So a bird never diverts from its path of flight, little Kwan never deflected from her goal of becoming transparent. She was a wall of glass, a crystalline pane that the world could reflect itself through; a film through which parties on either side could see each other but not themselves. And, of course, being transparent also meant that Kwan was invisible.
How this young eight year old girl came to have this desire was simple. One day her mother brought her to the local library where they happened to read a story book about an invisible man. No one ever saw him or knew what he was doing, except when he swaddled himself in clothes and the people saw a mummy-like figure. That night Kwan dreamt about this character, as children do when they encounter something that unknowingly but powerfully fires up a corner of their imagination.
In her dream, she was invisible, but unlike the invisible man in the story, people were not just unable to see her, they were able to see things through her in a way that was different from just looking at them face on. She was like a piece of wobbly glass, that conveys images but also changes them. Like Alice’s looking glass, she revealed a hidden perspective, and people often saw things through her that they didn’t even know existed. When Kwan awoke from her dream, she found she had indeed acquired this quality of translucency. And from then on, the world became fantastical for Kwan and all around her.
For instance, Kwan was in the lift one day when Mrs Lee, Kwan’s neighbour, stepped inside with Jain the old man who lived on the top floor. Neither of them could see her of course. Mrs Lee opened her mouth to greet Jain but before any words could come out her smiled turned into a gap. Because extending from the lower back of this old man an incredibly long and furry tail. This protrusion stuck out into the air, rather like a squirrel’s tail, curled at the tip and ended just a the base of the man’s neck. Mrs Lee blinked several times just to make sure she wasn’t going slightly loopy, and, as if to tease her, the tail wiggled itself in her direction.
“Mrs Lee, are you ok?” asked Jain. “Why you look like that? Is there something wrong with me today?” He wondered if his fly was open.
Mrs Lee stuttered, “Er … yah … I’m fine.” But the expression of incredulity stayed fixed on her face.
Deciding that she was a bit off center today, Jain put this down to a symptom of her age and menopause. “You’re looking at me like I’ve grown a third leg or
At which point the lift arrived at Mrs Lee’s floor. The doors opened and she awkwardly said goodbye. As she exited, it was Jain’s turn to drop his jaw. What the …. ? Sprouting out of her back, was a pair of beautiful, white, fluttering wings.
Kwan left the lift too. As long as she remained between Jain and Mrs Lee, he could see the wings. But then Kwan moved to one side, and the wings disappeared from view. Jain shook his head, hitting his palm against one ear like swimmers do when they get water in their ears. It was all very mysterious.
The See-Through Girl
Written on 5 March 2006; unfinished