Being invisible was just the tip of the iceberg

Suddenly the Invisible Man is besieged by old snapshots.

Snapshots on the walls of his daughter’s empty apartment when he drops off something.

Including one of his wife wearing fairy wings and waving a magic wand while his daughter, as a child, regards the camera with a sober expression.

Snapshots in frames on his desk, or taped to the walls.

Including one of his wife smiling in a blue swimming pool, holding his daughter as a toddler, also smiling.

So much sunshine and smiling.

There are more. In one he carries his daughter on his shoulders. It is from before he became invisible. It is underexposed and he has black hair and a black beard and looks scary. His daughter is hugging his head. They are surrounded by flowers.

(It is the older daughter in most of the pictures, because the pictures of the younger daughter are mostly digital, and lost forever, or somewhere hard to recover).

Looking at all these pictures would be bad enough for the Invisible Man for the nostalgia alone but it’s worse.

The Invisible Man thought being invisible was bad, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. The snapshots goof up time and the Invisible Man becomes unstuck and encounters all his past selves, and the past selves of those he loves.

If you think being invisible is bad – and listen, it is, robbing banks is fun only so long – becoming unstuck in time and encountering all your past selves really sucks.

Because it turns out every single one is a stranger.

Those past selves you remember don’t even exist.

Memory is funny that way.

And in many cases, not every single one of these past selves is someone you’d care to remember.

There is a reason memory does that.

This is why forgiveness is so important.

Because sometime the snapshots add up and time dissolves and then what?

He calls his wife and apologizes.

Water under the bridge, she says.

Sunk cost.

Time travel – 1. Indications of time travel

  1. Huge fortunes amassed through lucky investments or unusual inventions.
  2. Lottery wins
  3. People who resemble you, only older, accosting you on the street with advice.
  4. Assassinations
  5. Hitler getting beat up a lot as a child
  6. Serial killings of similar-looking people by assassins from the future with only approximate descriptions of their target.
  7. Teddy Roosevelt prevented from annexing Mexico
  8. Eradication of smallpox
  9. Beyonce Knowles
  10. What else?



It is the new moon, or thereabouts. Maybe it was yesterday. That wouldn’t surprise Odin. The new moon affects Odin more strongly than the full moon. Also, it’s stealthy. With the full moon, at least you can see the full moon and prepare yourself. You forget about the new moon.

The new moon makes Odin stupid, and he was stupid yesterday. Yesterday was Thursday. The day before that was Wednesday, and Odin was stupid then, too.

The only reason, for example, the only reason Odin didn’t get a ticket yesterday is, the police officer was… I don’t know why. No idea why Odin didn’t get a ticket, but the police officer just warned him. Odin wanted to buy him donuts he was so grateful.

And Wednesday. Odin was out of it, that is, unable to recognize situations in time and avoid them.

Such as: he sat on one of four seats opposite the doors on the street car. Never sit there. Those are the first seats. That’s where crazy people sit, for example.

Of course, crazy people sit everywhere.

Odin sat opposite the doors. At the next stop, all the average people got off but for one young man to Odin’s right. A very wide man got on and sat on the two seats to Odin’s left. Then at the stop after that, an even wider man got on; wider but shorter, with a huge head, small eyes and mouth. In a high voice he asked if he could sit on one of the seats, which were full. The young man to Odin’s right got up to let the guy sit so you had four seats, two occupied by the large man on the left, two by the corpulent large headed man on the right, and Odin squished in between.

The man on the left was looking for something in his back pack, which was beside Odin, and the man on the right was looking for something in the back pocket of his (the man’s) jeans. That is, there was a lot of squirming going on.

Odin thought, I deserve this for not reacting fast enough.

The man to Odin’s right had a caretaker he kept asking where they were; and the man kept showing him a map on his smart phone.

All of them were going to the terminal station, it turned out, where Odin got off, took a passport photo of himself in a photo booth and got yelled at by his wife for making her wait. Odin pointed out that it was still five minutes before the time they had agreed to meet, but that did not help.

So because of things like this, when a cat woke Odin early Friday morning, he did not fight to fall back to sleep. He meditated, and stretched, and wrote and started his day feeling human, if a little sleepy.

The new moon must be waxing, he thought. He did not feel as acutely stupid.

On his lunch break he went to a fabric store and bought black-out cloth. He took public transportation there and avoided uncomfortable situations and found most passengers delightful.

He also found the fabric store delightful in its plain-ness. Just bolt after bolt of fabric and sales clerks running around. One greeted him politely, he greeted her politely back and told her what he wanted and she sent him to the basement.

My childhood, it reminds me of my childhood, Odin thought. The plain functionality. The lack of any intention to delight you into buying more than you wanted was delightful.

The saleswoman in the cellar was from Africa. She gave Odin a choice between velvet, genuine black-out cloth, and another fabric she said another photographer had purchased and hadn’t worked. The velvet looked the prettiest, but the black-out cloth kept giving her shocks so he got that.

You have to like fabric that fights back.

On his way back to the office Odin got some Chinese takeout.

He was going to eat it in the office, but as he walked by the bench someone cawed at him and he was like, I know that caw. So he sat down and all three crows appeared.

He threw a piece of chicken to Muninn, the black one, and Muninn was like, whoa, dude! and Odin was like, sorry, shoulda warned you, it’s still hot. Didn’t realize it’d still be hot.

Then he threw a piece of chicken to Grey #2 but it landed too close and Grey #2 wouldn’t approach that close so Odin had to throw a few more.

In the end, the crows got most of the chicken, or almost half, and Odin had most of the rice and sauce.

That’s why Odin is so sleepy.

What say the slain?

Time travel is real, it’s a thing we all do, recalling the dreams of our child when she was small, or observing the salesclerk at the Kurdish fruit stand and noticing that his hair is grey and remembering when it was black and he’s the same guy but he’s not.

Just like all of us other time travellers.

Behold the sturgeon

The sturgeon decides enough is enough and decides to finish turning that cluttered room in the cellar into a studio/workshop/whatever. He marches downstairs, opens the door, steps inside and stands there gobsmacked by the horribility of the mess.

He is standing there while his youngest daughter enters. “Dude, I would totally put a sofa right there,” she says. “Or a big mafia boss chair, at least.”

He throws out some stuff, then goes to bed and sleeps.

The next day he goes back down there and throws away some more stuff. Other stuff he arranges in boxes and puts away in an orderly manner. Slowly it begins to look better than before.

He stands at the work table going through papers he has, for whatever reason, saved. Post-Its with scribbles on them, for instance. You never know when you will need one of those. Instruction manuals for computers he no longer has.

A piece of paper reading, “I love you” in the handwriting of one of his daughters. Tapes that to the wall.

Later he finds a Valentine’s card his oldest daughter gave him when she was four or five.

This is time travel, it dawns on him. This is two tin cans connected by a string, stretched between him, now, and that little girl sixteen, seventeen years ago.

He holds the can up close to his ear.

He can hear her voice, as he reads the card.

“I want you to be happy,” she says.

“I love you,” she says.

“I am giving you a castle with lots of roses.”

The world is full of these tin can telephones, crossing decades, he thinks.

This is why he can’t throw anything away. You never know.

Everything comes to a stop for a minute, down there in the cellar.

“I am giving you a castle with lots of roses, just for you and me.”

That’s all they want from him, he realizes. That is the only thing – for him to be happy.

Everyone who loves me wants only for me to be happy, he thinks.

So he decides to be happy.

Just like that.

And he is.

His oldest daughter, she of the time traveling tin can phone, writes of her trip through India and he is happy, amazed at her talent for writing, her eye for detail, her heart for the world.

His youngest daughter informs him that he has to drive her into Vienna before work tomorrow for a dance lesson. He asks her what sort of dance and she says, pole dancing, and he is happy.

He plays cello with his teacher at a lesson and at one point the beauty of Vivaldi moves him to the verge of tears, and he is happy.

He tapes the Valentine’s card to the wall of his shop. Then he throws away some more junk.