by Sandra Crook
Becoming invisible, Louise noted, had been a very gradual process. Furthermore, just when you thought you the metamorphosis was complete, you found it was possible to become even more invisible.
She hadn’t immediately noticed the start of the transformation, and perhaps several months had passed before she became aware of the odd silence, whilst tapping her way between the building sites bordering the route between the tube station and her office.
“Cause and effect,” she thought, and invested in some higher heels, shorter skirts and a different hairstyle. This alleviated the situation briefly, but then gradually the wolf whistles and cries diminished, and silence reigned once more.
By the time she was forty, the silent building sites were the least of her problems.
Her career, which she liked to view as having been navigated skilfully across stormy uncharted seas, aided by a crisp wind of admiration, a rip-tide of easily-aroused male libido and a generous current of capability, suddenly entered quieter waters.
Rocking gently at anchor, she watched younger colleagues, venturing out onto the high seas, catching and cresting the big waves. At this point she decided to dispense with the nautical metaphor for her life before she was holed below the water line.
Now, she decided, might be a very good time to become ‘the voice of experience,’ and she managed to carve a comfortable enough niche for herself slightly lower down the hierarchy. If her ‘transfer’ did rankle somewhat, at least it left her marginally outside of the line of fire. There had to be some compensation for sideways promotions, she thought, observing as her younger colleagues fought disgracefully with each other to become ‘top dog’.
Eventually her invisibility permeated her married life.
“Should I wear this?” she said to her husband one evening. “Or would I look better in the green dress I had on the other night?”
“I think the green dress was better,” was the response from behind the newspaper, “but you look fine in that, too.”
Louise looked down at her naked body. It would serve him right if she turned up at the Wilson’s like this. At least she would get noticed.
Or, she reflected thoughtfully, perhaps she wouldn’t.
Before too long, she noticed that her profile at the family gatherings had become slightly blurred too. When issues were debated she put in her point of view as she always had done, but pretty soon found out that people nodded politely, and the topic of discussion would change.
Ever resourceful, she evaluated her position. There had to be some advantage to being invisible. And after a while she found one.
When she was brought home by the uniformed police officers, her family were aghast. The blame was squarely laid at the menopausal door and before too long strings were pulled, agreements entered into and charges were dropped as she pleaded a first offence.
After a few weeks of cautious observation, the family decided that the transgression had been a ‘one-off’ and consigned Louise to the background once again.
Until Christmas morning, as her family gazed in horror at the ever increasing mound of Gucci sunglasses, Hermes scarves, Louboutin shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags, gradually emerging from exquisite wrapping paper as they opened their presents.
“My ship came in,” she reassured them contentedly.
Louise suspected that from now on she may enjoy a significantly higher profile than at any other time in her life.
She had found her vocation.
Sandra Crook lives to write these days, and is just grateful it isn’t the other way round.