The Hiding Game

by Lisa Pavageau

   Once, when I was young I did something. Something you wouldn't believe. Not like a 6 year old believes! I disappeared.

   I was running through the department store, hiding from my parents in the huge round racks of clothes, so perfect for a little girl to get lost in! I didn't understand then, like I do now, that parents don't play the same games. They don't share that joy of becoming invisible. Of hiding quietly only a few feet away from that funny, almost mad, almost frightened voice of mommy or daddy.

   Oh, how I loved that game! Of course when it ended, as all games must, I was always spanked! Always held tightly by the arm and pulled roughly out of the way so my mother or father could point their finger in my face and tell me the horrible, terrible things that happened to bad little girls!

   The pain did not bother me. Even at six I had an incedible tolerance for physical discomfort. And mentally I would dream of new and better ways to send my parents and babysitters and teachers into fits of panic. I'd disappear for hours at a time, hiding a big department store, or in an old storeroom at school. I'd try to think of the very last places anyone would ever look for me and that's where I'd go! A little voice inside me would lead the way.

   There were special places, I realized early, where I could disappear anytime I wanted. And there were also certain places where I'd never be able to, no matter how hard I tried. Big stores, especially clothing stores were the best! They could hide me easily. All I had to do was get close to a place where I could disappear and I felt it reaching for me. Like my name was being called, wanting me to play the game. Sometimes I ignored it, I wanted the shiney new toy or piece of candy I'd been promised if I were good. But mostly I couldn't stop myself and I'd slip my parent's hand and be gone.

   When I was eight I tried something new; an experiment if you will. I left my mother looking at new sunglasses in the drugstore downtown. I moved behind the counter and hid myself in front of everyone! I stood still as could be in front of the big picture window and I willed myself invisible! It worked. I stayed there all that day and all that night just looking outside and listening to everyone search for me. The next morning I knew the game was over, I'd won. When I stepped back out of the game I was suddenly hungry and tired and had to pee really bad. I was rubbing my eyes and trying not to look too happy with my little trick when the policeman turned around and saw me just standing there. Him and the firemen and everyone asked me where I'd been, but I didn't tell. I never told!

   There were so many other times, each different, better than the last. I learned how to disappear in the blink of an eye. It was second nature to me by the time I was 12 and my parents had long since given up taking me anywhere. A succession of psychiatrists and counsellors, and child social workers had given up also. At least of trying to cure me. One doctor confessed he they didn't even know how to classify my disease. That's what he called it; a disease. Not a disorder, not a chemical imbalance. A disease and I was the only person in the world who had it! Just the thought of having my own disease, one that made a person disappear, made me almost giddy with happiness!

   And best of all I couldn't help it! I didn't feel very naughty about disappearing before and now I could do it all I wanted! "It's a disease Mommy! The Doctor said so!" I'd shout at the top of my lungs. "But it won't kill me Daddy. It'll just make me disappear one day and I'll never come back!" I would tell everyone I could about my disease. My classmates, my few friends, even total strangers. And if I thought they weren't being very interested in this rare, special disease, well, I'd just disappear! *PooF* Gone!

   Sometimes I knew how I did it. I could remember my feet getting heavy, my body getting smaller, or taller, or skinnier, or fatter. I knew I could change my hair, my clothing, even my skin color all in the time it takes someone to realize I'm not standing there anymore. I don't know exactly how it does this, or how to control it. It doesn't hurt, in fact, it feels kinda good. When I disappear I'm not hungry, or cold, or tired. I don't feel sad at all, I feel happy, like I'm finally where I belong.

   The doctors at the hospital kept asking me to disappear for them, but I never did. I was afraid to try because it didn't feel right. So I'd sit, quiet and sullen, refusing to answer their questions until they let me go. And they always did. But they gave me pills, so many pills to fight the voices in my head. They told my mommy not to take me to stores anymore. That what I needed was fresh air. To be outside with people, playing in the sun and snow and rain. Anything but inside where the voices called me to play the game.

   I've only been to the mall 3 times since I turned 13. I was 17 the last time I went. I had taken my pills and I thought the voices had gone away. I was in Sears, in the Young Miss sportswear section. I wasn't even thinking of disappearing when it happened. I felt the disease. Here, in my head. It grabbed me and shouted over the numbing yellow pills "HIDE!!" and I did. My legs stiffened and straightened. My body twisted slightly and my arms bent at the elbows, standing out from me in some unnatural act of giving. My hair became lighter, longer, and my face took on a blank smile. My eyes turned bright blue and my clothes became a spandex leotard. My purse was suddenly a gym bag and I looked every bit the young urbanite on her way to the raquet club!

   Of course I wasn't moving! I could see my friends looking for me, moving around me without seeing me. To them I was just another mannequin, a statue of plastic and wire and paint. How could they know that I could see them, I could hear them. I almost thought I could feel them, but that of course was my imagination. My mannequin disguise would not feel anything, it would hold me safe until the game was over. Until the voice in my head told me I could go home. How long that would be I didn't know. And truthfully, I didn't really care.

   I had missed this so much! This feeling of peace I got from being a thing, an object. No one would spank me now! No one would pull my arm and yell in my face! No one would try to kiss me, or touch me, or make me believe that I needed to drink, or smoke, or do any of the things I didn't want to! I wouldn't compete with other girls and lose because my breasts were too small, or my hips were too skinny.

   No one would ignore me because I wasn't important enough! They'd ignore me because I wasn't important at all! And there's a big difference there if you think about it! I felt safe, like I always do. I've been here for 2 years now. Sometimes, late at night when no one is around. When the store is closed; I hear the voice tell me to change, to move, to hide even better. The voice never lies, it won't let me be hurt, because it knows even mannequins can be forgotten.

   The end.

   -Lisa P. (

   As a side note, I'm not really sure what that last sentence means. But it came out and sounded so cool I decided to leave it as the ending. I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks

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