Freddie waited anxiously for the post. He’d taken the day off work, called in sick, because he didn’t want to miss the delivery. He sat by the front door, afraid to go to the bathroom in case he missed it. Twice he opened the front door and checked the doorbell was working. Was it loud enough? Would he hear it if he went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea?
The phone rang startling him. It was his mate Robert, calling from work.
“Sup, dawg?” Robert drawled. Freddie laughed. Robert was the most strait-laced person he knew, always wore a tie no matter the context. To hear him appropriating American slang was never less than hilarious. “You sick, mate?”
Freddie essayed a cough.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” said Robert. “Honestly, what are you thinking? HR will be onto you, you know.”
“It’s important. Look, I’ll see you tomorrow, OK?”
“OK. You ‘feel better’, OK?”
But Robert had already disconnected. Freddie could picture him at his desk, fretting over being complicit in the lie. Well, I didn’t ask him to call me, did I?
Freddie was so lost in thought he almost missed the doorbell and the subsequent knocking at the door.
“Parcel for you,” said the postman. “Sign here.”
Freddie wiggled his finger over the touchpad. The resulting scrawl looked nothing like his signature but the postman went away happy. Freddie shut the door and even locked it. Stupid, he scolded himself. There’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of.
He tore open the box and delved his hand into the polystyrene packaging chips. He pulled out a padded envelope. He tore that open. Inside was a small packet, like a sachet of seeds.
“X-B-Gone” it said. Freddie frowned, disappointed. Somehow, he had expected more.
He opened the packet and poured a small tablet onto his palm. “Take one a day” said the instructions, “or whenever you feel the situation requires.”
He swallowed the pill dry. Nothing happened. Perhaps it takes a while to kick in…
An hour later, he was outside Debbie’s house. He hadn’t been there for years. Not since the break-up. He’d finished it. Debbie was a lovely girl, but she was too needy, too over-bearing. It had taken months for her to let him go. It had bordered on stalking.
Steeling himself, he rang the bell.
“Freddie?” gasped the woman who answered.
“Hello, Mrs Grant. Is Debbie in?”
Mrs Grant looked concerned. “I suppose…” She backed away. Freddie shifted his weight from foot to foot. He heard Mrs Grant call, “Debbie! There’s – someone – to see you.”
And there she was, still looking great. She stood on the doorstep, frowning and looking in all directions. “Hello?” she called out, glancing up and down the street. Then she shrugged and closed the door. Freddie heard her say, “You’re losing it, Mum. There’s no one there.”
Freddie laughed. It worked! He was now invisible to his ex!
The next day, he went for after-work drinks with Robert.
“Glad to see you’re feeling better,” Robert said stiffly, “Listen, mate. I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve invited someone along, I hope you don’t mind.”
Freddie shrugged. He didn’t mind. He was finally free of Debbie and her weird behaviour and that was all that mattered.
“Here she is now,” Robert got to his feet and waved across the bar. “This is Shelley. I think you may have already met.”
Freddie gasped. Shelley! Of all the girls he’d known, she had been closest to being The One. Shelley was perfection on legs. Everything had been great between them. Beautiful, intelligent Shelley. How lovely to see her again! Perhaps she’ll see she’s wasting her time with Robert and will give me another chance…
A chair pulled itself away from the table. Robert rubbed his eyes.
There was nobody there.