Emma Hayes noticed something on the way to the Bank. She noticed that nobody noticed her. As she stepped along the sidewalk in the busy downtown street, crowded with countless busy people, not one of them met her eyes or as much as stepped out of her path. She had been subconsciously dodging the oncoming pedestrians—it was only polite to step out of the way, of course—but none of them gave her an inch of space in return. As an experiment, she stared intently at the man thirty paces in front of her. He strode toward her in her exact footpath, and though she stretched her neck forward and swung her arms—elbows locked and fists clenched—and furrowed her brow and widened her eyes intently, the suited businessman simply looked past her—over her shoulder, perhaps at some wonder or marvel she could not see—and made no indication of an intent to step left or step right.
He was six paces away now—though his oncoming speed and trajectory meant that Emma would collide with him in but three steps. One step, and he still didn’t move, didn’t so much as meet her eyes; two steps and she was all but looking up the man’s nose to see his eyes (which still faced forward); on the third step, Emma quit her game of chicken and twisted her body to a side face just to be able to step out of the way in time to avoid being trampled.
“Excuse me!” she called after the man. She had intended to sound angry, but her tone came out as a genuine apology. Regardless, the man did not turn or in any way acknowledge her presence or voice. She considered saying something more when she saw a boy on a yellow bicycle hop onto the sidewalk and begin peddling at full speed in her direction.
The crowd at her right was too dense to step into, so she jumped to the left, nearly tripping on the curb as she did so. The bicyclist sped past her, his wheels zipping stickily against the cement, without ringing his bell once.
She leapt back onto the sidewalk, shaken and angry and afraid. She looked both ways for oncoming bikes or joggers or anything else that could knock her senseless. No one seemed to be avoiding her, and they refused to look at her. She kept to the inside edge of the sidewalk, always on the lookout for speeding pedestrians.
By the time Emma reached the Bank she had narrowly avoided two more bicycles, a shopping cart, and a car that climbed up onto the curb before parking next to it. If this really was a prank, she thought, it was a dangerous one. All she had to do was not step out of the way and she would be roadkill by now. That would teach them.
She had to leap into the Bank’s revolving door because no one would slow enough to give her room to enter. The door thumped her back and she had to do two loops before she felt brave enough to jump out. When she finally did so, the corner of her coat got stuck and halted the revolution.
“Stop pushing!” she cried to the group of people who shoved roughly at the doors to dislodge whatever unseen jam denied them entry. They paid no heed to Emma’s shouting, but eventually thought to try pulling a little for lack of other options. She tugged her coat free immediately and huffed disgruntled remarks at the pushers who entered the building and rushed by her. None of them even looked at her.
Day 318’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Revolution,” “Stuck in traffic,” and, “Invisible.”
I’ve always wanted to be invisible, but I worry about having to watch for traffic. Not just cars, but bikes or joggers. It would be awfully dangerous going out.