It is easy to disappear.

Uncle Scott & Jill
Uncle Scott & Jill

“We don’t know where he is,” my aunt said about 7 years ago, and we still don’t know. She was talking about my Uncle Scott.

Here is how he vanished. Nearly deaf and with plenty of other issues piled on top, he grew up in and out of group homes. He could carve perfect tiny dogs out of wood and not recognize women he knew. One time he ran down the street to get away from my mom because he didn’t know who she was.

Eventually he became a ward of the state. Grandmother visited him on holidays. The last time I ever saw him was Christmas 1989–a month after my mom died and 3 months before grandmother would also be dead. The rest of the family decided those 3 months later not to tell him that his mother was dead. “He won’t notice,” they said. “He’ll forget she ever visited.”

A few years later my aunt called me to say that the yearly check she sent to my uncle’s group home had been returned. She sent the check as a gesture–a little money meant for a Christmas present or something. The check came back because the group home had closed.

No one could tell her where the residents had been sent. Out on the street? To another group home? Seems if you are a ward of the state and someone wants to find you, you have to give permission to the state to give out that information. Now, if you do not know someone is trying to find you or you can’t remember your family’s name, well, all the better to disappear.

If I were a character in a novel, I’d go to Florida and search for my uncle. I’d look group homes up and knock on their doors. Perhaps I’d come across a coverup and learn my uncle had been used in a terrible experiment that involved Jeb Bush and I’d end up on the run from the secret service.

Okay, no. If I were a character in a different novel, I’d go to Florida to search for my uncle, and I’d find him living on the streets of Tampa and I’d experience an epiphany about the frailty of family,a nd unable to save my uncle I’d devote my life to saving homeless people.

Or maybe if I were a character in a novel, I wouldn’t go to Florida to search for him, but he would come and find me. He’d knock on my door and wreck revenge on my husband and son because I’d failed to save him from the horrors of life on the streets.

Or he’d come here, find me, and save my life and teach me the value of family with his words of wisdom learned from the street.

In novels, the plot possibilities are endless. As a writer I can make anything happen on paper–have a happy ending and be a hero! This is a silly question but when you are out in the world living your real life, do you ever daydream that you’re a character in novel–your own or someone else’s? If you could jump into any book and become a character in its pages? What plot line would you jump into?

8 thoughts on “It is easy to disappear.

  1. Marta, that is the way I work myself into a frenzy of worry about absolutely nothing. The scenarios are endless, and I imagine every single one (especially the bad ones) until reality shows itself. I’ve been working really hard at not doing that, but I have slipped back into it lately, so your post is a good reminder. I don’t usually put myself in my WIP, but the stories of real (and imagined) life? Yeah, all the time.

  2. And see… in fiction, it’s a great story you have going about your uncle.

    In reality, it’s scary, sad, depressing, worrisome, maybe even tragic.

    I don’t think I want my life to be as eventful as a novel. I’d like to miss all the machinations of an author out to up the tension, deny me what I want and kill his/her darlings. No thank you.

    I’d much rather live a boring life, one not worthy of a novel, and write my own… where I can torture my poor characters and then give them their dreams… a curse if ever I heard one.t

  3. I can have an active imagination at times for sure, but usually I’m too busy to daydream. I do dream at night, however — sometimes crazy, action-packed dreams and I always wake up thinking that I watch way too much T.V.!

  4. I think you are an exceptionally imaginative individual thinking in terms of various novel plot lines and outcomes regarding your uncle. What if the novel were just as it is for you: imagining all of those possibilities but feeling paralyzed, uncertain, grounded in the daily reality of your life. There are lessons and endings in that as well. Not trying to save the world, just care for our immediate circle.

  5. Sherri, that the scenarios are endless can be a wonder and a nightmare.

    rowena, I’m with you. I like my boring life. Drama is for the page.

    shelli, I don’t think it is because you watch too much TV.

    Squirrel, I always wish I had a better imagination, but I could go on and on about plot lines. I didn’t even go into genres The sci-fi plot–my uncle has been lost in a rift in space and time and will show up back on earth far into the future. Or perhaps back in his past, run into himself, and change history. Or the romance plot–he has run off with a woman from his group home and the authorities don’t approve of these misfits trying to break out on their own and chase them down. Love prevails in the end and they live happily ever after on the edge of the desert. And they don’t need me at all. On it goes…

    writtenwyrdd, it’s okay. I knew what you meant. But thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I like what Rowena said: I’d be REALLY depressed if I thought I had to live at the mercy of an imagination as twisted as most writers’.

    For some reason, though, it’s not so nervous-making to imagine myself as a character in a movie. Maybe because I actually imagine myself as an actor, not really a character: there’s a life offstage waiting, out of reach of the screeenwriter’s devious machinations.

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