Overdue post – Sudden Fiction entry

A while back, I wrote about a sudden fiction story I wrote that was well received by A Room of Her Own Foundation.

Well, here it is.

I like this format.


Manifesting the Invisible

As she sat at her desk, surrounded by blue pushpin fabric and tiny windows whose only view was of interior walls, munching on pink M&Ms intended for Valentine’s Day, Vivian wondered how she’d let it happen again. She thought she’d been extremely careful in her choices over the last few years, made those major life changes all of the self-help gurus prattle on about and yet, here she sat convincing herself that not one thing had changed in her life and she was destined to fade away like an old water stain eventually does on decent leather – slowly, but surely.

Then something unexpected happened. As Vivian reached out have a sip of her soda, it was as if her hand – ever so briefly – disappeared. She almost didn’t see it as she was concentrating on her computer monitor with the usual blinding monotony that kept her seated there nearly forty hours every week. But, as she glanced down to make sure she actually grasped it instead of knock it over like she had been known to do – her hand was as clear the plastic bottle containing her afternoon caffeine fix. She made a tiny, yet audible yelp which in turn made her co-worker in the neighboring cube react.

“What was that?”

“Um,” stuttered Vivian. “Nothing. Almost spilled my coke is all.”

“Not again?”

“It’s okay,” Vivian replied quickly. “False alarm.”

“Humph,” the neighbor responded minus concern.

Vivian settled her hand onto her mouse as if clinging to the crossbar of a speeding rollercoaster. She had always been eccentric with a bit of the fanciful, but she had never, ever physically hallucinated before. IF that’s what this was –a hallucination. As she maintained her much too expected composure and clenched her every muscle into paralyzing submission, she allowed her eyes to slowly drift over toward the clock. It was time to go home.

“Thank goodness,” she thought. “It’s been a long day, probably nothing.” She hadn’t had a break as the office was short-staffed and she’d had to cover the phones most of the day. Vivian finished what she was working on, cleared off her desk and grabbed her purse. She stepped out of her cube to say goodnight but there was no one left. She quietly left by the back stairwell. As she walked to her car, she checked her hands every few steps to make sure they were still there. They were.

As Vivian approached her beat up old car, the thought again crossed her mind that nothing had changed for her. She originally loved her red station wagon with the turbo engine, but it had fallen into disrepair. She kept meaning to get that dent fixed, but never got around to it and now the dents had begun reproducing like rabbits. She climbed in, tuned into her favorite talk-radio station and began her short drive home in her typical mental brown-out.

Vivian liked to listen to sports talk-radio even though she didn’t really follow most sports. She liked the banter between the hosts and occasionally would talk back to them as if she were part of the show. The argument tonight was one she was becoming extremely tired of – steroid use by extremely well paid baseball players.

“What do you mean – no one cares?! What about the fans?!” Vivian yelled at no one in particular in response to the side of the debate which claimed that if everyone was using, the playing field was then level. She reached down to turn the volume up and it happened again.

Her hand was gone. And this time it wasn’t brief or for just a flash of a second. It was gone.

She could still feel it, feel her fingers but she could not see them. She clutched the steering wheel and immediately saw that her other hand was gone, too.

“Aagh!” Vivian screamed and hurriedly pulled off to the side of the road. As other cars passed, she could see drivers yelling and even flipping her off. She didn’t care. Couldn’t they see she was in distress? She sat there trying to comprehend the fact that although she could sense them, she could not see her hands at all. “What the hell is happening to me?!”

She stretched her fingers, balled her fists and even clapped – there was joint crackling, nails digging into her palms, and slapping sounds. But no hands.

Vivian had no idea how long she sat there on the roadside staring at the empty space that was expanding on the end of her arms. A car honked loudly enough to get through her haze and she instinctively found her winter gloves tucked into the side door pocket and put them on. She waived off the honker who was long gone and decided it was best to get home. She sped off down the road so fast, her car squealed but left no tire marks.

It was dark by the time she arrived. The porch light was not on, so she had to fumble with the lock and key mumbling to herself how it drove her nuts that no one ever remembered to leave the light on for her. She could hear the kids arguing in their rooms with their Dad about taking a shower or finishing up homework and headed straight to her room.

While in the bathroom preparing to take off her gloves, praying her hands had magically reappeared, her husband knocked on the door.

“Hey, babe, you in there?” he asked. Then, without waiting for a reply, he said “Going for a bike ride. See ya.” Vivian soon heard the back door swing shut.

She chose to leave the gloves on, she was cold anyway. She put on her nightshirt and climbed into bed without saying a word to anyone. Tears of confusion dampened her pillow, as she fell into a deep slumber.

Not even the dog asleep at her feet noticed as the lump under the covers slowly, but surely faded away.


Kathleen Vaught
© February 11, 2009
All Rights Reserved.