“Imagine this: a family huddling together by the fireplace for a photograph, the proud parents and their smiling offspring, holding their glasses of wine up high. They’re all as happy as they can be, ten men and women who always had everything they wanted, and will accept nothing to the contrary. I’m not in the frame. I’ve never been there. If you think I’m the one holding the camera so everyone else can have their moment of glory, think again. I’m either sitting in the bathroom or smoking a cigarette outside. When I return to their midst, they ignore me like they did the rest of the night. It’s always been like this. This will never change.”
The company wasn’t to blame, for he was in the presence of quite an attractive woman. Two years older, Dr. Vanessa Madsen, a buxom brunette with a penchant for masculine, striped suits, was the only daughter in a group of five. While she was familiar with the problems that often come with large families, not once did she feel left out or invisible to the rest of the world, unlike her latest patient.
“I just told you that, Dr. It’s been this way since forever.” Paul grumbled, one eye on the clock above her head and the other on the pack of cigarettes in the inner pocket of his coat.
“They don’t acknowledge me at all, period. Being around them is the same thing as not being anywhere. They never wanted me. Even if I had gone to Medical School, they would still not want me.”
“They don’t have to. I was the last, okay? The ninth child no one was expecting. I was the untimely accident that almost killed our mother trying to find my way into this world. She never forgave me for that, and neither did everyone else. I’ve felt like a pariah since day one.”
“Are you feeling like one now?”
“Please, tell me everything.”
“No, it’s not, and believe me I understand how...”
“Paul, please return to your seat. We’re not done yet.”
“NO!” The good doctor slammed her perfectly manicured hands on the table, a tuft of hair falling over her eyes as if she were a lioness on the hunt. “No problem has ever been solved by running away from it like a coward. We still have forty minutes left. You’re not getting out of here until they’ve run their course. Is that clear?”
“I don’t think you’re supposed to say that...”
“Do you have a suggestion?” He hid both hands in his pockets and avoided looking at her deep and intimidating gaze.
“What’s that?” He approached her desk to take a closer look, head slightly tilted to the right.
She pressed the switch and laid the lamp atop the closest edge of the table, producing a series of rotating concentric circles of light that bathed the walls and her green eyes with a mesmerizing aura.
“Altered states of mind are as real as you and I talking and, in a day, the average human being goes through them more times than he can number. When you were sitting down a few moments ago pouring your heart out to me, you were almost in a light trance and you can go there again as easily as you wish if you just stop to take a breather, relax, and look at the colorful spectacle before your eyes.”
“How many colors can you see, Paul? I’ve had clients say three, others say five or six, and even some that see nothing at all. People’s responses to having their brain shut down for a bit are always different, yet share one thing in common: a sense of bliss like no other, a wave of peace spreading across their arms and legs, dripping and drifting and sinking down, down, down... They’ll be asleep before they know what hit them. They’ll be asleep before the next sentence. I think your mind is already asleep now. Sleep, Paul. Sleep so that I can talk to the real you.”
“Paul, listen to me. Your public self is now dormant, only your innermost thoughts are awake. I know you think everyone you care about thinks of you as something less or doesn’t think of you at all. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you do it not out of vanity but because of a primeval need to be seen without being taken for granted. This longing for recognition motivates you, yet also drives you insane. In your mind’s eye, you’re invisible and no one would shed a tear if you were suddenly plucked away from this earth. They would have to remember you in order to cry, and they don’t. This is what you truly believe in, and I’m here to tell you that those beliefs...
“Try as you may, you’ll never be as good as your brothers and sisters, your parents will never see in you anything other than a burden. It can’t be helped. When inferior creatures cannot realize their place on their own, they need to be cast aside and broken. Loneliness and helplessness are integral to their character. How else would they would become the perfect servants? While sometimes the definition of truth varies, this is something that’s immutable. You’re weak and you’re powerless to do anything about it and though a part of you thinks that rebelling against the status quo is the ideal choice, the one that will finally grant you some form of solace, that’s an illusion as elaborate as the concept of self-esteem. None of that is for you, Paul. You don’t even deserve to have a name. You should only see yourself as chattel, moving property, as valuable as a piece of furniture, and as disposable as well. That’s you. That’s what you should see in the mirror. That’s what you should think about when you look at someone better than you... someone like me.
“Drop even further now. Drown in the pool of hypnotic light until your lungs collapse. Only when it totally consumes you, will you be reborn. Sleep. Mindless. Sleep. Hopeless. Sleep. Invisible. Sleep. Slave.”
Dr. Madsen turned off the hypnotic lights and admired her new piece of man meat for a few moments, two fingers inside her wet snatch. Putting losers in their proper place got her off, and the rush was even more intense as the hour of the next appointment drew closer. In just a few minutes, another faculty member with a silly complex would come to her, hoping for some friendly conversation to make him or her feel better, and then leave the office an hour later, drooling from inside out in an unaware mental prison. No matter what ailed them, they were all fodder for her perversions, footnotes written and rewritten at will. She had stopped counting after the first ten subjects. Paul was probably number twenty-four or twenty-five. He was also the most exciting one in a long time.
For the first time since forever, nothing troubled him for he deserved nothing at all. The invisible man exited the school grounds and walked home under a blanket of rain, wishing Monday came soon again.