My hands were wrapped around my cup of hot chocolate. I looked out the window, watching the snow fall in a swaying manner. From here I could see everyone without them seeing me, though I doubted they would notice me even if my apartment was on a lower floor. They seemed to be bothered by the snow, not taking the time to appreciate its beauty. Leaning my head against the cold glass I closed my eyes.
I could relate. Sometimes I was like the snow, simply falling down from the sky, only to land and disappear. But I wasn’t a small crystal that was part of a white blanket that covered the streets. I wasn’t part of anything, as much as I wished I could change that.
Sipping my hot beverage, I kept on staring. My sister should wake soon. The day would officially begin and I had to mentally prepare myself for it. Another day of not being seen. Another day of struggling to buy what I want or need. Another day of empty eyes and unmet gazes.
Because I was the girl cursed with oblivion.
On these cold days, the ones that should be festive, filled with love and joy, my curse was the most difficult to bear. The only person I had left who could see me was my sister. Our parents had left us a long time ago. I could only hope they still watched over us from heaven, but it was hard to tell.
Sighing, I stepped away from the window, heading for the kitchen instead. Mari needed her coffee in the morning. It had become somewhat of a routine that I wake early, make her coffee, then go out to eat breakfast together. Smiling, I put my cup down to grab a clean one from the cupboard. Mari was determined to help me get out there. She believed my curse could be broken by interacting with as many people as possible, being remembered by as many people. Her attempts were in vain, and I had given up not long after we started. But, stubborn Mari wasn’t easily put down. I loved her for it, even when it becomes annoying at times.
I put the cup under the coffee machine and pressed the button. The loud rattling filling the silent apartment as I leaned back against the counter, the smell of freshly made coffee soon following. I preferred chocolate over coffee, though. Too bitter.
I wondered what Mari had in mind for today. It was her day off and Christmas wasn’t far from now. I knew she wanted to spend it with her boyfriend this year, as much as she wanted to hide it. Trying to convince her to go without me was fruitless, but I was used to spending my days alone so it was no problem really. I would amuse her for a while, then make up a pretty lie. After so many years I didn’t want to keep being the burdening little sister who has to be looked after.
Taking Mari’s cup, I started for her room. It was eight-thirty, her preferred time to wake up. I quietly opened the door, setting her cup on her nightstand before opening the curtains. It didn’t make much of a difference, but it was enough for Mari to groan in annoyance. Smiling, I crawled across the bed to lay down beside her.
“Morning, sis,” she mumbled, peeking through her heavy with sleep lids.
“Morning,” I said, rolling onto my back. “It’s snowing.”
Mari hummed, rubbing her eyes. “Nice.”
“What do you want to do today?” I reached out to the ceiling, staring at it through my fingers.
“Food, for one.” Mari sighed after stretching her sleepy muscles. “Then we can go Christmas shopping, get some new decorations for the apartment.”
My arm fell down to the bed again as I looked to the window. “Sounds good.”
I wished I could love Christmas like anyone else, but the holiday was simply too gloomy for me to enjoy it. I liked decorating, it kept my mind busy. I just never liked buying decoration. Not to mention how Mari always threw out the things we bought last year so we had a reason to go buy new ones. The money and time she wasted for me was a depth I could never repay.
“I’m going to get changed then, see you in a bit,” I said, getting off the bed. Mari only hummed sleepily as she snuggled deeper into her pillow.
Anyone in my situation would probably wish things would never change, but I actually wanted my life to change. Closing my sister’s bedroom door behind me, my eyes fell on a picture of our family. If my sister would finally let go of me she could finally live her life like a twenty-five-year-old should. She would be so much happier, and I would finally be able to leave without guilt. I believed even Mari would forget me at some point, it was unavoidable.
“Darcey, come look at this,” Mari said as she took my hand, dragging me away from the little reindeer figurines. She led me to a corner of the shop where all kinds of little Santa dolls were displayed. “I think I’m going to buy one for my Dillan.”
I laughed. “Why? Isn’t that a bit strange?”
“How so?” Mari picked up a tiny, chubby Santa who seemed to be peacefully asleep beside a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. “This is adorable, anyone would be happy if they were given a little sleeping Santa.”
“If you say so.” Lazily, I scanned the shelves, slowly walking past them as I observed each little ornament. In the distance, I could hear a faint melody starting to play. Unconsciously my feet started to carry me to where the sound was coming from. The closer I came, the better I could hear it, the more beautiful it became. I started to hum, dancing my way through the people who couldn’t see me. It had become natural to move aside for strangers, so natural I could do it with my eyes closed.
A sudden shiver ran through my body as a voice began to sing. It was… enchanting. Each word was sung with such passion, such deep emotions. It hit me right in my core, leaving a strange giddiness behind. I moved faster, seeing a stage when I rounded the corner. Just as fast as I walked did I stop, my gloved hands pressed against my chest.
On the stage there stood a young man singing his heart out in front of an enormous crowd that kept growing. Several people collided with me as they rushed to get closer to this unknown singer. He was wearing a blindfold, perhaps for stage fright. Considering how much passion he sang each word with, it didn’t surprise me. Being so vulnerable in front of so many people would be scary.
As the song ended I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding in. My heart was in my throat, my cheeks flushed enough for the snow to melt immediately at direct contact. Everyone started to clap and cheer, and I wanted to join in even when I wouldn’t be heard.
The artist took off his blindfold, but instead of delight his face showed disgust, even if it was for just a second. He bowed deeply, almost in a mocking manner even, before leaving the stage. Frowning, I stopped clapping as I looked after him. As if he noticed he turned his head in my direction. I bit my lip, knowing I wasn’t the one he was looking at, and yet I thought our eyes met for a split second.
I shook my head, turning away. I held my hand to my chest, trying to calm my rapidly beating heart. I didn’t quite understand what had happened just now, but it left me curious and almost… longing, perhaps? There had been something in that song. Not the words that the guy had sung but the way he voiced it. It left me wanting to hear more, but why I couldn’t fathom.
Sighing, I headed back to the shop. My sister was right where I left her, still deciding which chubby Santa she wanted. I smiled a bit sadly, wrapping my arms around myself and pinching my sides. It was a habit I had picked up when I was a child, only later on realizing why I actually did it. It wasn’t for the cold, nor was it to keep my hands busy. It was to remind myself that I was actually real.
“Mari,” I said, placing my hand on her shoulder. “Should I help you decide?”
She grumbled, picking up two ornaments. “Please do, which one do you think Dillan would like-“ she stopped herself midsentence as she met my eyes, her expression turning from focused to concerned. “Darcey, what’s the matter?”
I raised a brow. “What? Nothing’s wrong.”
Mari brushed her thumb across my cheek. “You’re crying.”
“I…I am?” Touching my cheek I felt the wet streaks my tears had left. I really had been crying. I furrowed my brow, staring at my wet fingertips.
“I’m so sorry,” Mari said, snapping my attention away from my hand. “I ignored you, didn’t I? I’m so sorry, Darcey, I didn’t mean to.”
“No, no, that’s not what happened,” I assured her. She pulled me into her arms, hugging me tightly. Resting my head on her shoulder, I let my body relax. “I’m okay, Mari, don’t worry.”
Pulling away, Mari smiled. “I’ll treat you, okay?”
I shook my head, laughing. “Let’s get Dillan his chubby Santa first.”
“Oh, yes!” Turning back to the shelve, she grabbed both the Santa figurines. “He better like them.”
I followed her to the register. “You’re going to give both of them?”
“Yes, one is a gift from me and one from you,” she said as she put them on the counter. “You see, I have a new theory.”
Rolling my eyes, I crossed my arms. “Do tell.”
“What if we connect the memory of you to an object that you’ve given, and if I keep reminding Dillan you gave it he will be reminded of you every time he sees it.” Mari grabbed her wallet from her purse, taking out her credit card so she could pay. “It’s worth a try.”
I leaned against the counter, playing with one of the keychains. “I guess so.”
Mari said her goodbye to the shop assistant and took my arm, the chubby Santa ornaments in a plastic bag in her other hand. “How does some nice hot chocolate with whip cream sound?”
I hummed, staring up at the sky as snowflakes started to fall once more. “That sounds like heaven.”