My name is Isaiah Lewis, and I was 17 when I first turned invisible. I'm sure a lot of 17 year olds feel like they're invisible, either to girls, or guys, or both. (It's a confusing age.) However, I mean actually invisible, as in unable to be observed, translucent man, photons need not apply; I was possibly the first brother in history who could walk out of a Klan meeting with a piece of pie.
Don't ask me how I can still see without anything bouncing off my retinas. I didn't have a PhD in Optics back then, and I haven't earned one since. I have learned enough to know that what I can do is impossible according to how we currently understand light. Not vision, mind you, light; I don’t show up in pictures or on video either. It's the whole deal.
It changed things for me, like you might imagine - changed my whole world in the blink of an invisible eye. When you suddenly find out you no longer have the one thing that keeps most people from taking whatever it is they want, it opens a lot of options beyond "college" or "trade school".
I finished high school, though. I don’t think most kids would have, in my position; nine out of ten would have walked out the double doors the second they knew no one could catch them. The others would stay, either because they loved academics or were too scared to do something different.
Me? I was a little bit of both before. I was smart, but didn't have a direction. I think I was going to major in college and minor in studying. My parents wanted me to go, I didn't not want to go, so it was decided. We did campus visits, and got glossy packets in the mail. I looked forward to making some white, Latino, and Asian friends and sitting under a tree. The future was charted for me, like the Triple A map my dad kept under the passenger seat of his car.
Life always throws us curveballs right when we think we've got it figured out. I learned that for the first time back then, and it seems like I'm still learning it today. You'd think nothing could sneak up on the Invisible Man, but you'd be as wrong as I was. The world is a stranger place than anyone gives it credit for.
One afternoon, I was walking home from the bus stop. Same as it ever was, I was hungry and not looking forward to my homework. I tripped, catching myself on my palms. I looked down at what I tripped over and saw this weird rock. It was speckled blue, like a bird’s egg. It would have been pretty if it wasn’t the reason my hands were stinging.
I picked it up while looking around, trying to make sure the school bus was already down the street. When I was sure no one saw me bust it, I felt myself getting pissed at the rock. It was stupid, but that's what I did. I wound my arm back and threw the thing like a baseball at the stop sign a few houses down. I grabbed my backpack from the pavement and started to walk away.
Whack! I stumbled forward. The back of my head burned, and I rubbed it to feel if there was a knot. The rock was sitting at my feet. "Who the hell threw that?" I shouted, spinning around. Nothing. I didn't hear any laughing, or anyone running away.
Someone was playing games with me. I looked around to see who. “Must be some kids,” I thought. I reached down and grabbed the rock, and that's when it happened.
I couldn't see my arm in front of me, or even my shirt. I brought my other arm up, nothing. I looked at my legs, but they weren't there. No backpack either.
I started running. Was I trying to outrun being invisible? I didn't know. That sounds stupid, but I think maybe, yeah. I ran to the end of my street full tilt. There was this old oak tree there I used to climb when I was a kid, so without thinking about it I grabbed a low branch and hoisted myself up. I kept climbing until I was at my spot, near the top. From up there I could see the whole neighborhood.
I raised my arm so it should have been in front of my face. It's like if you close your eyes, you know where your hand should be, even if you can't see it. Instead, all I could see was the blue sky. I wiggled my fingers, flapping them in my face. I felt the breeze, and that made me feel a little better.
In our psychology class, we had learned about something like this. There were guys who had fought in Iraq that had these mental disabilities now, stuff related to combat. They weren't physically hurt, but they couldn't walk, or use their arms. Even weirder, some of them couldn't recognize faces. I couldn't remember the name for that. It was something that sounded like porpoises.
"Alright," I told myself, "it was that rock to the back of my head. I just gotta tell mom, and she'll take me to the hospital. I'll get an MRI or a CT scan or something. After the doctors get me straight, I'll bust the punk ass that hit me with that rock. It'll be okay." My heart wasn't pounding anymore. I remembered that's why I used to climb that tree; it always gave me perspective.
Looking back, I laugh at myself sitting in that old tree. All the same, I didn't have it entirely wrong.
I climbed down and walked home, ignoring the feeling like I was floating. For some reason I was paranoid, like someone was going to catch me being invisible. I laughed at that, but the sound of my laughter was scary. It reminded me too much of movies where the guy had fought too many monsters and thought walking off a ledge was a good way out.
We usually used the front door, but I went in through the back. It felt safer. I pulled out my key and let myself in. "Hey mom, I need you," I called, trying to keep my voice calm. Moms have instincts for things like this. She came running. "Baby are you okay?" she asked, running into the hallway. "Not...not really," I said. You have to break things easy to your parents. "There was this-"
"Where are you at?" she asked me. "Stop playing games." She was looking around the hallway, and there wasn't a whole lot of hallway to look around. Her eyes were darting around, her hands on her hips.
"Mom, I'm right here," I said, waving arms I couldn't see in front of my face.
Her eyes passed right over me, and I got a chill up my see through arms. If I couldn't see me, and she couldn't see me...
This didn't have anything to do with that porpoise thing; shit was about to get real.