I suppose this must have been an amazing moment for them. For all I knew neither of them had met another of their kind, even unrecognized, given how difficult it seemed. Beyond this, they might be the only ones of their kind. No matter how confident Gabriel seemed, it still must have been lonely, even for him. And he’d struggled for this contact, and he’d decided to trust an unknown – me – to bring it into being. And for Natalie, it goes beyond words. All those years of appearing insignificant, invisible, to finally be seen and seen as crucially important, as belonging. So it would have been incredible, and really, to even want a part of it was disgustingly greedy of me. But hey, I’m no saint. I didn’t want to be left out.
But Gabriel, as I would come to learn, is almost a social savant. He picks up nuances that would be lost on the rest of us. Maybe it’s from being able to invisibly watch others, see their secrets, when they think no-one’s looking, or maybe he’s just smarter than most of us. In either case, he’d given Natalie just what she wanted at the moment she needed it, then he turned and did the same for me.
“And we have you to thank Peter. And I do, very much.”
“You’re welcome,” I answered, rather amazed at his timing, but happy to be acknowledged. “It is an extraordinary thing though, once I saw it on film I had to see it through.”
“Nevertheless,” Gabriel said, saying it all, “Please, eat! Eat!”
We fell to companionable discussion. Just the three of us, as normal as can be, just friends sharing a lunch. Extraordinary.
Gabriel told us of his life, his travels and his education. He told us how he’d come to realize his ‘difference’ fairly young, but because he was an only child and a darling of his mother, it had never been a vexation. If this ability ran in the family, the bloodline, she either never knew or never spoke of it, and for Gabriel the concept that he could be unique never seemed something worthy of questioning.
Wrapped in love and unconditional attention when he needed it, in that home he would never have felt left out or overlooked. It wouldn’t have occurred to him. He just came to realize that he could do things other people couldn’t.
“I hadn’t so much felt invisible and left out as capable of hiding,” he said, “I suppose that was the key. So I played with it, and in doing so, became more and more aware. I wasn’t always what you would call moral about it, but it was like a science investigation, there are casualties to that. What I was always looking for, and have only just found of late in you Natalie, was someone like me. I was surprised how hard it was to make contact though. It showed me something else I hadn’t known about this state of being, and difficulties associated with it I hadn’t anticipated.”
Natalie responded by explaining how it had been to her, but that she had never realized what it meant. As she spoke I saw a real tenderness and understanding on Gabriel’s face, and I saw how she responded to that with a simple, childlike gratitude. That should have made me happier for her, but it somehow angered me slightly. He could commune on a level I never could, understanding her state in a way I never would. It made me a little jealous. But as she spoke, how could I begrudge her this little happiness this connection?
“I just thought I was uninteresting, unattractive, of no real consequence, like people didn’t see me because I wasn’t worth seeing.”
“You poor thing” Gabriel sympathized, “It’s not true, not true at all.”
“Yes!” she agreed, “I didn’t understand any of it until Peter showed me the film! I had no idea! I was just unhappy all the time, just alone, but even if I tried to tell friends to get them to see how it was, they never did. How could they, I suppose.”
She continued to sketch out her life story to Gabriel much as she had previously done for me. Again I was amazed how open these creatures of talented hiding were to each other and to me. I wanted to hug her as she told the tale, but as usual I felt unable to get that close. Gabriel watched her steadily, attentive, only occasionally glancing to me with a kind of knowing look. It wasn’t derisive or judgmental of her at all; instead it sought only to include me. I wasn’t sure if a master of the art was just beguiling me. By then I didn’t really care.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved