Noodles O’Callahan is a bright, good-natured 8-year-old boy. He is a third grader at John Q. Poindexter Elementary School in Tupelo, Mississippi. He likes ice cream and pizza, loves his 2 pet dogs and dreams of one day becoming an astronaut. He is a healthy, happy young man who suffers from one terrible problem that deeply effects every aspect of his life. You see, Noodles is invisible.
Invisiblilty may seem to be a strange ailment for a young person to have, but it’s more common then you know. 1 in every 10,000 Americans are born invisible. These young people often are made to feel different and unwanted. In many cases, invisible children are ignored by everyone in their lives including their parents. People bump into them without bothering to apologize, they are never picked to play games with the other kids and in some cases they are not even picked up from school. People simply forget about them. Noodles is one of the forgotten. This is his story.
Noodles was in my kindergarten class three years ago. They train you for all different types of scenarios when you are at the Academy. You know how to deal with loud, aggressive children, you know how to deal with the ones who struggle to learn to read, you know how to work with the shy ones, but they never tell you how to teach an invisible child.
At first, I let Noodles keep to himself, ignored and avoided by other children. One student even stepped on his foot and did not apologize or even acknowledge he had done it. I let Noodles play quietly in the corner for a few hours, but after a while I couldn’t take it. I started calling on him during class discussions only to be met by an icy silence. The other students were perplexed as to why I was calling on a student that they claimed wasn’t even there. I was called into Principal Murphy’s office. When he asked me why I was talking to a student that didn’t exist, I nearly hit the roof. How dare he dismiss Noodles’ existence!!! What gaul the man had! I exploded at him. The nerve! To just pretend an invisible student didn’t exist was the worst crime an educator could commit in my eyes.
After that, I took an unscheduled vacation. I spent a lot of time around the house thinking about what had happened. Surprisingly, Noodles started showing up at my front door at 8 AM everyday rain or shine. He should have been in school, but I think he felt like he’d be better off spending time with and adult who actually paid attention to him. He would come in and have tea while we discussed what it was like to be invisible. That was nice. It made me feel like I was making a difference.
All of a sudden, things started to get very weird. Furniture started moving around my apartment. I knew he was breaking in to my house when I was asleep and trying to intentionally confuse me. He would start hiding things in places I’d never bother to look. My keys showed up in a flower pot, my wallet showed up in a pair of pants I hadn’t worn in months. One day, I woke up with a bloody knife in my hand. I have no idea how it got there. Noodles must have done it!
I spent hours in the interrogation room trying to tell my story to the police. They simply didn’t believe me. They claimed that I had stabbed Mr. Morganfield and put his head in my own refrigerator. In spite of the fact that Mr. Morganfield was a secret disciple of the Pod People and was planning to begin infecting the human race with a DNA altering virus, I would have never harmed him. Clearly, Noodles received the same information as me and simply acted on it. He had a good amount of pent up rage from years of being unnoticed and must have just snapped.
I now spend most of my days in a heavily medicated stupor eating different varieties of Jell-o. Noodles still comes to visit me. He snuck into my cell last night and began singing old Duke Ellington tunes. I told the guards to shut him up. They just looked at me like I was crazy.
These invisible children walk among us everyday. They are forgotten and unloved. Three years of eating Jell-o and staring at old episodes of Gunsmoke gives you a lot of time to think. When I am released in the year 2041, I plan on dedicating my life to helping them. Their story doesn’t have to end up like this. Help them. For Noodles. For me.