AS THE INVISIBLE MAN THOUGH LESS VISIBLE
by Samantha Hunt
I am the youngest of six children. Astrologically, Saturn returns into a person's house on a 29-year cycle. It's a havoc wreaker. My siblings have all passed through their Saturn house. But I haven't. I'm the youngest. They have found their special purposes. I haven't.
We go to the movies together and get 12 seats even though I'm not married, not even dating anyone except Elijah the Prophet. I met Elijah at a Passover Seder. He sat next to me because I didn't have a date. Few people at the party, in fact, no one, could see him. Elijah the Prophet is invisible.
At the movies, when my family gets tired of the tub of popcorn, they put it in Elijah's seat and I pretend I'm not too bothered that its always my boyfriend who has to be the stand-up man, has to hold the greasy container.
After the movie my oldest sister tries talking to Elijah. "Were you scared when the bad guy was hiding in the pantry?" she asks him. But Elijah doesn't answer.
When we get home Elijah is quiet. He is still quiet when we go to bed. I think, quietly, maybe he is receiving his prophesy. Maybe his prophesy has something to do with my special purpose. Eventually, most every night, I get tired of waiting for him to tell me what that special purpose might be. Most every night it feels like I am alone even when I am with him.
But then I think I hear him say, "Don't worry baby," or, "Tonight is the night we eat reclining," or, "I don't care if you're not Jewish." I exhale. Never holding or beholding him, it is lonely work.
One of my sisters calls. She wants to set me up on a blind date. After some thought I decline the offer. "I already have a boyfriend," I tell her. I already have a blind date. Though my date is not blind, invisible is near blind, like a neighbor. My sister won't call back for a few weeks. She will spend that time throwing her arms in the air, saying, "I tried to help her." That is part of her special purpose.
"Elijah?" I ask in the middle of the night. "Will you hug me?"
I wait. I think I feel something.
"Elijah?" I ask. "Is that you?" After waiting awhile longer I begin to realize that chances are Elijah went to the kitchen for a glass of water and once there he was distracted by the window. He went to investigate something shimmering outside, something like neon, or gold, or streetlight or communication with the divine.
After being in love with Elijah the Prophet I would Ūnd it impossible to return to dating mortals. But still I think about how one day we'll probably break up, then I picture it, having a normal husband and maybe children. I can see how, at the breakfast table, I would torture my mortal husband with what Elijah has taught me: the truth of our pure loneliness.
And that is why I love Elijah. He never tries to cover up this truth. I say to him, "Pass the ice tea," or, "Do you want to dance?" or "If you love me, reveal yourself," and his answer is always the same, each word of it invisible.