I’m Okay/ Please Help Me by Leigh Harlen

I’m Okay Please Help Me

About this disaster of a human: I’m Leslie Manning, 15, nerd, bookworm, Virgo, Ravenclaw, wannabe writer, but I tell everyone I’m planning to be an English teacher.

That feeling when the librarian is the only person who has seemed happy to see you all day and you realize she’s so happy because you’re the only person in your school who knows what a book is.

#reading #books #smart is sexy

So, I got this book at the library the other day. It’s not all that good, somebody trying to rip-off Lord of the Rings yet again. Orcs, elves, swords, and magic rings. You know the type. I still read the entire thing because I had to know how it ended and MAYBE it wouldn’t be a disappointment. It ended exactly like I knew it would. Evil defeated, the hero gets his lady, happily ever after, blah blah blah. But when I got to the last page someone had written “CAN YOU SEE ME?” on the inside of the back cover in pen. How creepy is that! I’ll post a picture when I can get my mom to give me my cellphone back. Like, if I were a character in a book or a movie, this is the part of the story where I would read some Latin out loud like an idiot and release an ancient evil curse or wake up the mummy. That book is going back to the library where someone else can deal with whatever witch or evil sorcerer read this book, decided it sucked, and then sent it back out into the world to curse unsuspecting nerds.

That’s actually a really funny thought. Coven: the book club. Beach reading with the Death Eaters. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hell.

#haunted book #cursed #reading with satan

I was thinking a lot about invisibility today. I absolutely love nerd shit and in TV there’s ALWAYS an invisibility episode, right? And in books and movies, especially if it’s a series, when they aren’t just straight up about an invisible person, they always have an invisibility subplot at some point. It even has an extensive entry on tvtropes.org. I mean, there’s the easy stuff, Harry and his cloak/Deathly Hallow and then there’s Star Trek and their cloaking devices. Invisibility that you can turn on and off. Cool and normal people get this kind of invisibility. Because they don’t WANT to disappear. They just want to sneak past Professor Snape or the Romulans and come home and still be seen by their friends and bask in the glory of being brave and well-liked.

Those stories are great, but I was thinking more about the people who become invisible and don’t have a say in it. Probably my favorite, and the one I hate the most (what can I say, I’m complicated!) is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Out of Mind, Out of Sight.” I know, Buffy is hella old. It’s outdated. Lesbian witches dressed like they’re going to the Renaissance Festival have weird fully-clothed magic sex by floating roses around their dorm room. Geez, just let them make out. Helloooo, haven’t you heard? No one is straight anymore. There was even a study about how less than half of teenagers are straight. Nobody cares. They do still care. At least they care if you’re a fat girl with hairy arms, then they’ll call you Lesbo Mansquatch.

But hetero weirdness aside, it’s still an awesome show. And there’s this girl who everyone ignores and treats like she isn’t there so the Hellmouth makes her invisible. She gets her revenge by playing nasty pranks on the popular kids and trying to cut up the quintessential beautiful girl’s face (I love Cordelia, but let’s be real, if she were an actual person most of us would want to do the same).

It’s a great concept, but why does being invisible turn her into a homicidal maniac? Was she always and invisibility gave her the opportunity? Or, and I think this is what they’re aiming for, does the isolation of not being seen drive her to madness? I think it would be great to be invisible. No more sitting in class while everyone refuses to meet her eyes when it comes time to pick groups. No more sitting alone in the bleachers pretending to text someone during school dances while everyone stares and laughs. No more feeling hurt and abandoned while her only friend dances with some sweaty jerk who only likes her because she suddenly grew massive tits.

Not only does she not have to do any of that anymore, but it’s THEIR FAULT. THEY made her invisible. It’s so perfect. But then the writers mess it up ***SPOILERS*** and let her go off to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters The Government School for Invisible Psychotic Potential Assassins with all the other kids who turned invisible. How and why are THEY invisible? Did they ALL go to school on top of the Hellmouth in Sunnydale and no one noticed all these missing kids? Who knows! Who cares! It must have seemed cool to someone but it’s so dumb.

#buffy the vampire slayer #nerd tv #invisible girl

Ugh. My feet are asleep. I’m sitting here wiggling them under the desk and they feel all tingly and weird. We had this family friend who was on a bunch on pain pills after a car accident. He fell out of bed, passed out, and woke up to find that he’d been lying on his legs all night cutting off circulation and his legs never worked again. So I keep looking under the desk to make sure they look okay. They don’t.

I took that haunted book back to the library. I’m lying. It’s right here on my desk. I probably should have burned it or taken it to be blessed by a priest or something. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture. No one cares because no one is reading this.

I had some more thoughts about invisibility. As much as I love that Buffy episode, I think it gets something pretty fundamental wrong. Being treated like no one sees you sucks a lot. But you know what is more powerful than not being seen? Being seen TOO MUCH and wishing like hell you could just disappear. And even worse than that? Being both. Then EVERYONE agrees you shouldn’t be there. One day you’re invisible, someone no one would ever want to date or even be friends with. Then the next day you’re a big fat punchline being used so your former best friend can show off and brag about how much hotter than you she is. It’s sitting in class with your hand up while the teacher calls on literally ever other person in the room and then having that same teacher burst out laughing when you walk into class because you spent an hour putting on eyeliner that morning, forgot and rubbed your eyes so you look like a raccoon doing the walk-of-shame. Now you see me, now you don’t. But couldn’t you just pick one?

#buffy #invisibility #people suck #team nobody

I didn’t have to go to school today because I don’t have a wheelchair. Why I don’t have a wheelchair is a mystery that doesn’t seem to bother anyone but me. So, if there’s anyone reading this, here’s a secret: I was born without legs. I had legs yesterday. I’m a fat, hairy, legless wonder. My mom woke me up for school this morning, got all confused, and then told me I’d have to stay home today. No one from school called to check on me. That’s okay I guess. It’s not okay. I have books to read. If I’d kept that weird possibly cursed book I’d worry that maybe it was making me disappear. I still have it. I just didn’t think disappearing would hurt this much.

#sick day #all my friends are fictional

My parents got a wheelchair so I had to go to school again today. I am truly the invisible girl now. I remember when people were mean to me. But now they don’t even look at me unless they have to. My former best friend who has literally forgotten we were ever friends came to class totally stoned and made fun of me, imitating the way I push things around on my desk with the stumps of my arms and my dramatic enunciation when I have trouble making my voice software type what I want it to. People hid their smiles while they hushed her. It’s too mean to laugh at the deformed girl in a wheelchair. I’m not sure why, it’s not like they treat me like any more of a person. I’m just a pitiful lump to them. I’d rather they laughed.

#carrie had the right idea

God, being homeschooled is the worst. I went to school only yesterday but I’m the only one who knows that. Imagine what a pain in the ass your parents are and how awful your teachers are and then make them the same people. But, apparently being legless and armless with a hollow socket for a nose that drips blood and mucus constantly makes me too “high needs” for public schools. How did I once turn the pages to read this book, that’s still sitting here on my desk, if I never had arms?

Well, enough of that. Back to invisibility and Buffy. They actually did the invisibility episode twice. The second time in “Gone” Buffy herself is invisible. She goes around messing with a mean social worker, having sex, and generally being kind of a brat. It’s funny. But also sad. I get it. She hurts and wants out of her life for a while. When it turns out the invisibility will kill her, she decides she wants to live and fights to be visible again. My body hurts so much. I want this to stop. Please let me take it back.

I wonder if it’s actually easier to be invisible than it is to be visible. What if it all depends on how people see you AND on whether you want to be seen? Maybe it’s a continuum. You can be invisible if you want, but if people want you around you’re stuck here. But if no one wants you, including yourself, maybe you just disappear completely. As if you were never there.

How many people might not be here anymore and nobody even noticed?

#home schooled #freak #buffy #invisible jerkass

My stomach and back tingle. It’s like someone dropped me on an anthill and they’re climbing all over me with their tickly little legs and burrowing their way into my skin so they can turn my flesh into their new home and my veins into their tunnels. My mom came in and rubbed lotion on my stumpy torso. It’s supposed to help sooth bedsores. She barely acknowledges I’m here. She stops in to check on me like I’m the guinea pig she bought on a whim because I was cute and looked really pitiful in the pet store so now she feels obligated to feed me and keep me alive but she doesn’t really give a shit about me anymore. I’m waiting for her to drop me off in the woods with a handful of lettuce and an apple. Is anyone reading this? I can’t see my stomach anymore.

#it puts the lotion on the skin

No one comes here. I’m something that’s impossible and so I’m impossible to visit. People move around outside, but they never stop at the door. I don’t think they know it’s there anymore. I remember a time when they did. I remember a time when I had arms and legs and a smile that was a little a crooked but made other people smile back at me. It wasn’t so long ago. At least I don’t think so. My memory is getting as fuzzy as the rest of me. My entries here tell me it’s only been days but it feels like it’s been years since I’ve seen another person.

I can’t see anything because invisible eyes can’t process light to be turned into images in my brain. But my brain is still here, it still thinks, and it still hungers for new thoughts, new worlds, and new stories. When I’m nothing, will I still be trapped in a mind that thinks and longs for those things? I even wish I hadn’t returned that cursed book that begged, “CAN YOU SEE ME?” I think it had an audio book stuffed in the dust cover. I could listen to it. I’m lying again. That book is still here. Even if I can’t see it, I know the feel of its gouged and folded cover like my own skin.

I keep talking to my computer and posting in hope that someone is reading this and that somehow it will keep what’s left of me here. If you’re reading this, clap your hands and save Tinkerbell. No? I am all alone then. If no one reads this I think I’ll become nothing. I was always nothing.

Let me tell you a story. A regular one, not the fanfic I usually write. Once upon a time, there was a girl and she found this book. In it someone had written, “CAN YOU SEE ME?” but the girl was far too smart to keep a book like that. She was too smart to even check it out from the library. She had seen all the monster movies and read everything by Stephen King. She knew better than to take home a cursed book. And she lived happily ever after.

No. That’s too obvious, right? A cursed book? That’s an even older and more over used trope than invisibility. How about this? Once upon a time, there was a girl who no one liked. No one really saw her as a person. She was too fat, too hairy, and too weird. She wished and she wished that she could be invisible. Every night she dropped to her knees and begged and prayed to anyone and anything that might be listening, “Make me invisible. Please. I will do anything.” Then one day, something heard her and she got her wish. But it didn’t happen the way she thought it would.

Both of these stories true and both of these stories are lies.

My throat and tongue that’s all that’s left of me are tingling and the audio software is having more and more trouble picking up what I’m saying.

Are you reading this? Is there anyone out there? Hit reblog and save my life. Tell me you liked me my posts and maybe I can be visible again.

#please help me

Once upon a time there was a girl. And now there isn’t.

#can you see me?

Leigh Harlen is a speculative fiction writer who lives in Seattle with their partner and an adopted family of rats and rabbits. Their work has been published in several magazines and anthologies including Aurealis, Shoreline of Infinity, and Dark Moon Digest. When not writing, they can typically be found petting strangers’ dogs or enthusing about how awesome bats are. Follow them on Twitter @leighharlen for updates on future publications and occasional pictures of bats.

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