It had started with a finger, just the tip. She noticed it on a Tuesday in math class when she picked up her pencil to sharpen it; a grey tinge skirting over the top of her index finger and coating her finger nail. She stared at it bewildered, licked it and rubbed it against her uniform expecting it to disappear but it remained, stubborn, solid.
By Thursday her whole hand had turned grey. She showed it to her mother who looked up from her laptop long enough to frown in annoyance.
She showed it to her father who, tired from a business meeting, told her he would speak to her at the weekend.
By Friday her father was off to Devon for a conference, and the grey tinge had spread up her arm and was climbing her shoulder. In desperation she picked up the phone and called the doctor’s office.
The doctor examined her hand, her arm, her shoulder. He sat back in his seat and tapped notes into his computer before turning to her and saying, “How are things at home? School? Have you made any new friends?”
She left the doctor’s office confused and scared because she had realised something vital. No one could see the stain except her. The stain was invisible.
She did the only thing she could do. She ignored it. It spread over her chest, her abdomen and over her thighs. By the end of the next week it had covered her from head to foot. The only non grey part of her was her russet hair and by Sunday that too was grey.
She was grey.
The grey girl that no one saw.
She went to class.
She did her homework.
She walked through the halls at break times and ate her lunch at her usual spot in the corner of the canteen.
No one looked at her. No one gave her a second glance.
No one saw.
It started with a finger, just the tip at first, gone, vanished. She could feel it when she pressed down on it but she couldn’t see it.
Panic squeezed her chest, tears pricked her eyes she choked back a sob, but in the next moment she a cold calm slid over her. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply be gone? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply cease to exist? Who would miss her? Not her mother with the constant deadlines, meetings and social networking. Not her father, with his busy schedule and business meetings that took him away for days at a time.
No one would miss her.
She watched impassively as her hand blinked out of existence then her wrist and her forearm.
She glanced up startled by the male voice, so close.
“Hi.” Kind brown eyes and a wide smiling mouth. “Mind if I sit here?”
She swallowed nervously, her heart smashing against her rib cage.
He cocked his head enquiringly.
She nodded jerkily.
He set down his lunch tray and slipped into the seat opposite her. “I like your hair. The colour is…effervescent.” He grinned.
She reached up to touch her hair with the hand that was suddenly there. She took a strand of it and held it before her face, blinking at the vivid colour.
“So what’s your name?” he asked.
Her name? She frowned trying to recall and then it came to her like a warm blast of air on a summer’s day. “Ella…my name is Ella.”