Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | April 13, 2008

Vanished

Pack Monadnock, New Hampshire. December 28, 2006.

Yes, this is a picture of my brother, Chad.  The story isn’t about him at all, though!  So don’t worry… I just couldn’t bear to give him a name totally different from his own.

You had to ruin it, didn’t you?  I had it all worked out.  The whole plan, flawless.  I could already hear the helicopters whirring overhead.  They were black and almost silent, brand new. Slipping through the winter clouds like crickets in a snowbank.  Out of place.  They looked and looked but they couldn’t find me. I vanished.

Then you show up.  Stand there and tap the bench with your chewed up nails, tell me to wake up.  “Wake up, Charlie.”

But I’m gone!  I vanished!  I shout inside.  But you keep tapping.  Your finger bounces from the varnished wood to my nose.  “Look alive!”

I appear.  I can’t help it.  How can you stay vanished when someone pokes you in the nose?

“Go away.”  I pull my sweatshirt hood down over one eye.  Failure.  I didn’t even managed to close my eyes for one minute before I was found.

“How can you sleep on top of a picnic table in the middle of the winter?”  You fold your stubby nails into your armpits, and your breath blurs the view of snow-covered pines reaching out for miles behind you.

“I wasn’t sleeping.”  My eyes had been closed, but that was only to help with vanishing.  It’s a trick I read about.  Concentrate hard enough, and no one will see you.  I couldn’t even see my own hands when I got really good.  Honest, it works.  Except you looked too early.  You ruined it.  I was one second away from total nothingness.

“Well, whatever you were doing, I just wanted to let you know I’m leaving in five minutes.  With or without you.  Whatever.”  You stomp away, taking your breath-cloud with you.

“I was hiding.”  I call out, thinking, so what if you found me this time?  I can vanish again.

“OK…” you say it all drawn out.  The “oh” goes on for a full thirty seconds before you get to “k.”  I didn’t have to count the seconds to know when you’d get there.  You say it the exact same way every time you don’t want to listen to me.

I pull my hood down over my other eye.  Concentrate!  This time, I’ll get it right.  You’ll get halfway home, realize I’m not following like I always do, and you’ll come back to look for me.  Only I’ll be vanished.

You’ll call the police first, but since it’s the woods and I could be anywhere, they’ll call the helicopters.  I’ll stay vanished until all but one circling cricket machine gives up.  Then I’ll stumble back visible again.  Will you poke my nose this time?

This scene was inspired by a session at the NESCBWI conference.  I wanted to try second person POV, and this was a great picture for that exercise.

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Responses

  1. I love the 2nd person. It really works for this picture/story and lends a whole different dimension to it than if it were simply 1st or 3rd.


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