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It was on the morning of her forty-sixth birthday that Poppy realised she had become invisible. The day had started normally enough, ten minutes of sun salutations before a light breakfast of muesli and yogurt. But the first indication that something was wrong was when she walked the half mile to the train station. Normally, as she carried her heavy holdall to the studio, people would catch her eye and smile, and invariably someone would offer to carry it for her. After all, the world was filled with lovely, friendly people who were always ready to strike up a cheerful conversation or lend a helping hand. Yet on that morning, no-one’s gaze lingered on her, no-one even looked at her, and certainly no-one offered her help as people pushed past her as if unaware of her existence.

When she finally got to the studio, she felt indescribably alone and even found herself in the bathroom, staring in the mirror to determine whether she was still there. For all of her life, she had been used to people watching her as she walked down the road, smiling at her or winking and wishing her a good morning. Yet that morning everyone had simply streamed past, eyes either downcast or blankly staring straight as if she were not there. It was as if the world had become a dark and grim place rather than the loving, helpful place she had become so used to and she was nothing more than an invisible wraith that passed through it, unseen and unwanted.

And as she thought back on all the acts of charity and kindness and friendliness she had ever experienced, she started to cry as she gazed into the mirror with eyes that were seeing the world as it was, for the very first time.

Flash Fiction by James Burr

Published in Autumn 2017


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