When Marigold was young, walking down the street was a misery. Men looked her up and down, made remarks and rude comments, whistled and yelled. No matter how she was dressed or what she was doing, it was the same. If she was in the right mood, she found it amusing. Other times it was annoying. Sometimes scary. Subconsciously she always felt on edge, like she walked a fine line between harmless boys-will-be-boys flattery and unacceptable harassment. It could be hard to tell the difference.
But a funny thing happened as she aged. She became invisible. Not only did she not attract attention in the street, she couldn’t attract it in stores where she shopped, at traffic lights when she had the right-of-way, or in meetings when she had something to say. It was disorienting, having been the object of one hundred per cent attention, to go to zero. To disappear.
Then it became liberating.
“Invisibility is my super-power,” she told her friend, Caro.
“Not just yours,” Caro said, “mine,too. I bet I could walk down the street naked and no one would notice.”
“It kind of gives us an edge, don’t you think?” Marigold said.
“Hmmm. What do you think we could get away with? Just for fun, of course.”
Caro tried an experiment. She walked out of a department store openly carrying an expensive, unpaid-for purse. Alarms sounded and several store employees converged on the area where Caro stood waiting outside the door. The purse hung over her arm, price-tags dangling, but no one looked at her. After watching the store personnel conduct a search of the area, she stepped forward.
“Oh, dear,” she said, “I seem to have walked out with this purse. I was looking at it, and then I remembered I was late for an appointment and I forgot I was carrying it. What should I do?”
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll take it. No worries, anybody could make that mistake.”
The employee still darted harassed glances around the mall, even while accepting the bag in question. Caro walked away smiling to herself.
Marigold was more daring. “The neighbor’s dog stays chained in their backyard day and night. They completely ignore him, and I hear the poor thing barking at all hours. I’m going to use my super power to rescue him.”
She knocked on the neighbor’s door. “Good morning. I was wondering if I might borrow your dog. I’m going for a walk and it would be nice to have a dog along for safety, you know.”
“Sure, Miz, er, Missus, uh,” said her neighbor, looking vaguely over her head. “Just clip him back on the chain when you return.”
The dog got his walk, all right, to a new home that Marigold had lined up for him, a home with a fenced yard and kids who couldn’t wait to meet him. Later, she noticed her neighbor examine the slack chain with an expression of puzzlement, then shrug and go back into the house. She smiled to herself. Being a thief was surprisingly rewarding.
Marigold and Caro knew the cloak of invisibility could be a real pain – when a waiting room slowly emptied out except for them, for instance – but once they learned how to work it to their advantage, they embraced it. No more worries about finding just the right outfit because nobody was looking. No more time spent fussing with their hair or make-up; it went unnoticed.
“I like invisibility now that I’m used to it,” Marigold said. “It’s relaxing to be able to come and go without a hassle. There’s a lot less pressure.”
“There’s still one group of people that can see us, though, and here they come.” Caro hurried to open the door, smiling not just to herself now but into the little faces turned eagerly up to hers.
“Grandma, Grandma, wait ‘til I show you what I made in school!”
“Did you bake cookies? Can we make hot chocolate?”
“Hi, Miss Marigold, will you read to us? I brought my book about horses.”
“Oooh, I like your pretty pink sweater. Pink’s my favorite color.”
Marigold and Caro agreed it was sometimes good – very good – to be seen.