I see you

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt



She is sitting in her regular spot in the corner of the coffee-house. She has been coming here regularly now for almost a month and has almost started to relax even though she still flinches every time someone walks past to fast or sits down too close. Dressed in a knitted sweater much to big and a scarf wrapped in layers around her shoulders, it looks as if she is drowning in multicoloured tar, her hair framing her face like a curtain closing on a show no-one wants to see. She is shy and she hates herself for it. 

Caroline looks down at the open notebook in front of her on the table. The pages are still empty and the pen next to the tea cup hasn’t been moved since she got there. She usually writes down short observations and things she sees around her, but recently she has grown tired of it and these observations just serves as reminders of her flaws. Looking around the packed coffee-house everything is as it seems, many people are talking and laughing, some are on their laptops connected elsewhere, some are studying. A man is sitting by the window, reading. They all have something in common, Caroline thinks. They don’t notice her. 

Having been home schooled since the age of ten and not allowed to watch tv or any other interactions apart from the cashiers at various department stores she visited with her mother, Caroline has never really been able to speak with other people. Her had mother assured her that she would only get disappointed in them if she did, although she couldn’t understand why. People seemed perfectly happy and nice, interesting and fun - friendly. Caroline didn’t have any reason to mistrust her mother, after all, the woman had provided for her and spent every waking moment with her for over fifteen years, ever since her father disappeared. She could still vaguely remember her father. He was a nice man and the family was really happy for a time. Her mother never spoke ill of him or anyone until he left, and Caroline was a normal kid, in a normal school. She even had a friend over once. Ruby was her name. But that was all she could remember now. 

”Are you finished with that?

Lost in thoughts, Caroline is startled when the waitress speaks to her and jerks back against the wall. The waitress smiles, she has a pink streak in her hair and a tattoo of Snoopy poking out of her shirt.

”I’m sorry”, the waitress says. ” I didn’t mean to scare you, is it ok if I clear the table?”

Caroline can feel the blood rushing to her face and without looking she grabs her notebook and pen and leaves her seat. The waitress stares after her as she hurries towards the exit almost knocking over a table on her way. She thinks I’m weird, Caroline thinks. They all do.

The city is filled with people. It’s lunchtime and many have escaped from offices and lecture halls to wander the streets. Caroline is walking with her head down, hands clasped inside the long arms of her sweater, not looking up when people pass her, just navigating between them like mist. She passes many stores with colourful clothes in the windows, shiny models with bright smiles, travel adverts, beautiful people. She glances over at them but almost immediately averts her eyes. That will never be her, she tells herself. She is nothing like them.

On the subway on her way home she can hide in plain sight as no one looks up or talks to anyone and that makes it easier. As always she is looking at them, intrigued by their differences, in awe of their likeness and jealous of their confidence. She wishes she could just drown out everybody, and stop caring what they think. Like they seem to not care. But she knows she can’t. A couple of seats to her left a young couple is sitting, close and lovely. The young man is holding the young woman’s hand and she is whispering something against his neck. He smiles and kisses her gently. Caroline can feel a tightness in her chest and her skin ache. 

That evening she is sitting in her apartment alone, writing in her diary about her day, about what she has seen, about the couple on the subway, the man in the coffee-house reading his book, the waitress with the pink in her hair. She never writes about what she wants, that would only make her sad. After a while she shuts the book and leaves it there on the table. The night is setting outside and tomorrow will be a new day.


It takes a couple of days before she returns to the coffee-house again. This time there are not as many customers as usual. Perhaps because of the weather, it has been cloudy and usually on weekends people stay inside when it rains. Caroline is reading in her book, mostly going over past notes but also looking around to find something new to write down. The man with the book is there again. She has wondered about him. What does he read? What does he do? One time she tried to catch the title of his book but did not dare to linger in case he would notice. This time it’s a green book with a gold lining and slightly yellow pages. Looks old and worn. Perhaps a favourite

Suddenly she realises she has been staring for too long and that the man is looking at her. Their eyes meet and he smiles at her. Caroline is mortified and quickly stands up and leaves her half finished cup of tea behind as she exits the coffee-house. The man follow her with his eyes.

Caroline manages to hold herself together until she gets home but then explodes in a hot white rage as soon as the door closes behind her. Frustrated she throws her coat and scarf on the floor and kicks her shoes off. She hates herself! Why can’t she just be like everybody else? Why is she so different? They all look so happy, they have jobs, they have friends, relationships - lives!! She is just a weird girl hidden away in a dingy apartment afraid of everything. Why couldn’t she just smile back at the man? He looks nice, seems nice, he knows who she is, they have been there many times at the same time, it would be natural for them to say hello - why then does it seem so hard?

She sits down at her kitchen table and opens her book, grabs the pen and starts to write, furiously. It is not going well and she erases and writes again before crumpling the page and wiping it off the table. She leans her head into her palm and sighs. The fresh new page is ready for anything but the pen lies there as a huge roadblock. Caroline puts two fingers on the pen and starts to roll it against the paper, back and forth, back and forth, her big blue eyes following it closely. Slowly she raises her hand and even as her fingers leave the pen, the pen keeps rolling back and forth, as if connected to her finger with an invisible thread. Caroline just lets her fingers gently flutter above the pencil, watching it adhere to her every move. ”I wish I could talk to someone”, she says, and the text appears on the page, like poured from the air. 

Caroline doesn’t know where her shyness comes from, but she knows it has something to do with her mother and the disappearance of her father. Everything changed when he didn’t come home that one day. Her mother had been cooking in silence and Caroline could feel that something wasn’t right. Mother used to love cooking and always had a slight smile on her face as she prepared the meals, no matter how mundane, she always treated it like she was making dinner for royalty, not just a typical working-class family. Caroline used to love watching her cook, sitting in the window quiet as a mouse. ”Sit perfectly still my dandelion”, her mother used to say. ”I don’t want you to fall in. ” Then they would giggle together. 

But it all ended that day. From that day on, mother became quiet and serious, hardly ever left the house except going for groceries. Shortly after Caroline was pulled from school. And life got different.

”My dandelion”, Caroline watches as the air above her stirs and thickens when the words she has spoken into existence, twists and forms in front of her like paint drops in water. 


The letters are undulating and slowly moving in the air, Caroline pushes her finger through it and watch as it disperse like sand only to reassemble when she pulls her hand back. She remembers when her father taught her this trick, how he sat with her at bedtime and made up stories, letting brightly coloured sand creatures play out scenes for her under the ceiling. 

”You can make them yourself when I’m not around”, her father said and held her hand. ”Just feel it in your fingers, and paint in your mind.”

 Caroline had made a firefly that first night. It caught them both by surprise.

Now, years later, as she is sitting by herself in her kitchen she wishes he was still here so she wouldn’t be so alone. Mother never understood what they shared and never approved. Caroline once made stars shoot across her parents bed. It was the morning of mothers birthday - but instead of being happy, her mother had locked herself in the bathroom. Caroline never showed off again.

The crumpled paper ball lies in the corner on the kitchen floor. Caroline looks at it. None of her parents knows about this but making flowing figures appear or shooting stars, were just the first things she learned. In her solitude she has figured out how to do so much more. 

She reaches for the paper ball on the floor, slowly breathes and steadies her eyes. She can feel the air tighten, like gelatine slowly hardening, until it forms a bridge between her hand and the ball. She feels it now, not against her skin, but the weight and texture of it, moving along her arm until it settles in the back of her head like an anchor. And just as a fisherman, she starts reeling it in and watches as the ball of paper rolls off the ground and slowly floats towards her hand, like a snowball in slowmotion. As the ball closes in she turns her hand and lets it hover above her palm for moment before rising slowly until it reaches midway between table and ceiling, and hangs in front of her face. The text that has been shimmering and floating like paper cutouts on water, start to move and bend around the ball like a halo. Caroline smiles.

”My dandelion”, she says quietly, and gently blows at the hovering paper ball and its shimmering halo. And just like a dandelion; it shatters and spreads like stardust, slowly fading like embers around a dying fire.


The chilled playlist pouring through the speakers are drowned out by the many conversations around her. Caroline is writing in her book and has her head down. The tables in the back were busy and has forced her to sit closer to the door, by a row of tables, occupied by a couple of people. As long as she keeps her head down she can shut them out, and for some reason, today it does not seem so hard. Today she has even written about her mother, something she has never done - not on paper anyway. She turns back a page and reads to herself:

Mother. I know what you did was bad. But I also know you thought is was for the best. I know that dad is out there, and I know you still miss him - even if you were the one who told them what he was, and let them find us. Maybe you will always be scared, maybe you will never admit it, but I can’t be scared no more, I won’t be. I will always love you. But it’s time to move on...

As she finishes she traces the words with her finger, and as she reaches the end, the words ”Yours, Caroline” appears below.

She closes the book and looks around. The couple next to her has left and she is almost by herself. A businessman with a headset is busy on a call and a waitress is taking orders at the opposing tables. Caroline looks over to the table next to her. A square sugar dispenser in shiny metal stands between a salt and pepper shaker and a plastic looking flower. Slowly she reaches for the sugar and narrows her eyes. The sugar dispenser doesn’t move. Surprised, Caroline takes a deep breath and concentrates harder. Still nothing. 

After a while she gives up and - just as she lowers her hand, the sugar dispenser slides across the table and into the hand of someone else. Caroline looks up and sees the man she’s so far only known as the young man by the window with his books. He smiles.

”I see you”, he says. He has a look of relief and joy in his eyes so moving Carolines can’t look away. She understands. And yet she doesn’t.

”I see you”, he says again. ”And I can'´t wait to meet you”


Authors note:

This story didn't turn out the way I wanted. In a week I have lost my job and an income I depended on as the company I worked for filed for bankruptcy. I really wanted to finish but my mind was elsewhere.

It has been a rough couple of months. I hope you all are doing well and take care of each other. I also hope you got something out of this story. Even though it was a struggle to keep writing. I love this community and hope to return to form soon again.

Much love


July 03, 2020 22:48

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