| Fiction |

The Invisibles

“Neshei Hisachdus HaKehillos proudly presents the first-ever Succah Supreme Contest! Think you’ve got the fanciest succah in town? Let your friends be the judge!”

New York Times, Aug. 11, 2023
FDA Approves Invisibility Drug; Ethicists Voice Concern

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After reviewing clinical trial results, the FDA has decided to grant approval to AntiVIS, the so-called invisibility drug. Developed using transformation optics research,  the drug works by bending molecular particles in a person’s bodily field to create an optical distortion.

Ethicists immediately voiced concern, insisting that the drug should be first studied extensively for its moral ramifications before being released to the public. But the FDA, which emphasizes that AntiVIS can only be acquired with a doctor’s prescription, agreed with the arguments of civil liberties groups that an individual’s right to become invisible legally trumps society’s need to see every one of its members.

“This is a proud day for people everywhere who care about the individual’s right to live his life as he sees fit — or doesn’t see, as  the case may be,” quipped Norton Freewheeler, ACLU spokesperson.

 

“This has gone too far!” I crumple up the flyer and throw it on to the desk.

Breindy looks up from her computer and reaches over to uncrumple the paper. “Whaddaya got against my flyer, huh? Do you know how long it took to work those orchids into the sechach?”

I make a face. “No offense to your design. But a succah contest?!” I pick up another flyer — I’ve got a whole stack on my desk, waiting to be folded and mailed. My boss has this thing about snail mail. She says in today’s day and age, when we’re inundated with digital ads, people pay more attention to a paper they can actually hold.

I grimace as I look at the flyer. “Neshei Hisachdus HaKehillos proudly presents the first-ever Succah Supreme Contest! Think you’ve got the fanciest succah in town? Let your friends be the judge! The succah with the most votes wins! Go to Hisachdus.org/Supreme_succahs to enter and let the fun begin!”

Breindy is chuckling. “I think it’s a cute idea.”

“Cute? As if we don’t have enough financial peer pressure… why in the world would our community leadership be encouraging us to compete over our succahs?”

Breindy shrugs. “No one’s being forced to compete. And hey, at $15 per succah entry fee, it will help cover the expense of providing needy families with chicken.”

I snort. “Just watch. Once the word gets out, and everyone starts posting their pictures, we’ll all have to be part of it. And I’ll be forced to spend hundreds of dollars on ridiculous fixtures and wall hangings and accessories for my succah so my kids don’t feel deprived.”

My frown deepens as I picture my Tzivi, hands on her hips, declaring, “There’s no way in the world we’re having guests with our succah looking like this. Do you know that Shevy’s family put a fountain in theirs? And Leah has—” I can see myself interrupting her, trying to explain that this is not the way our family does things, but even in my imagination, she’s ignoring me.

“So speak up!” Breindy says. “Go tell Rebbetzin Goldenberg and Riva how you feel. They haven’t started publicizing it yet. If you feel so strongly, maybe they’ll listen to you.”

“Maybe pigs will fly,” I mutter.

I’ve been working for the Hisachdus — the organization that oversees nearly every important institution in our community — for 13 years now, and the directors have never once considered my opinion about anything.

Still, with Breindy’s encouragement, I walk down the hall and knock on Riva’s office door.

“Come in!”

Rebbetzin Goldenberg is inside talking to Riva. I feel my stomach knotting.

 

“Ah, Toby!” Riva’s eyes brighten. “Finished with the envelopes already? I wish I was as efficient as you!” She smiles indulgently as she says this, and I recognize the condescending compliment.

Okay, maybe I’m just a lowly secretary instead of the head of the organization. But does she really think she can flatter me by praising my envelope-stuffing speed?

“No, I haven’t finished yet. But I wanted to talk to you about this contest.”

“Don’t worry, our employees can enter.” Rebbetzin Goldenberg chuckles.

I take a breath. “I don’t think we should do this.”

Both women stare at me. It’s a stare that seems to take in my entire persona, from my old, flattened sheitel to my scuffed, sensible shoes, and then looks back up in wonder as if to say, She thinks she knows better than us?

“Why not?” asks Riva.

My heart is hammering, but I push myself to explain to them the problems I see. Maybe it doesn’t come out as clearly, or maybe they just don’t take me very seriously. Either way, they’re quick to dismiss my opinion.

“You’re sweet to worry, Toby, but really, this isn’t a concern at all.” Riva waves her hand. “The women who are into these things will be doing it anyway, and the others won’t.”

“This is one of the most brilliant fundraiser ideas we’ve had in a long time,” Rebbetzin Goldenberg adds, and from the way Riva coughs modestly, I can tell it was hers. “And think how great it will be for community spirit.”

“But—” I try again, because I really think they’re wrong, but now they’re both shaking their heads.

“Appreciate you bringing this up, Toby, but it’ll be fine.” Riva reaches out to pat my shoulder. “You just worry about getting those envelopes out, so we can publicize this already. Don’t forget, the post office closes at five.”

I grit my teeth. “I know that.” I trudge back to my desk.

“How’d it go?” Breindy asks brightly. “Did they agree to can the contest?”

I stare suspiciously at her. Is even she making fun of me?

“Yeah, right. They didn’t take me seriously one bit.”

I automatically begin folding flyers as I sit down. “Ever feel like you’re completely invisible?”

“No.” She smirks. “But they do.”

She’s been scrolling through her phone as I’ve been talking, and now she hands it to me. “Look at this wacky video my sister sent.”

I see an elephant tearing down a city street as cars swerve out of its way.

“Escaped from the zoo?” I ask.

“From the circus. And he didn’t escape — he was stolen.”

I laugh. “How do you manage to steal an elephant without getting caught?”

“You manage it if you’re invisible. Take a closer look — there are people riding that thing. You can see one of them waving a circus flag. Another’s wearing a clown hat.”

I look more closely and see a flag and a clown hat hovering in the air above the elephant’s back.

And then a reporter appears on the scene. “AntiVIS was marketed by its manufacturers as a psychiatric medicine, to be used for mental healing purposes. But it appears that many people are managing to buy it without a prescription. And, as this, er, elephant-sized joyride behind me makes clear, the proliferation of invisible people is causing a big headache for law enforcement officials.”

I look at Breindy. “AntiVIS?”

She rolls her eyes. “Come on, Toby, have you been hiding on Mars this past month? That’s the name of the new invisibility drug.” She takes the phone back. “Sounds kinda cool, actually.”

I raise my eyebrows. “What, a bunch of vilde chayes being able to do whatever they want?”

Breindy leans back in her swivel chair. “Imagine if no one could see you. You come home from work, and your kids don’t even realize you’re there. Go take a bath for an hour, who’ll know?” She stretches out her arms luxuriously, then sits up, a glint in her eyes.

“Or you can sneak into Rivka Edelstein’s home and make sure that your daughter’s card is placed at the top of Mrs. Hoity-Toity-Shadchan’s pile.” She winked. “Not that I’m suggesting I’d do that, or anything. But the possibilities are endless!”

I rub my thumb on the desk. I often complain that I feel invisible — but what if I were really invisible? Would I have had more confidence when speaking to the big bosses just now if they couldn’t see me? Wouldn’t that have totally changed the balance of power? Or I could have sat in on the planning meeting, unseen, and then done what I could to nip the idea in the bud?

“How does it work?” I ask, casually.

“Apparently, you take a tablet, and the drug goes through your body and erases you, or something. Then, when you want to turn visible again, you pop a different pill, and it paints back in all your color. Simple as anything.”

I blink. “Sounds like magic.”

Breindy laughs. “And this isn’t magic?” She waves her phone in the air. “There are all these scientific thingies the pill does inside your body, just like there are tiny microchips inside my phone sending out invisible waves that reach halfway across the world. Call it magic, if you want, it’s all the same to most of us.”

I go back to folding flyers into envelopes. Don’t forget, the post office closes at five. As if I didn’t know. As if I haven’t been a dedicated, responsible worker for the past 13 years, since back when the Hisachdus was running out of Rabbi Goldenberg’s basement, and Riva was still a shrieky G.O. president.

“It’s a new generation,” Rebbetzin Goldenberg had said, as she’d explained to us office staff why she’d chosen to take on such a young administrator. “We need someone who gets the millennial crowd.”

Yeah, it’s all about them. All about the young people and their desire for fun (elephants, for goodness’ sake!), for things and more things, and who cares about the price, it’s my generation who’s footing the bill.

And now we’re going to have a succah contest.

I throw another sealed envelope on the pile. “Someone has to do something about this!” I burst out.

“What, those crazy invisible teens?” Breindy asks. “Don’t worry, the police are on it.”

“No, this!” I wave the flyer.

Breindy laughs. “So go start a protest.”

“Yeah, and lose my job.”

“Not if you do it invisibly!” She wiggles her eyebrows. I snort. I’m not the type to start a protest. You need someone with leadership, guts, charisma.

I fold another paper as I replay my conversation with Riva and Rebbetzin Goldenberg. What’s the difference between them and me? Is it really that they’re so much smarter? Or just that they have self-confidence, and I don’t? What if no one could see me? Would I suddenly have as much self-confidence as them?

“Theoretically speaking… if someone wanted to get this pill without a prescription… I assume it’s being sold by inner city drug pushers? Like, no one in the frum community—”

Breindy’s lips curl. “You are so cute, Toby. Of course you can get it in the frum community! It hasn’t really taken hold yet, because, you know, it’s too goyish, and because it’s hard to go invisible in a community when everyone knows each other. But I hear there are some New Agey, alternative medicine types who are peddling it.”

“How do I—” I begin without thinking, then clamp my mouth in horror. “I mean, theoretically speaking, who would one speak to—”

Breindy looks mighty amused. “My sister knows all these things,” she says, texting her. Sure enough, a minute later, she’s handing me a piece of paper with a name and address. “Bring lots of cash,” she advises.

 

Trish speaks in a low, breathy voice and calls me “hon.” She ushers me into a small room behind her garage, which has dim, colored lighting and a bunch of interesting-smelling plants

“Glad you came, hon,” she says, after gazing intently at me. “So you want to be invisible.”

I shift in my chair and laugh nervously. It sounds so childish.

“Don’t worry, hon. Everyone’s doing it. I’ve gone invisible already three times. It’s the most heavenly feeling.” She lifts her eyes toward the ceiling. “It’s a total spiritual experience — just you and Him.”

I clear my throat. “But is it safe?”

“One hundred percent.”

I hesitate. I’m thinking of the video I saw, and wondering if I’m making the right choice. “Do you think it’s fair to become invisible? I mean, if everyone were invisible, what would happen to society?”

The absurdity of looking to Trish for hashkafic guidance won’t hit me until I’m well out of her house. Right now, her eyes are boring into me. “Hon, you’re listening too much to those media fools. Don’t let them control your mind.” She taps on her forehead. “You know the answer, it’s right inside you — if you could only quiet all that chatter.”

I try to silence my inner chatter so I can hear the answer that I already know. Trish helps me out by saying it herself. “We are all invisible already,” she intones. “Do you really see me? Do I really see you?”

I swallow. “Umm…”

“This pill is only the physical manifestation of the spiritual reality. But remember”—her eyes widen as she points upward—“He sees everything.”

I nod, entranced, as she pulls a box of chewable tablets out of her drawer.

“Cherry, lemon, or mint?” Her tone suddenly turns brisk.

I blink. “Lemon, please.”

I pay for a box, listen to her instructions (“Must be taken on an empty stomach. It can make you queasy at first, and trust me, hon, an invisible person throwing up is not a sight anyone wants to see”), and walk back to my car.

 

I pop the AntiVIS just as I pull into my driveway. The lemony flavor doesn’t quite hide the bitterness, and I chew quickly, wondering how long the process takes. I don’t have long to wonder. First to disappear is my stomach (and after all these years of stupid fad diets!); one second, there’s a comfortable bulge when I sit, and the next, I’m looking straight through to my legs. The pill’s effect soon makes its way out to my extremities, and within two minutes, I look in my dashboard mirror and don’t see a bit of myself.

Freaky isn’t the word.

I get out of the car, looking around to make sure there’s no one watching a car door open and close itself. I open my front door as quietly as possible and slip inside. I hear the kids shouting from the playroom. Usually they jump all over me, and I’m refereeing their fights as I get dinner ready. But now… I stick my head into the playroom and watch as Simi argues with Chezi over the Playmobil. Somehow, they work it out on their own.

I feel a delicious sense of freedom as I walk away. I stop in the kitchen, where Tzivi is staring into the fridge with a sour face. I can practically see the words forming on her lips — “There’s never anything to eat around here!” but — ha! — she has no motherly target. Instead, I take advantage of her head in the fridge to swipe the chocolate bar I’d hidden in the back of the pantry.

I can get used to this invisibility thing, I think an hour later, as I’m lying on my bed reading a magazine. At that moment, Simi shouts, “Ma! What’s for dinner?” I hear Tzivi yell back, “She hasn’t come home yet! Don’t you remember she said she has a meeting tonight?”

My meeting’s at nine, but I won’t quibble over her memory.

“Tzivi!” Simi instantly responds. “What’s for dinner? There’s nothing to eat around here!”

A mother shouldn’t delight over her teenage daughter getting it dished back to her, but ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. I stretch luxuriously.

 

Once a month, our shul hosts a ladies’ event. I don’t always go, and when I do, I sit on the side and listen to the conversation until the speaker arrives. But tonight, I’m going invisible.

The big news is the succah contest. The flyers are still in the mail, but digital word has already spread. I’m glad I spent my afternoon stuffing all those envelopes.

“Ladies, who’s going to enter?” Tzippora asks.

“You,” Malka answers her. “Yours is already the nicest in town. Don’t you hang a crystal chandelier from your sechach?”

“It’s not crystal,” Tzippora pooh-poohs modestly.

Suri sighs. “Well, we’re definitely not winning with my kids’ paper chains. Think I should tell them no homemade decorations this year?”

“I’ve already warned Dovid that we need to budget another $500,” Malka says.

Whaat?! “This is ridiculous!” I cry.

And instantly cause a stir.

“Who said that?”

Way to blow your cover, Toby. But no, they don’t know it’s me. They rarely hear my voice at these events. Still, to be safe, I make it lower and huskier — kind of Trish-like.

“I’m invisible — you’ve heard about the new pill, no?”

There are gasps all around. “I’ve never seen someone who was actually invisible!” says Tzippora. “Well,” she titters. “You know what I mean.”

“That is so cool!” adds Malka. “Can I touch you?” She reaches out a hand and I step away. Ahem. No.

And then comes the inevitable: “But who are you?”

I’m expecting this and I say my response suavely, much more suavely then my visible self ever would. “Sorry, ladies, but not saying. That’s the fun of being invisible, no?”

“Oooh, yes!” Suri breathes. By now, there’s a whole crowd gathered around. I decide the time is ripe for my stump speech.

“About the Neshei’s Succah Contest. Does anyone else here think they’re taking things too far? We have enough problems in our lives keeping up with everyone else when we make simchahs, buy clothing, even cook our Yom Tov menu! And now they’re telling us we also have to compete over who has the nicest succah?”

I hear myself in amazement. All the fire and passion that was missing when I spoke to Rebbetzin Goldenberg and Riva this afternoon is now brimming over in my speech. The women listen, wide-eyed.

“You’re absolutely right!” one woman cries. “Shouldn’t our leadership be working to solve our problems, rather than create new ones?”

“All they care about is their fundraising.” Another one shakes her head.

“I say we boycott!” declares a third.

There’s a general rumble of agreement. Tzippora starts to object, “I don’t know, guys, this sounded kinda fun,” but she quickly backs down.

Malka turns to where she thinks I am. “Thank you, whoever you are, for having the courage to speak up. If our leadership isn’t going to steer us right, well, then, it’s time for us little people to stand up to them!”

The speaker arrives then, but it’s very hard to settle down the crowd. And I’m shaking so much, I decide to leave. Once I get out into the fresh air, I take a deep breath.

Did I really just foment a boycott against my employer’s fundraising initiative?

This is nuts.

I am nuts.

The best part is, they’ll never know it was me.

 

Sociology Today, Sept. 3, 2023

The Invisible Revolution

Sociologists are already calling them the Eye-Gen — the generation of youngsters born after the invisibility drug.

Though still very new, it is already clear that AntiVIS is creating a cultural revolution. Relationships, personal property laws, privacy, free speech — all of these social constructs have had their boundaries pushed and redefined in the short time since the emergence of the drug.

Of particular interest to sociologists is the subset of people attracted to AntiVIS. While the pill was originally touted as a tool for psychiatric patients, it appears that the drug is giving us insight into a different psychological construct: accountability.

Those at one end of the accountability spectrum (“little to none”) have been quick to embrace the opportunity to become invisible, while those at the other end (“high to neurotic”) have been critical of what they call an enabling drug, that they claim has the power to destroy the fabric of society as we know it.

“If one or two people choose to be invisible, they’re just a danger to themselves and a few others,” warns Lisa Masterson, PhD, author of The Seamstress Conundrum: When Societal Fabric Gets Ripped Beyond Repair. “But once these AntiVISers spread to a critical mass, then it threatens society as a whole.”

 

It doesn’t take long for the boycott of the succah contest to reach the ears of my bosses.

“I’d stay out of Riva’s way if I were you,” Breindy says when I come in. “Grouchy isn’t the word.”

I stop in my tracks. “Why?”

“Hah, like you don’t know.” Breindy raises her eyebrows. “Apparently people haven’t taken so well to their brilliant fundraiser idea. They’ve started an online group to boycott the contest, and it’s gotten really nasty, really fast. There are lots of angry people out there who’re suddenly remembering all the problems they have with the Hisachdus. Take a look…”

She reads from her phone, first checking to make sure no one is around  .

“Typical of the Hisachdus to think only of the rich! It’s about time we stand up to the corrupt leadership.”

“Now they’re telling us what to do with our succahs? We’ve had enough of a few power-hungry people dictating the rules to our entire community!”

“Finally, the silent majority is fighting back! What’s next after this boycott?”

I listen in horror. “What?” I splutter. “Corrupt? Power-hungry? No way! Fine, they were off-key here with this idea and, yes, it’s frustrating that they don’t take my opinions seriously, but the Goldbergers are two of the most idealistic, dedicated people I know.”

“Know what they’ve called themselves, this group? The Invisibles.” Breindy looks at me meaningfully. “Wonder where they got that name?”

I feel my face drain of color. “No!” I whisper. But I wonder what I’m trying to deny here. Breindy knows I wanted to start a protest. She knows I bought those pills. My heart starts to hammer. She wouldn’t tell them, would she?

“Breindy, I never meant this!”

“Don’t worry, Clark Kent, your secret’s safe with me,” she drawls. “But, yeah, funny how brave people suddenly get about criticizing our leaders when they can do it all anonymously.”

 

Over the next two weeks, things move from bad to nauseating. I can’t even bear to read the venom people are now posting, but Breindy kindly keeps me in the loop by reading the particularly vicious posts out loud. Meanwhile, the vibe in our office has become funereal, and I’ve taken to avoiding the directors as much as possible.

But I can’t avoid Riva right now, because she’s standing next to my desk. “Good morning, ladies.” Riva’s voice sounds lifeless, and as I look at her, I feel a wave of pity.

She pulls up a chair next to my desk. “Toby, I need to speak to you,” she says, and for a moment, my heart stops. She knows! Then I remind myself that it’s impossible.

“Yes?” I ask, trying to still my shaking voice.

She puts a hand on my desk, and I marvel at her posture — how can she still look so self-confident, even when under social media attack?

“I assume you heard what’s been going on in the community.” She looks at me. “First, I owe you an apology. You were right the other day. You read the people better than I did.”

Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I didn’t read them, Riva; I LED them. I told them what to think. What’s crazy is that even as I feel this guilt knifing a hole inside me, I’m also feeling insanely powerful. Yes, I told them what to think, and they listened. Who would’ve believed it?

I shrug modestly, for once not turning to jelly in front of her. “Yeah, well… I’m sorry this caused so much damage for you.”

From next to me, I hear Breindy grunt softly.

“Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldenberg and I feel that what we need to do now is call an open meeting for the whole community, so we can discuss these issues publicly, and restore everyone’s trust in us. And it needs to happen as soon as possible.”

She leans forward. “Can you make it happen? Reserve a hall? Check if the Ateres social hall’s available. Then, send out notices on all the local lists. I’ll get you the exact wording.”

“No problem, Riva. It should be with hatzlachah.”

I flash her what has to be the sickliest smile ever. Inside, I’m feeling like a horrible hypocrite.

 

By the evening of the meeting, I’ve worked out my strategy. I’m going to go invisible again, and when people start complaining at the meeting about the Hisachdus, I’ll introduce myself as the person who started this protest, and then explain that I never meant to spark a war against the Hisachdus itself. I’ll talk about how much good they do, and how much I admire them. I’ll use my newfound persuasive powers to restore peace.

What’s funny is that I am totally confident that I can do this. Crazy what a game-changer a simple invisibility pill can be.

The first inkling I have that things won’t go as smoothly as I’d planned is when I step into the hall. It’s already a few minutes after eight by the time I arrive,  but, other than the Hisachdus administrators sitting in the front of the room, there are only a few other people scattered throughout the large hall. Was there a call to boycott this meeting as well?

I make my way slowly into the nearly empty room. The odd thing is, it doesn’t feel empty. You know the stillness, the airiness, of a large, empty space? Well, this hall feels the opposite — it feels full, somehow, and there’s this electric buzz in the air. I’m trying to figure it out as I sit down on a chair near the front of the room — and immediately jump up again with a yelp.

“Hey, watch it. This seat’s taken!” says a female voice — an invisible female voice.

And then I get it.

The Invisibles.

They’ve all gone and done it.

The magnitude of what I’ve done finally hits me. I haven’t merely staged a protest against an event. I haven’t even initiated a process to destroy a very good institution. I’ve started an all-out revolution.

I look up at the front of the room, wondering if Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldenberg even realize what’s going on. Someone has to tell them… I spot Breindy, her beautiful, visible self, walking up the aisle, and I quickly run over and tap her on the shoulder.

It must look strange, the way she suddenly jumps up into the air. But I quickly whisper to her, and she gives me the thumbs-up and hurries to the dais. I watch Rabbi Goldenberg’s face turn bewildered. The expression is still there as he hesitantly steps up to the podium and taps the mic.

“Ahem. I was just informed that, contrary to appearances, there’s actually a packed house here tonight.” His face clouds. “I don’t understand, as Yidden, why we would want to imitate the goyim. Especially when our gedolim have come out against this AntiVIS pill…”

He clears his throat.

“Anyway, good evening, and thank you for coming tonight. We called this meeting because it seems there’s some misinformation being spread about us, and we want to address any rumors, or ill will. Let me start at the beginning, and go back to why our Hisachdus was originally started.”

Rabbi Goldenberg is usually very poised when he speaks, but I see that he’s thrown by the fact that he’s speaking to a crowd he can’t see. He keeps pulling at his beard, and he even removes his glasses at one point to wipe off the moisture. My heart goes out to him, especially because I’m already hearing an angry rumble around me.

“Yeah, right, he was ‘asked’ by rabbanim to start the organization! Show me these so-called rabbanim!”

“Does he take us for idiots?”

And then, to my horror, the rumbling gets louder, until it’s a mighty thunder of shouts and protests that interrupts Rabbi Goldenberg as he’s speaking.

“Why don’t you tell us the truth, Rabbi?” someone shouts. “How much money do you take as salary?”

“Isn’t it time someone reviews your books?” another yells. “Where’s the accountability here?”

“Accountability! We want accountability!”

The cry gets taken up across the room. I watch Rabbi Goldenberg’s face grow pale, watch him step back from the podium, cowed in the face of hundreds of invisible voices screaming for his blood.

Now! I tell myself. Though no one can see me, I stand up, trembling all over.

“People!” I scream as loudly as I can. “Please! Let’s calm down!” I walk to the front of the room, hoping my voice will carry. “Listen to me!” I plead. But no one hears.

Out of desperation, I walk over to the mic Rabbi Goldenberg just vacated. “Folks, a moment, please.”

The shock of an invisible person speaking at the podium has its effect.

“I want to introduce myself,” I begin. My voice is shaking, partly from nerves, and partly from the fear that the people on the dais will recognize it. I take a long breath and do the same low-pitched, Trish voice I did the other night.

“I’m the person who started the succah contest protest,” I say. “But — but, I never planned for it to grow into this. I’ve known the Hisachdus for many years, and I know what a wonderful organization it is, and how dedicated Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldenberg are to our community. Please, let’s take a moment for hakaras hatov, and stop this shouting before it turns into something we’ll regret.”

There, I said it. Proud of myself, I wait for my speech to have its effect.

The effect lasts all of three seconds. Before I know it, the shouting has continued, as if I hadn’t said anything at all. Feeling weak-kneed, I turn around. I see Rabbi Goldenberg looking dazed, Rebbetzin Goldenberg white, Riva with her head in her hands.

I feel wild with helplessness. I’ve unleashed a monster, and I have no way of reining it in. I stumble back down the aisle, shouts surrounding me. In desperation, I go to Breindy, sitting two rows back on the side.

“Breindy, why aren’t they listening to me? What do I do now?”

Breindy looks in my direction and shakes her head ever so slightly. “Toby, seriously? You really don’t know the answer?”

I’m reminded suddenly of Trish: “You know the answer, it’s right inside you, if you could only quiet all that chatter.” I slump against the wall, and put my head in my hands — my invisible head, my invisible hands, my invisible humanity, listening to the chants of “We want accountability!”

And, suddenly, I know the answer.

Before I can think, before I lose my nerve, I run out to my car, open my purse and pop the lemon-flavored VIS pill. I don’t even wait for my body to become fully visible again before running inside. Now everyone is staring at me, and I can’t blame them; I must look like an impressionistic painting, or like a watercolor with just a bit too much water.  But I make my way to the front of the room, up to the podium where a shocked Riva has raised her head, and take a breath.

“Hi , folks. I’m going to try this a second time. Let me introduce myself. I’m the one who started the succah contest protest…”

 

CNN.com, Dec. 13, 2023

Supreme Court to Hear Groundbreaking Legal Case of Invisible Man vs. State of Vermont

The case of Invisible Man v. State of Vermont has gripped the nation for the past few weeks. The defendant, known as Invisible Man, was caught stealing from the Golden Touch, a Newport-area  jewelry store. When the police apprehended him, the man protested that he’d taken the AntiVIS pill and thought he was invisible.

In a precedent-setting legal argument, his lawyers claim that, since the man identified at the time of the crime as invisible, he should be treated as invisible, rendering him unidentifiable for prosecution.

Now the Supreme Court has announced that it will be hearing the case, which, legal observers on both sides of the argument agree, will have deep implications for the very definition of what it means to be a human being.

In related news, Invisible Man’s lawyers have filed suit against EyePharma, the company that manufactures AntiVIS, for the damages their defective pill has caused their client.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 663)

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Tagged: Family Tempo