Vanishing Act

by Colleen Markley

Clarice wasn’t sure which was odder: that she was becoming invisible or that her husband hadn’t noticed.

“I must be overtired,” she remarked to John, examining the skillet she was scrubbing through an opening in the back of her hand. Was this glaucoma?

She glanced up from the suds to the window over the sink. The waning gibbous moon hung at eye level, partially hidden by silhouetted branches. Noting the white ash tree needed pruning, she admired the moon for a moment before returning her attention to her current task. Grease, burned into the bottom of the pan, flaked off in charred clumps and shadows as she scrubbed. The sponge blackened from the effort.

Leaning against the fridge, John told her he was tired too and was heading up to bed. She didn’t mind finishing the washing up, did she? After all, he had cooked. He was fishing for a compliment, and she offered one.

“The sausages were delicious.”

The hole in her hand reformed to solid after he left the kitchen, and Clarice made a mental note to schedule an eye exam and add dish soap to the list. They were almost out.

Sitting on the couch the next evening, watching two teams she didn’t recognize play in a game of some importance she couldn’t recall, Clarice realized that both of her arms were missing. Their shape filled out her cotton slub sweater just fine, but when she pushed her sleeves up to where her elbows should have been, her silver watch hung in the air, circling nothing.


“Claire,” he answered back, his barely-there accent pronouncing it Clear, and she felt like he was chanting her name in incantation.

“Do I seem different to you?”

His face stayed fixed on the screen ahead of him. “Since when?”

“Just now.” She stretched her missing hands and arms towards John. Maybe her face was still there?

“You’re the same love of my life since I met—oh, Jesus Christ, how could you miss that pass? You were wide open!” John thumbed his phone and sent a text. His friends were watching at home with their wives, too. And texting each other. Ping.

“Look at this, isn’t he hilarious?” He held out his phone, and she tried to grasp it, but she wasn’t sure where her hand began. She accidentally knocked the phone away.

“Oh, sorry.” Clarice wondered if her invisibility issues would stymie her own phone’s face recognition. She couldn’t remember where she’d left the thing to try.

“When did you become klutzy?” John laughed as he reached down to retrieve his phone from the floor.

“I think when I started disappearing.”

John rummaged under the couch to find his phone and sighed. “Is this some metaphor I’m not going to understand? Can this wait ‘til after?”

Clarice said, “Of course.”

“Good. I don’t want to be in trouble right now.”

“No trouble.” Clarice stood up. John’s backside perched in the air while his head and arm fumbled under the couch searching for his phone. The back of his t-shirt was wrinkled, and the bottom of his right jeans pocket had earned a small hole from the pointy corner of his wallet.

“You’re not leaving because you’re mad, are you? Because I want to relax?”

“Just going to the bathroom. I want to check my hair.”

John finally retrieved his phone and studied her from his position on the carpet next to the faded red wine stain. She must have been mostly present because he didn’t shout out or act confused. Most of her must be visible.

“Your hair is lovely.”

“Thank you.”

In the bathroom, Clarice examined the mirror. Her hair was lovely, falling in soft umber waves around her translucent head. She was not entirely solid, almost ethereal. She didn’t notice any gray hairs.

Raising her missing hands in front of her, the mirror reflected her fuzzy face and the geometric wallpaper behind her. Was this stress? Was she hallucinating? Or was she exposed to some unknown chemical and becoming a superhero? Invisigirl sounded too much like Invisalign.

Who would buy a bobblehead of a dental product?

Clarice furrowed her brow as she considered her options.

Her girlfriends would tell her this was a good thing. Sneak into the movies for free and not seem like a loner sitting by yourself. Walk down the street without anyone ogling or catcalling. Go for walks at night, anywhere, alone, safe.

The thought of it made Clarice feel relieved and content, and she shifted back to solid visibility.

“Ah, there you are.”

Clarice smiled at herself in the mirror, crinkles fanning from her eyes. She wondered if John minded her aging very much.

“Claire?” John’s muffled voice came from the other side of the bathroom door. She smiled, touched that he’d come to check on her.

“Claire? Do we have any more pistachios? The spicy ones?”

“Yes,” Clarice said, her head fading like smoke. “In the pantry. Third shelf down. Left side.”

John left to find his snacks while Clarice disappeared. She was fine with both of those things. She opened the bathroom door and could hear John rummaging around in the wrong cabinet.

“Claire, I think we’re out.”

“Don’t miss any more of the game. I’ll run out and grab you some.” Clarice was looking forward to walking alone in the moonlight.

A multicolored man's head that has been separated in half and are barely connected to each other.

Sucker Punch

by Zero Ramos Laforga

Colleen Markley has been published in multiple anthologies and magazines. Colleen was named the June 2021 winner of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Humor Writer of the Month, was awarded the Nickie’s Prize for Humor Writing, and is a regular contributor riffing on the zodiac for Dharma Direction.

Zero Ramos Laforga is a Bay Area born and raised musician, poet, and artist. His visual work is inspired by Bay Area graffiti, printmaking traditions, and tattoo art.

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