NOBODY NOTICES ME • by Matthias R. Gollackner

So here I am, standing in line at the bank. It’s a long line, and I’m caught somewhere in the middle. I’ve been waiting too long to leave but not long enough to justify an outburst. There’s a lady at the teller right now with absolutely no idea what she’s doing. I can’t hear everything they’re talking about; everybody is talking in hushed voices. The best I can make out, the teller is trying to explain that the woman has failed to pay her bill on time. The woman can’t seem to understand this. I hate people like her. People like her don’t notice me. No one does.

There’s coffee in a dispenser off to the side, Styrofoam cups, creamers, sugar packets. A plate of cookies sits beside it. People are staring at the tantalizing free food, not intently, but periodically. It’s obvious that they want it. I want it. But there’s always been something about free food in strange settings. Nobody feels right getting it unless somebody else does. Where did it become ingrained in our human nature that we can’t deviate from the herd? I hate human nature. I hate people. People notice the free food that nobody will touch. But people don’t notice me.

Behind the counter an older lady with a limp shuffles across the floor to help the woman who can’t seem to understand the importance of paying a goddamn bill. They exchange words, the late payer becomes agitated. She explodes in a rage, screaming about how the bankers don’t understand. “Money grabbers!” she exclaims. “Preying on the weak and the poor!” Her own fault if you ask me. Pay your goddamn bill, lady. She storms out of the bank, glass door hitting the door stop hard enough to shake, not hard enough to shatter. I’m a little disappointed. I’ve never seen a glass door shatter. Everybody noticed her display. Everybody would have noticed the shattering door. Nobody notices me.

“Next, please.” The teller says. The line is moving again. It isn’t long before I reach the counter. I pull out a couple of checks I need to deposit, and a couple of bills to pay. The lady behind the counter asks for my bank card, asks me to punch in a pin number. The pin pad is warm to the touch, pleasant on my fingers considering the cold I’ve been feeling outside all day. I realize the pin pad is only warm because of the constant touch of other fingers all day. The thought of this repulses me. I’ve noticed the touch of other fingers. Nobody notices mine.

The sound of the printer buzzes as my receipt is printed. Suddenly there’s a loud banging noise behind me; it makes my ears ring. There’s an uproar from the crowd. I hear a child crying. A rough voice yells for everybody to get down. I make a run for the help desk and hide behind it. I can see a man wearing a ski mask with a duffel bag and a handgun, smoke still rising from the barrel. Everybody notices him. He seems to be aware of everybody else. Nobody notices me.

My heart begins to race. I realize I am in the position to do something here. He moves for the teller. I slink out from my hiding place, his back is to me. I make a run for him as he’s instructing the teller to fill his bag. He turns in time to see me, but not in time to stop me. I tackle him hard, his head hits the counter, and we fall to the ground. His gun slides across the room. I hit him in the face. He hits me back, Harder. I’m knocked off of him. He gets on top of me now. He doesn’t have his gun, but I know he’ll kill me. I close my eyes tight and cover my face. Another gunshot cuts through the chaos and the man in the ski mask falls off of me instantly. A man in a business suit holding the robbers gun stands motionless and expressionless. The crowd in the bank erupts into cheers. They praise him, pat his shoulders. They point to the body. Everybody notices the man in the suit. Everybody notices the robber. Everybody notices whichever man is holding the gun. Nobody notices me.

“Thank you,” the teller says as she tears the receipt from the printer, bringing me out of my daydream and back into reality. I look at the teller who hands me the receipt. She isn’t looking at me. I notice her, handing me a pointless piece of paper, but she doesn’t notice me.

“Excuse me,” I say, as I jam my fingers into my coat pocket and point them over the counter, “I want it. All of it. Now.” Suddenly, everybody notices me. I smile.

Matthias R. Gollackner is a student studying English at the University of Toronto. His fiction often takes on a life of its own, branching from the mundane to the fantastical. He writes whenever he can, providing of course that he can wrestle his computer chair away from his over-sized cats.

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Every Day Fiction