The Picture Never Taken
Madeline hadn't figure out her problem until she snapped out of her Netflix binge for the fifth time that late autumn night. Over the past few years she had always felt discontent with herself, but could never put a name to it. In the glow of her laptop, Madeline found her answer in a wonderfully silly crime show about officers from every country having to work together to catch an international robber, stereotypes and accents included.
Or, in her mind, what her life used to be like.
Madeline was, simply put, tired. She was tired of the questioning looks; of being looked through; of not being recognized as one of the biggest and most helpful countries; of not being known in any sense of the word.
Over the centuries she had put up with this - as getting at least some recognition was apparently too much for the other countries - but it was the 21st century! Surely they would have noticed her by now? Oh, hell, they probably wouldn't notice her if she started WWIII!
Madeline blew out a steady stream of air and crossed her forearms over her eyes. Okay, that was a little melodramatic, even by Francis' standards. Besides, even if she did start WWIII, they would still probably blame it on Alfred. Madeline giggled at the image and removed her arms from her eyes, blinking a few times against the little black spots that swam in her vision.
However, her delight ended as swiftly as it came, but instead of renewed anger taking its place, melancholy rose to the surface with a familiar pang. Madeline wrapped her arms around her legs and curled into a ball - a childish shield against her emotions, but a much needed one.
It was technically her own fault; all of these instances of mistaken identity and invisible words. All those years of fading into the background whilst finding out about her, seemingly random, magical ability had not done her justice.
As a young colony Madeline had often disguised herself (in an escape towards the horrible treatment of women) as a boy. From Francis the feat had be near impossible, but when Arthur had became her guardian the facade was much simpler; Arthur had spent his days full thanks to Alfred. It was, again, thanks to Arthur that she had developed her ironic magic of invisibility - Alfred had his strength, but that was easy to guess by his pass time of throwing around animals that were ten times larger than him as a child.
'And,' Madeline internally groaned, 'let's not forget the fact that I haven't seen another nation face to face for a good few decades or so. God, no wonder they don't recognize me by now; I'm practically a hermit!'
Even Alfred, the United States of America, her younger brother, hadn't seen her in those years. She hadn't want him come over: Madeline knew he'd only stay for five minutes and not come back for another twenty years. Neither of them really had time to spare for the other; especially with Alfred always being a tad bit sick thanks to his declining economy.
However, there was always a weird tick Alfred seemed to have, though a well deserved one. Anytime the two would talk, either by email or phone, he would always tell her to send a picture.
One time, as the siblings were catching up, Alfred had brought up how he didn't have any pictures of her. At first Madeline had been confused, but as Alfred kept going on and on she had to quickly hang up because her gasps had slowly grown in volume; her tears clouding her eyes and staining her glasses.
"C'mon, Mads! I have tons of pics of you as a dude - and Mattie is an awesome bro, don't get me wrong - but I kinda want pics of my totally amazing sis! Like, is that such a bad thing to want? I mean... hey, are you ok-?"
It was true that Madeline had made sure to cut her hair short and wear masculine clothing while around the others; she was practically born into the role of a boy. Even when they didn't notice her, it was far too risky to chance that even those she almost never talked to wouldn't notice the sudden change in sex. So, because of that, Alfred was right: He had pictures of Matthew, but never Madeline.
However, ever since she just stopped going - the reason was still a blur on that one, Madeline could never quite remember what tipped the scale - her hair had grown long and wavy and her old clothes were no longer worn. Truthfully she had no reason to not go see her brother, but something was holding her back.
Madeline sighed again (this much sighing could not be good for anyone) curled up on the couch even more, tucking her knees against her collar bone. Her thoughts raced wildly and refused to be contained until a soft noise rose from the floor.
Kumarie, her sweet polar bear, finally woke from her previous nap. Madeline smiled and reached down for her centuries-old companion for a much needed cuddle. Kuma seemed to sense whenever she felt unhappy and promptly stopped whatever it was she had been doing to help.
Kumarie cuddled up to her and stilled to let Madeline run her fingers through Kuma's fur; the softness calming her inner thunder. In place of the thunder was a bright sky, filled with ideas and possibilities. One in particular had her eyes bright and sparkling and caused her hand to still; in the silence of her paused show, her mind was loud and chaotic.
'Why didn't I think of this before?'Madeline squealed internally, 'I've always wanted to see the world as the world, the land and the creations along the way; and now I can! I'll just be another tourist visiting foreign countries! And when I'm done, I'll go see Al and we can take that picture together - I mean, it's not like I have anything pressing to do!'
As Madeline brought up the world map in her mind's eye, she decided to start in Western Europe and make her way back home: start with Spain and end in America. But as Madeline rushed to start her country hopping, she forgot something - something important - in her time away.
If another country were to step unto the land of another, of which was not their own, then that country would know. That if Canada were to step unto Spain's land, then Spain would know. Thank God no one would know which country was there.
Or was that a good thing?