I was always a curious child, my mind yearned to reach out and touch every facet of life around me, but most of all it yearned to mould itself into the jigsaw that was other people's lives. Like a cat I wanted to perch on a stoop and watch the lives of people around me unfold and deconstruct like a Tetris game, I was the rogue bee always seen lingering just so near the frenetic hive that was other people's lives and like the ocean always returned determined to climb the shores, I was always there, restless until I could get my fill of somebody else's day to day. In retrospect some could posit that my desire to know so much of other people’s lives was due a deep dissatisfaction with my own, like the novel and the television, the people around me were my form of escapism, but I believe so innocent a description would simply not fulfil the compendium of the nature of my existence in those inchoate years, because to the onlooker an abridgement could be made that I only wanted to b a part of other people’s lives because I found mind so empty and it would pass in time. I knew exactly who I was right from the beginning, and people would be wrong in thinking I yearned to be part of other people’s lives, because I didn’t, from the realisation of my being I knew my desire was to not attach myself into someone’s life but to actualise myself in the shadows, a contiguous but never tactile entity basking in the periphery, and that in itself was my reality, I wanted nothing more.
In my mother’s house, there was happiness, I wrapped myself in it, was my chrysalis, there was a little girl, wary of the world, who took all her innate trepidation of the great unknown that was reality outside her front door and used it to build her mental fortress that allowed her to live so deeply inside her mind; I was her and she was me. The earliest years I could remember were spent intimately exploring every crevice of my quaint home, where every hair on the carpet adorning the corridor was a deep redwood forest enchanted in mystery and I would go travelling along every branch to find my adventure. The folded clothes at the bottom of my wardrobe became perilously smooth rock faces in which I had to scale to save my loved ones from some kind of impending danger, my front door became the monolithic precipice leading to an equally wondrous and fearful heaven; oh yes my mind was so active it lived alongside me not just in my head, and it enchanted everything I could see. A little girl spending far too much mind in a perfect Paracosm could be forgiven for being a little reclusive, but if I were a little bit more self aware back then and spent a little more time in the natural world I would have realised that my happiness was solely of my own creation and only found when I was alone with my own thoughts, not when I had to be someone’s daughter, I should have realised my mother had began performing her duties only in name, and even as a little girl she had already started creating distance between us. My mother’s bovarism would later on cause her to forget her treatment of me in my inchoate years and accuse me of conjecturing and calumniating my portrait of her when I accused her of being cold and loveless towards me, but I remember not being a particularly needy child, but when I did come into contact with other peers and would see how their mothers relished attention on them I would often think of the insufficient and rather meagre times I could recall my mother’s hands wrapped around me and how few if at all consoling and comforting words dripped from her chin and landed on my lap. Suffice to say by the time I was old enough to comprehend the world around me, and how our little town on the side of the mountain pushed everybody along like functioning automatons on a preset trajectory I was okay in knowing my mother’s treatment of me wasn’t going to change and I would be better off staying out of her way, never daring for an emotional connection but only coming to her for necessities, I was okay with being treated as inconsequentially as a household plant.
The years ticked by like the short hands on the clock, but as the imaginations of other children around me dwindled as the pressing force of life’s actualities seeped into their every pore and marred their colours into grey, my mind was as open as the big blue sky, the imagination that effectively raised me when I couldn’t walk refused to abandon me and let my mind become hard, but adorned me and infused me with a unique intelligibility that kept the world shimmering for me and I was able to swim through it like some majestic thalassic creature. The detachment from my mother, in a home that was only occupied with the two of us generated in me selfishness that adhered itself with my very nature; selfish in that I realised I didn’t need anybody to share my world and they didn’t need to know what I could really do when I put my mind to it. My home had showed me I didn’t need anybody so I made light work of friends at school, kept them at a distance, I was artful enough to characterise myself to them as amicable enough not the shunned, but not interesting enough for them to want to know me on a deeper level outside of the obligator school nature-so I was able to sift through the groups, visible but ultimately inconspicuous. That was just a mere taste of my talents.
My increasingly hermetic nature outside the conventional paradigms of my living in which I had no choice but to be sociable allowed the increasingly renegade preternatural entity of which my imagination, which stroked my childhood innocence, had now become. The rapacity in which it seized my soul did not have me tremble with fear, or at least not the fear which a coward holds so dear, but the type of fear so intrinsic with the instincts every living creature uses to survive, with the inevitable process akin to a mother bird pushing its fledgling out of the nest to test its flight skills, my soul was consumed and my third eye was opened. The way in which the town appeared to me to wind like clockwork with the townsfolk like cogs following a trajectory was the way in which I saw my new skills, I created my own new trajectory, unseen by others and unbound to anyone’s terms but my own; a new dimension, transgressing the parameters of ordinary living and allowing me access into the transpontine nebulous netherworlds. I learnt how to use darkness as an invisibility cloak and also as a vessel to transport me from place to place, small distances as first to familiar places, if I concentrated really hard I could step onto the shadows cast onto my kitchen floor as the sun went down and walk into it and emerge from the shadows inside my mother’s closet. The same way I could detect a person coming towards me from the sound of their footsteps when my eyes were closed, I could detect when the shadows were limpid enough for me to transgress through. Innately I knew I had to keep y gifts a secret, I knew if they were to be exposed I would lose them forever, I didn’t know how I knew that I just knew it to be a maxim applied to my life. Developing these powers was of course paramount to me, I was able to weave my natural life around everybody, I used the banal and the mundane everyday to characterise myself as just another little girl in the house with her mother, doing everything she was supposed to do in this town at the side of the mountain, enveloped in forest. Nobody cared enough to push through the ostensible and like some crude symbiosis I applied that to another facet of my powers and watched myself become powerful beyond my very recognition. It was no longer the shadows that could confine me anymore but I was now able to use the daffy nonchalance of the people around me, too enamoured in their own shabby existences. When Mr Fisher, my teacher had let the class leave for home one day, I motioned as if to leave with the crowd, but using my skills I was able to merge in the movement of the little crowd but instead of leaving the classroom, I slipped into the space next to the doorway and remained there, just in the slip of the crevice, silent and still. Looking up Mr Fisher should have been able to see my outline clearly, but through the sheer force of my will I aligned my spirit to the permanent stillness of the wood that held the doorframe, I weaved myself into the gentle fold of space between the doorframe and a cupboard and held myself there. I made no sound and no motion, and stood there in unnatural stillness, even as Mr Fisher undoubtedly sensed something not quite right about the essence in his room and stood up to come to the doorway and stood next to me, so close I could smell his ochre skin, I made no eye contact and in this I wove a spell. I realised that when people have no interesting something their brain’s decide to dismiss it, or when something becomes much more convenient to ignore, people ignore it; like the way the brain ignores a person’s nose even though the eyes can always see it, so it almost becomes invisible . Therein I became invisible by becoming uninteresting; I could become an ersatz ghost of sorts by diminishing eye contact, measuring my movements and easing them into a catatonic state, using my new perception of the shadows- my own clairvoyance-and preternatural ambulation, I was able to render human beings like reptilians, animals that depended mostly on aural and thermal stimulation, one could stand directly in front of a snake but if one were still and somehow deflected their body temperature they could render themselves invisible for all purposes in front of the snake. So by using the fissures in the shadows I used to transport I was able to develop myself to becoming an entity which people had not yet developed the senses to perceive; using the very nature of human beings I also no longer needed solely the shadows anymore , I could emerge from the darkness.
I was that thing people began seeing fluttering at the corner of their eye but would be gone when they turned to look, I fluttered by and made a few people feel like they were being watched but looked around and saw nobody and dismissed it. In town on a shopping trip with my mother one day I was able to slip through the changing rooms of the clothing store by preying on the flustered preoccupation of the attendant, mimicking the commotion around her I slipped across a precipice and the path took me to the nearby park clearing outside. I hadn’t yet decided at the time what it was that took me to where I ended up when I slipped away, I liked to believe I was thinking about going to the park and that’s why I ended up there, to think the paths and the shadows had a more cognizant, more sentient presence and chose for me the path would have been a thought too menacing to entertain at the time. In the park I found myself standing near a big tree, and in the shade, caressed by a cool breeze stood a couple, lovers obviously, for they were deep in an embrace, locked in a passionate dance under the tree with their faces pressed into each other. I approached them, my footsteps becoming the innocent fluster of leaves in the wind as I called on the spirit of the tree to become my own and cloak me, they were clearly teenagers much older than myself, and I could almost smell their feverish longing for each other. I stood behind the boy as he inserted his hands into the girl’s trousers, I moved to the side and stood ever so still lest I revealed myself, the girl gasped as the boy rummaged in her trousers, she turned her head and almost looked directly into my eyes, if I hadn’t sensed this and downcast my eyes just in time her glance may have plucked me from my hideaway in plain sight-I would have really been a little girl then. The shape of the tree blended into my own slight figure as the couple tumbled to the floor and continued their amorous wrestling, the girl tugged at the boy’s hair and the boy put a hand on her neck, for me it was time to go before my mother became suspicious; I hadn’t yet conquered time perception for I knew I was only a little girl.
The perfunctory nature my mother allotted her attention towards me would only have been obvious to people that lived with us, she wasn’t a monster to me but just as she resigned me to something she was obliged to nurture I resigned her to something that I was obliged to experience until there was a time I didn’t. The townsfolk saw her as a lovely, effusive affable woman, a single mother but one wouldn’t even know from the way she keeps herself so attractive, so youthful and so full of energy, she seemed to have eschewed completely the customary hardness that descended upon women who had to do everything themselves. My mother’s eyes were amorous and candid, not steely and resolute, her hands soft yet zestful and dextrous, like the hands of a woman who could do everything but was never forced to, she was charm herself, just the correct side of flirtatious to enchant the men but not be seen as a threat by the women. It was indeed a treat to have a single mother who didn’t feel it necessary to mention her plight every time she was spoken to, because not every happily married person had to feel guilty for having help, for having time to dote on themselves and be women and men, not just parents and carers, oh yes they loved my mother for not having to remind them of how hard life could be for the less fortunate. Looking back on it I understand I wasn’t the only one in that house with powers, my mother did things too, like maintaining a solid friendship or a decade with our neighbour Mrs Tully, even though she said harsh things about her so often with her other friends on the phone, or whenever she met with her close friends like Aunty Rose, when Mrs Tully was nowhere to be seen.
“She’s lucky she has that body Alise, I mean everything else is as plain as the winter sky on her” I heard Aunty Rose tittering to my mother in the living room as I sat in my room trying to read some books for school.
“Well she must be doing something right, she’s pregnant now she told me yesterday” My mother retorted.
“With that husband that’s always travelling for work?” Aunty Rose snorted those three words out and chuckled heartily, “gold star for her”
“Remember what I told you about when I first came here, and he came to my door and said he had been waiting for a chance to say hello for weeks, and was trying to come inside and I told him I was busy”.
I focused on a sentence in my book as hard as I could
“Well you know he kept coming back, I let him in one day and he tried to say how we could be really good friends and he put his hands on my lap, I obviously made him get the hell out and kept it cordial ever since but you know all that time he never mentioned he had a wife and I didn’t even see her until a little bit after, saw him wither in town then we started talking after over fence”
“Wait Alise wasn’t Marianne away at the time you first came here? I remember ...I think ...yeah she was away to visit her sister!”
“Yup, terrible isn’t it, he stopped really trying to talk to me outside the hi and bye after she came back, poor Lady.
I couldn’t bear anymore words, I couldn’t bear to hear anything more of those callous words, I threw myself into the embracing shadows and willed them to take me where they pleased. That’s when I ended up in the locker rooms in the gym in town, sparsely populated I could see and no place for a young girl. The dark corners near the back sheltered me as I saw a man pick up a sweat soaked piece of underwear that had fallen out of another man’s gym bag as he walked to the showers. I saw him snatch it like a Gollum snatching a morsel of food before retreating back into its cave, I saw the man furtively glance around to ensure he had no audience before smearing the underwear all over his face, his knees quivered in what was clear ecstasy and he took the other man’s underwear with him as he quickly made an exit. I was then called back into the shadows to emerge at the home of what I recognised to be a girl from school; Allaura. I stood on her landing and the house itself told me she was studying downstairs in the dining room, I found myself in the bathroom looking on as her older brother urinated in the bath, I became as stoic as the door itself and watched him purposefully smear his urine across as much as the bath as he could. He paused for a few moments, staring into the bath and the urine, seemingly transfixed as to the mechanism of his own body. I saw him reach for a towel I instinctively knew wasn’t his and as I slipped back into the shadows saw him wipe the bath with the lovely cyan towel fit perfectly for another little girl much like me. I emerged under a table in a room a little too hot, cheaply painted in violet I could see with a solitary rose in a glass by the window. I remained still as I let my ears do the seeing for me, I could hear panting and rifling in the vicinity, the room smelt of alcohol and the cloying sour scent of human sweat. I shifted silently and looked up to the bed to see Mr Tully from next door pressed against the nubile body of a woman that was not his wife.