Billy always liked to say he had charisma, a certain something that made people look his way and never stop. But the truth was people never looked at him, not once. He walked through the streets, alone and unnoticed, his only reminder that he was really there when people bumped into him and went on their way.
It hadn’t always been that way. He’d had a life once, a wife, children, friends. They talked to him, laughed with him, saw him. But slowly, things started to wind down. First his wife spoke to him less and less, finally leaving the house one day and never coming back. And his friends stopped coming over or taking his calls. Then his children ignored him as well, until one by one, they vanished. He would have panicked, but a fog fell onto his brain with each missing piece of his life, until all he could do was stumble to work each morning.
Until one day, his work wasn’t there. The whole building had vanished, leaving a blank spot in the ground that no one else seemed to notice. He returned home and found it gone as well. The fog lifted from his mind and all the pain and panic swarmed in, as Billy fell to his knees and screamed for his family, for his friends, for his life.
No one noticed his screams, or that he was even there at all. They just walked over his prone and sobbing form, stumbling a bit but never looking down to see what they had stumbled over. After a while, Billy stood up and ran about the town, shoving everyone he could find, begging to be seen. No one responded and over the weeks, the fog returned to Billy’s mind, this time voluntary.
This fog was precious. It carried a life, forged in denial and richer than his life before. He woke every day from the empty lot where his home used to be and talked to the air, using the names of his vanished family. He made his way to his work and sat in the dirt, writing fake memos, while chatting with people who no longer existed. Then he walked home again, shouting greetings to crowds that bumped into him, jostling him like an invisible tuft of air.