If A Tree Falls In The Forest

It’s like the question about a tree in the forest.

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I was haunting my life, not really living in it. I was going through the motions and I was sure if I stopped, no one would notice. It’s a strange thing lurking your own life. One would think that my routines would have some people recognizing and expecting me, and maybe it was like that in the beginning, but after a while, I faded into the background. My face looked like any other and melted into indistinguishable features, lifeless eyes staring from the pages of magazines, ads on trains, or posters at the station. I could be anyone, no one.

A cup of coffee and a newspaper at the corner before the subway; sometimes I didn’t even read the paper, but I bought it every day. It was comforting. Missing that stop would have me off-kilter for the duration.

Staring at the reflections in the windows as I passed by before going below was a habit. I never looked at myself anymore, though. I hated that I was frumpy and unfashionable, but not enough to do anything about it. I didn’t think anyone saw me anyway. I mostly took notice of the people surrounding me. I was uninterested in the details. I just saw the crowd moving like a flock of birds, a school of fish, or a herd of sheep; all changing direction at the same time and all heading toward the same unspoken destination, guided by some force of nature. I was always tempted to change directions or turn around in the middle, thinking it would result in utter chaos. Maybe I was just tempted to see if anyone noticed me at all.

On the train, I alternated between focusing on the passing lights and walls of the tunnel, and my disappearing and reappearing reflection in the glass as we sped along the track. The blinking lights caused a strobe effect that sometimes made me nauseous. My face blurred in with the walls, the glass, and everyone else.

I had a theory that if I went unnoticed long enough, I would cease to exist. It’s like the question about a tree in the forest.

We entered the station, so I moved with the current onto the platform and turned back toward the train. There was a commotion, and I was curious. I haven’t spoken to anyone in so long, I wasn’t sure I still knew how.

“What’s the fuss?” I croaked from a dry mouth.

No one heard my question, so I made my way closer to the edge of the platform and looked where the gawkers were pointing.

I peered down at myself lifeless on the track. It’s a strange thing lurking your own life. I guess I disappeared a long time ago, I just never noticed until now.

– Written for YeahWrite.me fiction|poetry #278. Prompt up sentence, “I was haunting my life.” WC 462. Photo by Arturo Donate.

Author: LearaWrites

I am a voice actor, an artist, a photographer, and a writer, not necessarily in that order. I love animals and the ocean. I have an AA in Fine Arts and a BA in Psychology. I am an observer, a storyteller, a dreamer.

13 thoughts on “If A Tree Falls In The Forest”

  1. I really liked the detail in this piece, the blinking lights, the disappearing and reappearing reflection. Sometimes when I travel, I go for days without opening my mouth and I really relate to the feeling of the croaky, disused voice. Well-written!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the tone you set up early – lurking, indistinguishable, lifeless, no one. I also appreciated the theme of herding animals; sometimes life totally feels that way. There were a couple sentences I didn’t understand: the ones that start “One would think that my routines…recognizing” and “Staring at the reflections as I passed.” I feel like maybe they were missing a word or phrase? Also, “It was comforting like a security blanket” is a little cliche and doesn’t match the strong tone of your piece. Good work, Leara!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lurking your life sounds so ominous to me, way more intriguing than haunting. Cool. Nice repetitive use of reflection as theme. Your character both professes to not care about their physicality, and yet seems utterly obsessed with it. Again, cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “They were dead the whole time” stories are hard to pull off but I think this is great! I think the emphasis on routine, plus the relatable details about not talking in a while and feeling unfashionable, helped the twist avoid feeling cliche.

    Liked by 1 person

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