Vaporous, diaphanous, insubstantial — I linger outside the door to my darkened room. Light spills from across the hall where she hurries over breakfast, head bent to read the paper spread over kitchen table.
“Not now,” she says — quick swallow from white mug. “No time,” she says — quick bite of toast. Never raising her head, her eyes, to look.
She. The only one who does not see through me.
Turn away. Down the hall. Toward the stairs. No need to walk — I drift, I float, I whisper over carpeted steps. For each slow-measured stride, two steps fall away beneath me untrod, untouched; sometimes three. The material world moves at a different rate than I, aware it has much to accomplish in uncertain time.
Out the front door, into the evening. Glide over sidewalks. Drift through this quaint neighborhood of hedges and dooryard gardens, warmly lit by star- and lamplight. Ahead, the restaurant beckons, draws me, solitary moth to all those human flames. Lovely old building, reclining in exposed, worn bricks, scrubbed of white-wash. Paired banks of leaded-glass windows fill its street-side wall, each set crowned with half-arch of bevelled and bisected panes. Prismatic light splashed over smooth polished floors; orbits of wrought-iron chandeliers flicker above. Throng of people — life, warmth, laughter. Suits and cocktail dresses, glittering adornments. Flutes of champagne. All sparkles.
Here, yet not. Move through the crowd unimpeded, unobstructed. They do not walk through me, but each knot of people, each individual approached steps lightly aside, allows room to pass. A bubble of anti-gravitational force surrounds, nudges the human tide aside. Ghostly Moses, I part my way through the sea of revelers, reach the room’s far side, pause at French doors flung open to receive night’s air. Slow glance over one shoulder, linger upon a foursome. Two sleek-haired, pretty young women clad in silver and gold, man in sharp blue suit — each steps lightly aside. Fourth member of their group remains rooted, stares in my direction. More casually dressed, in plaid shirt and jeans, he wears sandy-brown hair vaguely uncombed, beard and mustache more neatly attended. Does he look through me? Beyond me? I drift closer, my hand streaming back and forth before his face in curiosity, in challenge. He flinches with surprise, returns my wave. Smiling, he says hello.
So slow before — now, I move as the wind. Flee out the doors, across the street. Pass through traffic, cars swallowing my misted form in an amalgam of steel, leather, vinyl. Pass through the grass-sloped berm, through its darkened reservoir of dammed water. Though he pursues, calling, he cannot keep up, cannot catch me; he must contend with the solid fact of those obstacles through which I easily slide…
Days later, perhaps weeks — what concern have I for fluid time? Drawn again to wander among others. Move through this office space, slip down wide corridors that open onto great, sprawling areas filled with desks, lined with cubicles. Glass-walled conference room filled with people standing, gesturing, discussing. Lured nearer, drift closer. Invisible, disembodied. But…he is here…sees…approaches.
“Why did you run?”
Absurd question! How could I not have? The shock. To be so startled. After so much time, having grown accustomed to anonymity. To be seen…when all else (but her) see… through. Arm thrown in slow-moving, mist-limbed gesture, to encompass all those here, now — she, he, they — oblivious to my presence.
“But I see you…”
Impossible! How? He has no answer, does not know. And I am afraid. Afraid to trust, afraid that this moment will fade, his unique ability will pass. Afraid this new and unexpected fact will not see me through…