Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Mask of Invisibility - #Fridayflash

It was an easy question, really. Should she stay in the car or get out and go inside? More questions raced through her head. What kind of mood was he in? Would he be mad at her for being gone so long? Had he eaten or waited for her?

Being away from the house for the day was a pleasant experience. Wandering around stores, talking to salespeople trying to sell her things she didn’t need. She overheard a store manager telling a new employee to "treat each customer as if she were a guest in your home. Put on a smile and welcome her. Offer to help and then show her the new products as if she were a friend stopping in for coffee and you were excited about some new acquisition that brightened your living room." It was an import store specializing in home d├ęcor. Even though the manager was male, he referred to the customers—guests as female.

In the bookstore everybody knew her and called her by name. They were the only ones who knew that she was the woman whose picture was on the back cover of a book crammed in between so many other mysteries. Customers just saw an aging woman wearing shorts that should be longer, a tee shirt with a graphic on the back worn so thin from washing that it was impossible to recognize and those wraparound black sunglasses. She always wore those sunglasses, even in the store, like a mask.

Tonight she would be attending a play at the local theater with a friend. Although they were only one year apart in age, her friend would be wearing a long skirt, a ruffled blouse and makeup. She would change her shorts and tee shirt and put on clean ones. Nobody would guess that she was reviewing the play for a magazine.

The writer’s life is an odd one, very different from a musician’s. People don’t recognize writers by their faces, even when they are successful, unless they look like Kurt Vonnegut or Truman Capote. Being anonymous was almost as good as being invisible. It gave her the opportunity to observe people. But when she introduced herself to strangers she often detected a change in demeanor; passed her business card and suddenly she had an identity.

Her decision made, she opened the car door. Rather than go in through the garage alerting him with the sound of the mechanical roll up door, she walked up to the front door, key in hand and inserted it into the slot. She pushed the door open and it was quiet. She called his name. And then he came to her, sniffing her legs to see if she had cheated on him. Of course, she had not. She knew better than to pet any other dog; it would hurt his feelings when she got home.


Eric J. Krause said...

Good one! I'm lucky my dog doesn't seem to get jealous when I come home smelling like another dog. He's too happy that I'm just plain home (which is nice). Also loved the talk about how a writer is anonymous. So very true. Overall, good story!

Susan Cross said...

Thanks Eric and don't ever hesitate to critique my work. I need all the help I can get.

Rebecca Emin said...

Aww I love the ending, and the welcome home by the dog. That brought back memories of childhood pets.

Marisa Birns said...

A very good introductory paragraph that left me wondering what kind of "man" was home waiting for your main character.

A writer's life is indeed odd. And that's one of the best things about it!

I have a Jack Russell Terrier, and she always knows when I've petted another. :)

Is your site very new? Love it.

Susan Cross said...

I started out the first sentence and the paragraph wrote itself but I didn't want to go in a dark direction, thus the ending. It was as much a surprise ending to me as to readers.

Marisa, It's the old Blogger Blogspot but I took advantage of some of their upgrades. They're obviously trying to compete with the market so they've added a lot of new features. It was easier than I thought. I haven't figured out how to add tabs for my fiction or other things but maybe eventually.

John Wiswell said...

A lot can go through your mind for as little an action as opening a door.

I'm glad you didn't take it in the dark direction. It doesn't seem as fitting as the ending you used.

Jim Bronyaur said...

I agree with John... I liked the way it was built up and ended.

Being the dark minded person myself, I was expecting something different and I was glad to see such a sweet, innocent ending. Almost reminds you of how important the little things in life are! :)


Susan Cross said...

You know I usually tend toward the dark side but I'm trying to add a little humor and brighten things up a little. I want to mix it up to keep people guessing.

pegjet said...

What I liked best about this story is your character is happy with who she is and comfortable as a somewhat-loner; so many believe you need to be noticed to be happy. She has the unconditional love of a being--maybe not human--but enough.

Uplifting in a curious way.

Bukowski's Basement said...

As always, Susan ... I loved the flow in this piece. So utterly readable.