The men have all begun to disappear. Maybe they are dying. It’s hard to say. Last night there were five of us: me, Run, Zachariah, Mary, Tom. Before that there were more. What will happen now? I’m not sure. I asked Run. He said people were unhappy and wanted to leave. I asked him if he was unhappy. He said no. I asked him who he meant. He gestured at the others and said: People. Then Tom was gone. In fact I never liked Tom. But I didn’t want him to go. I asked Mary. I said: Mary, where did Tom go? She shrugged. Mary doesn’t care about anyone but Run. She turned back to him. I heard a thud: Zachariah had fallen. Are you okay? I asked. No, he said. I’ve hurt myself. Then he disappeared. Or not exactly disappeared. It was like when you are on an escalator and you drop a piece of paper—say, a receipt—onto the metal stairs and then the stairs are sucked into the next floor. He was gone like that. So there was just Mary and Run and I. Me. Mary was still watching Run. I’ve never liked Run much. A good conversationalist, but he has bad breath and a bald spot on the back of his head. I asked him when he would be leaving. Soon, he said. I decided I didn’t care. What did I care about Tom, Zachariah or Run? Or the others?
The women have all begun to disappear. From the island. The island is quite big. I haven’t seen any of its edges. I have not seen any of the disappearances either. Only heard of them. They are spoken of very softly, as if they do not actually happen. But that is deceit. Disappearances have always happened, will always happen.
There is some debate about whether disappearing is the same as death. Personally I don’t have an opinion. There are certain things known to me and certain things unknown. To disappear is to become unknown. To die is to become unknown. So obviously there is that similarity.
The first disappearance was, in one sense, also the last, in that every disappearance since then has only been a variation, a duplication, an imitation of it. Perhaps there has only ever been one, and reports have simply begun to merge. Or perhaps there have never been any and this, in and of itself, is the greatest disappearance of all. Yet these interpretations seem facile.
I can say, for myself, that I have never been wherever, purportedly, I was. I have been there and also not there. To be some place is, in this age, to be susceptible to disappearance. Consequently I renounce all being in place and instead embrace being out of place. To not have a physical location is, for beings like you and me, an escape. In other words, a perpetual disappearance.