CW: character death

The first time she turned invisible, she was twelve. It lasted half an hour, just long enough for her mother to fret when she didn’t show up for lunch on time.

She spent the first ten minutes in shock, the second ten screaming with a voice no one could hear. She spent the last ten minutes sitting in her mother’s kitchen, silently staring at the cracks in the linoleum.

“You’re late,” her mother informed her when she finally appeared.

She wanted to say no, she’d just been invisible. “I’m sorry.”

“Well,” her mother said, arranging triangles of cucumber sandwich on fine bone china, “see that it doesn’t happen again.”

The second time was less surprising, less frightening, and just generally less. She was fourteen, and she couldn’t say honestly that this time hadn’t been on purpose. But she couldn’t say it was entirely satisfying, either. It’s not very useful only being invisible for ten minutes.

After that, it was simply a matter of practice. By the end of her first year of high school, she’d turned invisible no fewer than thirty times. She never told her mother.

She left home the day she turned eighteen, and got a job as a magician’s assistant. She never told him of her ability, but he paid her well. He pinched her cheek and called her his good luck charm.

Four months later, Mongo the Magnificent was found alone in his trailer with his pants around his ankles and his satin-lined cape pulled tight around his throat. The official cause of death was listed as autoerotic asphyxiation.

After that, it was the Astonishing Alvin and Pavel the Paragon of Prestidigitation and even a brief solo stint in Las Vegas, just off the Strip. She never called home.

She lives just outside of Houston now, twenty-six years old and mundane as can be, working mornings as a checkout clerk at the local Kroger’s. But sometimes, late at night when her dreams turn dark and she wakes in a shaking sweat, she flips on the light and walks on bare feet to the tiny, yellow-tiled bathroom. She lays one palm flat against the cold of the mirror, and watches herself fade away into nothing.

Then, she can sleep in peace.