Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 199

This week's picture prompt is by photographer Francesca Woodman. This is called this House #3, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976. She was an American/Italian artist who committed suicide in 1981 at age 22. She jumped off a building. She was in the midst of a depression, said to be caused by the lack of recognition for her art combined with the breakup of a relationship. From all her images I get the impression she didn't feel 'seen'. She created some really interesting pictures. It's such a shame.

Both the picture and the artist's personal story inspired my entry. 

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Black & White photograph of a woman whose top half is blured. Take by Francesca Woodman

Invisible

She sat there in the room, but they didn’t see her. It was like she was invisible. She’d considered that maybe she was a ghost and didn’t know she was dead yet, but she could feel her heartbeat, and the pain when she dug her nails into her wrists.

She imagined just floating right out of the room, imagining the freedom, rather than the obligation of having to remain seated here, surrounded by a group of people she barely knew, who had little interest in knowing her. But she didn’t do it for them, she did it for him.

And did he see her? She was beginning to doubt it, not when he was with them. Alone he saw her, endeavoured to interact, although it felt less and less.

It was like she was fading and she couldn’t stop it from happening. There was nothing here to tether her, to keep her connected. She’d drift off inside her own head and disassociate herself from the present moment; observe rather than engage. It felt cold and empty. She circled back to the ghost reference; she felt like she was dead here.

And as she sat there trying to fight her feelings, her gaze drifted to the window and the world outside. There was life out there: green, vivid, vibrant and tangible but for the glass. Now the analogy became that of a prison. She could see life, but she couldn’t touch it or embrace it, or walk within it, she was solely forced to watch and remain powerless.

She returned her view to the people sitting round the room. All pleasant in their own right, all civil when they needed to be, but not interested, not in her. She was not one of them. She sat on the outside, on the fringes. They were here for him.

He flashed a smile from across the room, behaving as though she was actually there as an active member of his group, engaged and not sitting alone in a corner watching, left alone by those sitting nearby who chose not to talk to her. She responded with a faint smile. He seemed unconcerned and went back to his conversation.

He’d seen her for a second, now she was gone.

She got up from her seat – no one looked. She moved over to the window and stood looking out. It was a large sash window and she lifted up the bottom half to let in the breeze and the sound of the birds. Outside the flat roof to the kitchen extension beckoned. She looked over her shoulder, no one saw her.

She put one foot through and then the other and stood there, waiting to see if someone came to ask her what she was doing. Nothing. She glanced back through. They were laughing about something that had happened ten years ago, long before she’d even met him. She pulled the window down.

She walked over to the edge of the roof and sat down on the edge, dangling her legs. She peeked over the edge. It wasn’t far down. If she jumped though, she might break something. She didn’t want to do that. There was a drainpipe and ledge from a window. She pushed the pipe with her foot, it didn’t move, so she clung onto the top and lowered herself down, wrapping round it. It held. She reached her foot out to the ledge, and edged onto it. Now she was low enough to jump.

It was nice to be on the ground and out in the garden, in the green. She walked into it. It opened into a field at the end. She went through and started walking, imagining herself disappearing like a wisp. Never to be seen again.

And he never did see her again. 


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