I Can't See You, page 1
I Can’t See You
Copyright 2013 Emma Laybourn
Emma Laybourn’s website is at:
Table of Contents
wrote Miss Lewis on the whiteboard.
Underneath it she added with a flourish,
Make the person disappear!
You may only use a pencil.
Oliver immediately began waving his pencil round like a wand, until the teacher gave him a stern look.
“Oliver and Reece, get on,” she said.
Reece thought this was unfair. He was getting on. He was already busy drawing on his photocopied sheet of paper.
The sheet had a face printed on it. All over the classroom, groups of children were scribbling with their pencils on their own, similar sheets. They weren’t allowed to draw on the faces, only round them. There was a lot of rubbing out and muffled grumbling, especially from Oliver.
“This is stupid,” he complained. “You can’t draw an optical illusion with a pencil. You need a computer.”
“No, you don’t,” said Reece, eager to impress him. “I know how.”
This was the first time he had sat with Oliver’s group; although ever since he started at this school a month ago, he’d been wondering how to join it.
Oliver’s table was cool. It was as cool as a fridge full of iced coffee. As cool as a skating-rink with champions gliding casually round it, hands behind their backs.
The four boys at Oliver’s table were all on the football team. They had sharp haircuts and told witty jokes about the other children in the class. They ruled the roost in the playground.
When one of them went off sick, Reece asked the teacher if he could take his place. So now he was sitting where he’d longed to be, with Oliver, Kai and Joel: the cool crowd.
And he was determined to shine. To impress them. To show them that he had the right to be there.
The classroom filled with muttering and rustling as everyone struggled to make an optical illusion. Abby had already given up and turned her sheet into a paper plane, which she aimed at Maya.
“Stop that!” ordered Miss Lewis. “This is not an aerodrome.”
“It’s not a plane,” said Abby. “It’s a poison dart.”
Oliver drew, rubbed out, drew, rubbed out again. He looked fed up. Reece reached over and took Oliver’s sheet of paper off him.
“Hey,” said Oliver.
“You’re not doing it right,” said Reece. “Do it like this.” He began to draw swirly lines around the face.
“So what’s that meant to be?”
“It’s like camouflage,” said Reece. “The face gets harder to pick out.”
“No, it doesn’t,” said Oliver.
“It does,” insisted Reece.
Miss Lewis, overhearing, turned to see. “Well done, Reece!” she said. “You’ve got the right idea.” Reece glowed.
“It’s not that great,” said Oliver as Miss Lewis zoomed off again to scold Abby.
“You can still see the face,” said Joel. “It’s not invisible at all.”
“It’s rubbish,” grumbled Kai.
“But look, it’s starting to disappear!” protested Reece. “You just have to draw more lines, like this, you see?”
“You’re a right know-it-all, aren’t you?” said Oliver. “Why don’t you just disappear?”
“Hey, he did!” said Joel. “I can’t see him.”
“He’s invisible,” said Kai.
Oliver began to smile for the first time that morning. “You’re right. He must be an optical illusion.”
“Look,” said Reece, “I’m only showing you–”
“What’s that?” Oliver cupped a hand around his ear. “I can’t hear you.”
“Hear who?” said Joel. “There’s nobody there.”
Reece bent his head over the sheet and drew determinedly. He knew how to make it work. He would show the others. They leant back in their chairs and watched.
“Excellent,” said Miss Lewis when she came round to their table again. She held his sheet up for the class to see.
“Excellent,” murmured Oliver.
“He’s a genius,” breathed Joel.
“Who is?” said Kai. And they all sniggered.
Miss Lewis looked at the clock. “Playtime,” she announced. “Leave your sheets neatly on your tables. Put all the pencils in the pots, not in Maya’s hair, please, Abby. Because of their good work, Oliver’s group may go out first.”
“Win!” said Joel beneath his breath.
And surely that win was worth something, thought Reece as he hurried out behind the other three. Surely that was worth a game of football.
“Can I play on your team today?” he asked.
Oliver looked around, up and down, from side to side: everywhere but at Reece. “Who’s that talking? I can’t see.”
“It’s me! I’m here!” said Reece urgently. “I don’t mind going in goal.”
“That wouldn’t work,” said Oliver. “I can’t see you. Whoever you are.”
“Can’t have an invisible goalie,” said Kai.
“That’d be useless,” said Joel. “Though come to think of it, you are anyway.”
“Hang on.” Oliver twirled the football in his hands, thinking, until he seemed to change his mind. “Yeah, all right, then. You can play.”
“You don’t have to go in goal,” said Oliver. “Midfield. Just watch out we don’t trip over you.” He nudged the others.
That nudge should have warned Reece; but it didn’t. It took a while for him to understand that he was still invisible.
When more children joined the game, Oliver passed the word on to them. And nobody passed the ball to Reece. Not once.
His team ignored him. No matter how loud he yelled or how vigorously he waved, he might as well have not been there at all.
“Who’s that shouting?” asked Oliver. He shielded his eyes and peered around. “I can’t see anyone!”
Joel put a hand to his ear. “Did I hear someone call?”
“Can’t have,” said Kai. “There’s no-one there.”
As for the other team, they took it up enthusiastically: after all, it was helping them to win.
So they decided that they couldn’t see Reece either. They barged into him, over him and through him like reckless dodgem drivers.
“Watch out! I can’t see you,” yelled Cody, as he ran across his legs and scythed him to the ground.
“Ouch! That was a foul!” protested Reece, struggling painfully to his feet.
“Oops, I just tackled the invisible man,” shouted Cody.
Reece hobbled to the sidelines.
“Prats,” said Seth who was standing there with Adam. “Come and play with us instead.”
Reece shook his head. Seth was a nerd. Adam was fat. They played weird and complicated games that involved pretending to be dolphins. They swooped and dived around the playground beeping, as if they were six. They were not cool.
His ankle was hurting really badly. He limped over to the doorway and sat down on the step to rub it.
“Those boys are so childish,” sighed Maya nearby with her gang of girls. “They are such idiots.” She rolled her eyes.
“Yeah,” said Reece, thinking, Great. So everyone’s been watching me ge
“You have to just ignore them, Reece.”
“Yeah,” said Reece again; but he meant No.
How could he ignore them? He wanted to be them. Kai and Joel were looking at him now, and pretending not to, and bursting into whoops of laughter.
Reece got up and limped into the school.
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