I don’t really know where this story came from. I guess since it’s Solstice today, I am pondering the nature of the festive season, and how it impacts invisible people. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but neither did The little Match Girl, which heavily inspires this story I’m, at least temporarily, naming Invisible.
Jack is as old as the wind, and a little older than the hills, and his beard could be no whiter.
His touch is cold enough to kill, so he bundles himself in thick furs and hide mittens. He won’t risk it happening again.
He can see her face even now, the invisible little match girl, lighting tiny flames to keep the cold away.
It isn’t very festive to notice a child dying in the snow, so none of them saw her as they hurried past. One simply cannot enjoy a feast knowing that someone else is starving just yards away. It dulls the party mood.
Jack noticed though. The invisible is obvious to other invisibles.
She was a tiny little thing, a bag of bones wrapped in rags. She wouldn’t have needed much, just a bite, a crust, to keep her from starving. More important would have been the warmth, the internal, glowing ember of being seen. Just someone to notice, to care, even for a short moment.
Humans are such fragile things.
He drew delicate patterns of frost on the windows she pressed her nose against, trying to bring some joy, some distraction, while obscuring scenes of loving togetherness she would never be part of.
Most humans saw his art as something of an annoyance; they’d scrape it away while complaining at the bitter cold, with no thought for the artist. Not so, her. She traced translucent fingertips across intricate patterns, gasping at their beauty. She saw him, right to his soul, even while he was invisible to her.
As her last match stuttered and died, he instinctively held her close, and what little warmth she had left fled her.
He sat with her for three days, tracing fern-like patterns on her skin, until finally the parties were over and someone came to deliver more coal, and found her stiff little body huddled in the trash.
Jack would never get close to a human again.
Instead he slips through the dark silently evermore, painting the green leaves red and gold like the christmas decorations she loved so much. He dances frost spirals across the land, and bejewells cobwebs in memory of the invisible girl, who, nevertheless, could see him.