Fading

…constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate. (P. 4) – Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Silence. The deafening noise consumed her ears, filling her mind. She shook her head. Once. Twice. Could nobody else hear it?
She spent her last months wondering, just wondering why. Had she done something? Who had she offended? Small towns like this were known for friendliness, for community. She had lived there her whole life, born in the one-room hospital on the main road, and leaving on the bridge over the dark lake. Her daddy raised her expecting nothing more than for her pure happiness, pushing her to be with friends and to follow her heart. Her daddy was respected in the town, as the only firefighter he saved countless lives from the forest fires that ripped through people’s lives. She was beloved, a little princess, never lonely, never unhappy.
She woke up to the bird’s call like any other morning in her world. Slipping on her robe she walks downstairs and puts some eggs in the pan for breakfast.
“Good morning daddy” She says in her slight southern drawl. Hearing no response she says again “GOOD MORNING DADDY.” He slowly looks up “oh…I didn’t see you there. How’d y’all sleep?” The morning continues with his slow responses, she wonders if he may be ill.
She taught second grade in the schoolhouse down the road. Like everyone else, the children adored her. That week, her students were rowdy and refused to listen, acting like they didn’t hear her when she gave instructions or told stories. She went to sleep every night convinced that the world around her was deteriorating, maybe it was the full moon but craziness was erupting in every corner. The townspeople continued to become more deaf and more blind, they never seemed to hear or notice her when she walked through or sat down in the town restaurant. The next week, she walked into her classroom at 9 am as usual to teach her class. She found another teacher setting up on her desk, moving her piles of construction paper and reorganizing her pictures of friends and family.
“Excuse me…ma’am…you must be mistaken, this is my classroom…” The strange women didn’t regard her…she repeated herself four more times before turning and leaving to speak to the principal. He chose to rudely ignore her also, and filled with rage she stormed out and stepped back into her classroom. She stood directly in front of her students, none of them looked at her, she spoke, none of them heard. Confused and irritated by everyone’s rudeness, she walked through the park to get home. She wondered why the town would play such a rude joke on her, so ignorant she was that she never thought the joke could be her own, growing inside of her.
Nobody spoke to her on her way home. She stood and screamed, letting loose years of loudness and impoliteness that she never allowed herself to fall in to. “Daddy…DADDY!! You won’t believe what has happened!” She slowly came to a stop as she noticed he didn’t turn his face up from his hunting magazine. “You too? Oh no not you too.” She turned on her perfect heels and went upstairs to her bedroom. She called her friends and received the same response every time the phone rang. “Hello? Hello? Is anybody there? Hello..? Click.”
For the first time in her life she knew what loneliness was. She stayed in her room for days and eventually came out on Sunday, church day. Nobody would ignore me on a Sunday she thought. As she walked into the church in her finest spring dress, she didn’t receive any of her usual greetings. No “why hello dear!” No “why don’t you look pretty.” She ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror expecting to see her tear-stained eyes, mascara running down her flushed cheeks. Instead, she saw nothing. She moved to the next mirror, still, nothing. She ran home through crowds of people who didn’t notice her rudeness. She passed every mirror in the house, seeing nothing. Filled with undeniable bitterness she ran to the high bridge over the river. Standing on the ledge, she looked down into the rapids and took her final leap, an invisible jump towards being sane again.



Nobody noticed.





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