It’s the small moments, the microscopic ones that flay Jane the hardest. The ones she’ll remember for the rest of her life, even if no one else will — even if no one else notices. It’s the group of boys who descend upon her and Caroline at the party, their gazes and grins focused on her friend like they’re hunters who’ve just gotten their licensees for the season, and she’s just the right size for their prize kill. They preen and coax and and coo, eyes locked on Caroline’s face, her midriff, her shoulders, not realizing for one moment that Jane is standing there, that she exists at all.
This moment repeats itself in so many scenarios Jane can’t even keep track. Boys at parties are a given, but it’s also boys at school, and not even the self-sure jock types. The regular guys, even the nerds are infused with some sort of confidence, like they’ve taken a couple shots between second and third period and think they just might have a chance when in Caroline Lee’s presence. The guys who work behind the counters at restaurants and coffee shops; the boys they’ve never met before but suddenly become long-lost friends swarming them as Caroline and Jane walk past the basketball courts at the park.
No one is ever cruel to her. There’s no interrupting, no rolling of the eyes, no physically blocking her out of any given group, conversation, or scenario at all. It’s simply that she does not register. Her existence isn’t noticed by these budding men when they’re confronted with the force that is Caroline. She understands, of course. She thinks she does. Or she tries to, at least. But at the same time she knows it hurts in a way that’s deeper and more significant than simply being ignored. She feels invalidated and erased, but does not yet have the language to explain those feelings, even to herself. Yet there’s something prescient within her, something that understands that these moments, the ones no one else will remember, will leave her marked in some way.