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The Invisible Disability Cloak.

A person dressed as a scarecrow running through a wheat field with crows flying around them.
Ashley Apap

Jun 7, 2024

Comedian Ashely Apap explains how it might feel to trap someone else in her Invisible Disability Cloak. 

Content note: this post contains swearing.

On the hardest days, I dream about draping my illness over someone else - taking my Invisible Disability Cloak off, being free of its limitations, and trapping another in them.

Romanticized schadenfreude is a helpful coping mechanism when prescription pain killers are lousy assassins. When people say “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy” I shake my head in disbelief.

As I lie in my bed of isolation, I conjure up The Denier’s shrill yet breathy voice in my throbbing head. “No, you don’t understand, this guy was fucking OBSESSED with me, but aren’t they all?” This narcissist doesn’t just deny the existence of my ailments, she also denies the world of a moment without her self-obsession.

I imagine her waking up in my place: her joints ache, her jaw burns, her tummy gurgles and her mind spins. Today, she is collecting her winnings (her grandmother finally bit the bullet and The Denier is ready to cry as many crocodile tears as it takes to get EVERYTHING in that goddamn Will).

A close up photo of a childs toy, a green muscley chest.

Her eyes open as wide as a 4 year old who’s consumed full strength cordial for the first time. “What, the, FUCK?!” She leaps out of bed, or at least tries to. “Ahhh! My feet!!!” She looks down at her trotters - how will she make an extra $5000 a month on the side (allegedly) selling piccies of her piggies if her feet are FLAT?!

Immediately, she grabs her hideously bejewelled iPhone (whatever the most up-to-date model is, she stole it from a disadvantaged teen who won it playing the claw machine at TimeZone Melbourne Central) and feels a sharp pain in her wrist.

“Oh my god, ow!” The twinge of discomfort causes her hand to spasm, sending her phone into the door handle that leads out of her white -walled bedroom. She hears the dreaded sound of tempered glass cracking. “NO! MY FOLLOWERS!” She momentarily forgets that all her followers are bots that she paid to follow her, which is a fair thing to lose sight of when your hands are too sore to hold anything.

She goes to pick it up, but upon bending over, her lower back loses it’s composure “WHY?!” she yelps as she falls to the ground. Her phone is 100% broken and based off these new sensations shooting from tailbone to toes, she can only assume her body is too.

In unexplainable agony, she crawls her flaring body to the front of her apartment. She reaches the front door, but it’s fire-clad seal makes the door impossibly difficult to pull open. “Whoever the FUCK built this death trap is getting SUED up the ASS for fucking with ME on my BIG DAY.”

Using all the strength in her frail fingers, she pushes down on the door handle and rolls her brittle, burning body into the hallway. The door to outside is right there - all she needs to do is reach it, and get someone to help her. She drags herself along the industrial, communal carpet, not noticing when she smears her side in the stinking, skidmarked stool of the Schnoodle who lives in apartment 3.

The glass door reveals a crisp sunny day. “EXCUSE ME!” The Denier yelps, noticing a woman at her letterbox. She turns her freshly blow-waved head of effortless curls - it’s me, but cooler and healthier than anyone who’s ever existed. The Denier realises.

“Oh my god, ASHLEY! Something is WRONG babe! My body is all fucked up!”

“… Kind of like how mine used to be?” I raise my effortlessly perfect brows.

“What? Oh… I guess? Wait, this isn’t about YOU. Quick, give me a lift to the retirement home NOW!”

Even in my fantasy, she isn’t capable of empathy. So I flip my perfect hair, walk into the sun and leave her to writhe in my pain, soiled in shit.