The Unknown Woman, whom fortune chose to be the heroine of the following story, closed the door and found herself before the gray paving-stones of the Unnamed City. She had almond-shaped eyes which did not reflect the light because even though they could see, they had an odd blindness for some details. For that reason, they rarely expressed amazement or sadness as, , by the way, did the eyes of the other citizens of the Unnamed City. She was a woman with a past as she liked to say sometimes, she had lived through a war (of course by correspondence through the newspapers’ reports because the Unnamed City had never ever been at war with anybody) and she had also outlived a husband who had drowned during fishing season.
So now, as we get into our story, the Unknown Woman is a forty-year-old lady who in her spare time, and I can assure you that she has plenty of it, knits cases for mobile phones and sells them near the subway station to ensure a gradual depletion of her monthly budget. She often remembers, because she truly lives only in her memories – of course, she doesn’t have a clue about that – how straightforwardly and regularly her life has passed. She loves to say “I married when I was twenty and I gave birth exactly nine months later.” They lived in a small apartment, of the mussel kind, just like everyone; every year in August (without exception) they went on a holiday and made blackberry jam. Every summer. She cannot remember these episodes from her life without tears of happiness and a feeling of pride for her well-lived time. Of course, the future makes her happiest: she would marry off her son, she would retire exactly fifteen years and two months from now, she would make blackberry jam and one day, when she died, they would bury her by her husband. Surely, it would be in September, she had always loved that month.
But as she walked out of her home, the Unknown Woman didn’t know that a little event that she had not foreseen was going to happen in her life.
How many had it been… For fifteen years now the Unnoticeable Man had lived in the Unnamed City. He had come for a short while, to put in order the documents about an estate that he had inherited, but the procedure of transferring the ownership had prolonged itself, so he stayed here. And how wouldn’t he stay when this city offered such living conditions! First, the climate – it rained every afternoon – as if it were keeping some kind of a schedule, umbrellas weren’t left unused even for a day and this saved you from the boredom of being surprised by a sudden summer storm, for example, or from the unpleasant feeling of walking about carrying a useless umbrella. Second, every evening at 20h they cut off the electricity for an hour and they were so strict that the Unnoticeable Man set his watch by the electricity regime. And he was sure that in the whole world there wasn’t another man who moved with the time as accurately as he did. Third, the fashion in the city didn’t change and he could gladly wear his suit, which suited him more and more each year, because he noticed that his hair was trying to match its color to the gray shade of the cloth. And fourth, here no one knew him, no one bothered him and nothing different from the forecasts that he made at the start of every month could happen.
But as he walked out of his home, the Unnoticeable Man didn’t know that a little event that he had not foreseen was going to happen in his life…
The Unknown Woman had just arranged her mobile phones cases when the Unnoticeable Man passed that way as he did every day. He would certainly have gone on his way and the Unknown Woman would certainly not have known about his existence if fortune and the author’s plan hadn’t made him stop to take a little ribbed stone out of his shoe. He stopped, shook out his shoe and saw the woman, who was staring at him indifferently.
When he got on the subway a couple of seconds later, he still remembered her almond-brown hair arranged in a neat bun, her gray ironed dress without a single pleat.
A couple of seconds later she still remembered the big black bow-tie blossoming on the gray shirt. And because women are more observant than men, she had managed to notice his clean-shaven face, which led her to conclusion that his job had something to do with public activities.
The Unknown Woman was not mistaken in her reasoning, the Unnoticeable Man was a teacher, but not just a teacher, but a zealous keeper of strictness and discipline. That day, however, the Unnoticeable Man omitted to register the lack of two commas and one question mark in his pupils’ tests, who noted that the Skool, as they called him in their schoolkid slang, was unusually absent-minded.
The Unknown Woman, who worked at a paint laboratory when she did not sell phone cases, was somehow excited the whole day. Her eyes were almost like the eyes of a seeing person and her thoughts were not as usual, not even for a second. She was so sunk in her dream that she put three more drops of the red ingredient in the mix for the paint. The result was gray with a shade of purple and this was the colour that the workers in the textile factory painted the clothes for the upcoming season in. This unexpected fashion trend puzzled the customers and long commentaries of twenty-four lines appeared in the press written personally by the editor on duty, and it had taken him two hours to do it.
On the day destined to bring about the conclusion to our story, the Unknown Woman after a couple of minutes of hesitation decided to put on a leaf-shaped brooch that she wore only on her birthday. Extremely excited by this quite unexpected decision, she didn’t notice the car that passed through the street at that particular time every day. The driver, who had not foreseen such misadventure, would have driven through her without managing to stop if a hand hadn’t intervened at the right time and pulled her back on the sidewalk.
The frightened woman unexpectedly found herself in the arms of the Unnoticeable Man, who had stayed longer than usual just to see if the Unknown Woman would come today. He had decided to buy a phone case even though he didn’t have a phone and to speak to her, which was an extremely brave step for his character.
Since they had met unexpectedly, they exchanged gratitude and compliments and then random talk about the weather, and they were very pleased.
Most unexpectedly at the end of our story the mayor of the Unnamed city turned up and officially declared the Unnoticeable Man a hero and said: “Citizens, remember this name because you won’t hear it again!” And then there was wild applause that inspired the wise man to give a remarkable election speech that lasted three hours and thirty-five minutes.
However, the mayor of the Unnamed City turned out to be not only a good orator but a good prophet. Because nobody heard anything about the Unnoticeable Man or the Unknown Woman ever again. They left the frame of our story and disappeared into life.