Nearly never noticed, Nathan would have been known as Nearly Never Noticed Nathan, but no one knew his name. He was most often referred to as “Excuse me, guy” or nothing at all. Quite honestly, he preferred nothing at all, because he could then pretend he was in a fight with whomever was ignoring him.
He had absolutely no friends, you see, and so he was forced to pretend at an early age and he pretended all the time. He loved pretending, though he was not very good at it. Alone on the playground, he would imagine himself as slightly taller, or maybe he would be someone with their hair parted to the other side. Sometimes, he would pretend that his name was spelled differently, but he could not keep that up for long.
The day of Nathan’s fifteenth birthday was like all the other days. He woke up, was briefly acknowledged by his parents, and walked to school. There was a light drizzle, but Nathan didn’t mind because he could just pretend there was a normal drizzle, which he preferred over light drizzles.
A truck of students pulled up suddenly. Blitz Creamer, the coolest kid in school, was driving, and the back of the truck was filled to the brim with the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh coolest kids in school.
“Hey!” shouted Shades Magnum, the second coolest kid in school. “Who the FUCK are you?”
Shades started cackling and the rest of them laughed uproariously. The tires squealed and the truck drove off, splashing Nathan from belt to toe. He tried very hard to imagine this away, but he could not shake the deep anger and sadness he felt. Some things are hard to pretend, especially for Nathan who was so poor at it.
He walked the rest of the way in silence and he came upon the front doors of Pretty Good High School. Like all the other days, he was quickly approached by Principal Spooner.
“I’m sorry, young man,” said the Principal. “Students only.”
“I am a student,” Nathan sighed. “I’m always a student.”
Principal Spooner narrowed his gaze and gave Nathan a very stern and familiar look. “Well, we’ll just see about that,” he said, and grabbed Nathan by the arm, pulling him to the attendance office.
Sitting at the attendance desk was, of course, Berthenia, the 70-something attendance secretary who was the first step towards dealing with attendance-related problems.
“And who’s this?” Berthenia asked.
“Says he’s a student here,” replied Principal Spooner.
“Well, we’ll just see about that,” Berthenia replied, and grabbed Nathan by the arm, pulling him to the back room of the attendance office.
Sitting in the back room of the attendance office was, of course, Sally Grumpus, the 80-something attendance chief who was in charge of all attendance-related problems.
“And who’s this?” asked Sally Grumpus.
“Says he’s a student here,” replied Berthenia.
“Well, we’ll just see about that,” Sally Grumpus replied, and grabbed Nathan by the arm, pulling him closer to her desk. “What’s your name, ‘student’?”
“Speak up, boy!” Sally Grumpus shouted, her spittle landing on Nathan’s nose, though he pretended it was just a normal drizzle.
“Nathan Rallies!” Nathan spoke up.
“No need to shout, boy,” Sally Grumpus lectured. “I may be old, but I’m also going deaf because I’m so old, so thank you for shouting.”
A confused Nathan stood quietly as Sally Grumpus put his information into the computer. She slowly looked up and glared at him.
“He checks out,” Sally Grumpus told Berthenia. “But keep your eye on him.”
Berthenia grabbed Nathan by the arm and pulled him into the front office. She shoved him into Principal Spooner’s arms.
“He checks out,” she told him. “But keep your eye on him.”
Principal Spooner grabbed Nathan by the arm and pulled him towards the door. “I’m the Principal,” he said. “Don’t tell me what to do.” As he pulled Nathan into the hallway, he added, “ya big jerk.”
The Principal looked down at Nathan. “Now where’s your class, Mr. I’m-A-Student-Here?”
Before Nathan could answer, Principal Spooner looked around as if he no longer saw Nathan, and walked away aimlessly.
Nathan sighed. What a day like every other day. As he walked to class, he imagined he was walking to class.
“Maybe go here instead,” A voice said faintly from somewhere. Nathan paused and looked around. Somehow, the hallway felt different today.
“What?” He asked out loud, then immediately felt foolish.
“Go here,” came the voice again. This time, he knew it was coming from the snack machine to his left. A snack machine he had never seen before. A snack machine… of doom? Only kind of.
Nathan walked up to the snack machine and, slightly embarrassed, quietly asked, “Are you talking to me?”
“B-6,” said the snack machine.
Nathan took a moment to think what this might mean. Clearly it was referring to the mysterious product labeled B-6. Nathan took out a dollar bill and inserted it into the slot. Quickly, the dollar bill was rejected. He flattened out the bill and put it in again. It was quickly rejected.
“Use quarters,” said the snack machine.
Nathan reached into his pocket and came up with a piece of lint and a note from his mom that read, “I think I know you. You’re my son, right? If you are, I love you.”
Nathan sighed and looked around. Principal Spooner was approaching.
“Excuse me, sir,” asked Nathan, “Do you have change for a dollar?”
Principal Spooner examined Nathan slowly. “Sorry,” he said. “Students only.”
“I am a student,” said Nathan. “I’m always a student.”
“Well, we’ll just see about that,” said the Principal, and he grabbed Nathan’s arm and headed to the attendance office.
The rest of the morning was filled with trips to and from the attendance office. Lunch finally came, and the worst was over. Nathan made his way to the curious snack machine.
“I still don’t have any quarters,” he whispered.
The snack machine sighed, then beeped. B-6 turned and a product fell to the receptacle at the bottom. Nathan grabbed the item and examined it. It was something called “Disappear: The Drink.”
“What’s this?” Nathan asked, but the snack machine was already gone. In its place was Principal Spooner, who quickly dragged Nathan to the attendance office.
Sitting in the attendance office was, of course, Berthenia, the 70-something attendance secretary who was the first step towards dealing with attendance-related problems.
“And who’s this?” asked Berthenia.
“Says he’s a student here,” explained Principal Spooner. Nathan opened his drink and began to sip on it.
“Well, we’ll just see about that,” said Berthenia. She grabbed Nathan’s arm as he gulped his last gulp and she pulled him into the back room of the attendance office. Sitting in the back room of the attendance office was, of course, Sally Grumpus, the 80-something attendance chief who was in charge of all attendance-related problems.
“Yes?” asked Sally Grumpus.
“Don’t you mean, ‘And who’s this?’?” asked Berthenia, slightly confused.
“I would if you had brought anyone in.”
Berthenia looked down to her hand, which was clutching absolutely no one.
“But I…” Berthenia muttered. “He was right here. Wasn’t he?”
“You’re fired, Berthenia,” said Sally Grumpus.
“Yes… Yes, of course,” and she walked out of the room.
Nathan, all the while, had been saying things like “I’m right here” and “Hellooooooo.” He glanced down at his drink, which had a warning label on the side reading “Do not drink if you wish to be seen or heard.”
This seemed like the last thing he would need to drink. Nathan’s problem all along had been that he was nearly never noticed. Now he can’t even be seen or heard? What a horrible twist of fate or storytelling. He exited the back room of the attendance office and walked past Berthenia, who was cheerily emptying out her desk. He walked into the busy hallway. Students were laughing, couples were cuddling, everyone was doing something and enjoying it. Nathan briefly tried to pretend he was one of them, but all he could muster was a brief imagining of him not being one of them.
“Agggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” He screamed. No one even looked up, which was incredibly frustrating, because before he drank the mysterious Disappear: The Drink, people would at least glance up when he screamed. Sometimes they would even give him a quick “shut up.” Suicide never seemed so scary good.
Suddenly, the intercom squawked on.
“Hello, students,” said Principal Spooner. “This is Principal Spooner, Principal of you, the students.”
An awed hush filled the hall with hushy awedness.
“I’m aware this intercom only goes one way, but please feel free to answer the following,” said the Principal. “Has anyone seen that kid no one knows?”
“Oh, you mean Nathan?” asked Shades Magnum. “No one even knows that kid’s name.”
“Yeah,” said Slick Skywalker, the third coolest kid in school. “I don’t even know who you’re talking about and I know I haven’t seen him anywhere.”
“Should we be worried?” asked a worried Cool Basketball, the fifth coolest kid in school.
“I’m right here!” yelled Nathan, who was at least a little bit thankful Shades knew his name even though he also didn’t.
“Despite the fact that I can’t hear you,” Principal Spooner began, “I appreciate your input and your assumed concern. We will be canceling classes for the rest of the day in order to search for the student we all ignored until it was too late. What a very sudden lesson for us all to learn.”
The students all began searching immediately. Their concern was implicit and their desire to not have to go to class was palpable.
“Nathan! It’s Nathan, right?” filled the halls that day. As much as Nathan responded by shouting or jumping up and down, no one seemed to hear or see him, much like the label on the Drink warned. Sorry, EXACTLY like the label on the Drink warned.
The final bell rang and the students filed out. Nathan did not notice because he had spent the last hour and a half crying a shitload. After the doors closed and everyone had left, Nathan stood up. Ready to go home and not enjoy the rest of his life, he headed toward the exit. He reached for the handle and simply could not grab it. He tried again. Nothing. He pulled out his can of Disappear: The Drink and examined it once again. The warning label had changed. It now read: “Also, you can’t touch stuff.”
Dejected and speechless, Nathan walked to his favorite classroom, which at the time was just the closest classroom with a door already open. He slumped down on the floor and pretended he wasn’t crying. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not he did a good job.
Suddenly, everything began to hurt. Badly. The worst physical pain he had ever felt coupled with the worst emotional pain he had ever felt swept through his body. He keeled over and began to shake. He could feel everything shutting down, his life leaving his body. As his eyes began to close for the last time, he could see the side of his can of Disappear: The Drink.
“You will also die,” it read.
The next morning, a ceremony was held for the boy no one remembered. His mother gave a speech about how she was never fully aware she had a son, but now that she knew she apparently did, she was sad he was gone. It was odd that they did not search longer, but no one really even knew who they were looking for. They had searched the school for three periods and everyone assumed he was dead and gone. Unfortunately, they were only half right, because as the weeks went by, the room Nathan died in began to stink hard like rotting corpse. Students complained, teachers complained, and finally Principal Spooner was called in.
He walked slowly around the room and finally came upon an empty can of what appeared to be soda. On the side it read, “They will be able to smell you, though.”
Principal Spooner shook his head as if he knew about the weird snack machine.
I should have known, thought Spooner as he threw the can in a nearby trash can. I’m in a school full of litterers.
He did not know about the weird snack machine.
And what of Nathan? Well, he was definitely dead forever and his invisible corpse stayed in that classroom until it decomposed and fertilized the tile floor, spawning a sad invisible flower. But he did learn the most important lesson of all…
Be careful what you invisible, because you just might invisible.