, I had not died, I was not dead, just nobody noticed me.

Now that I noticed that I was entirely unnoticed it started to wear upon me. Perhaps the joy of being ordinarily ignored was that I could, if I wanted, suddenly do something spontaneous and incredible and everyone would notice me and wonder why I had hidden such wonders from the world. I hoped to do this with my stories, that years from now, when school and living with my parents were things of the past, I would release a story out into the wild and people would read it and it would fill their hearts and they would tell their friends and these old people would hear of it and try to remember me and think about how unassuming I always was and nod their heads and know.

But now I can't even catch someone's eye, I can't tempt a cat my way with the clicking of my tongue, I can't put my arms around my mother when we're both feeling lonely, I can't share anything with anyone but myself. I wonder whether it is worse to live yet to be of no consequence or to have never been born at all?

I don't go to school anymore, some days I stay in bed until its dark and then try to sleep again, even in my dreams I'm alone. Occasionally I'll wake up with a warm glow of optimism and I'll get dressed, go outside, walk around and enjoy the day, smile at the people who pass me by and hope that, somehow, one of them will notice me. I don't try to make a spectacle of myself, I just want to be noticed for who I am, I just want someone to acknowledge me and make my presence seem in some, maybe ultimately insignficant, way seem all worthwhile.