It’s striking how many of these are about a desire to escape from life, either chemically or by actually physically running away. But, fucking hell, this one isn’t just a secret; it’s a story. Once it doesn’t seem tasteless to do so, I imagine these will be the stories that are told about that day. How the jagged edge of fate tore people from one life and into another. And I bet this person isn’t the only one.
There’s been stuff in the papers recently about Britons missing from the tsunami. Some of them, it seems, are missing rather conveniently for themselves and inconveniently for the police.
The only thing that gave me pause about that one was that the idea of someone disappearing, but then sending in a postcard, seems a bit like playing at committing suicide in order to be caught in time so that people get shaken up. It’s a reaching out for help, rather than a desire to actually disappear.
Writing it as a story, I guess you can either approach it as human drama, which would most likely focus on an individual; or as something much more abstract and science fictiony, which might propose that the Missing in fact all disappeared in the same way, for the same reason. It’s what John Varley did in Air Raid, and it’s a nicely fertile idea.
There was actually a play written and produced a year or so after 9/11 in which a guy who would otherwise be working at the World Trade Center and would therefore be presumed dead, is saved by stopping in on his mistress before heading into work. Rather than go through the mess of divorce and all, he tries to get his mistress to just run off with him to start a new life as someone else. See http://www.curtainup.com/mercyseat.html