Among the Missing Persons

The theme of my media diet this last week has been missing people. I binged Dan Taberski’s podcast Missing Richard Simmons, which explores why Richard went Salinger. I read Robin Wasserman’s gothy opus Girls on Fire, wherein a main character disappears midway through the narrative. The worried friend calls and calls and calls and the family of the missing lies and says they “don’t know” where she’s gone to- a scenario I’ve lived as both the good girl inquirer-sleuth and the disappeared bad girl. “Where is she?” will go forever unanswered for me as the questioner worried about the subject and is unanswerable when I was the subject of the question. That’s okay. The question is enough.

My mom told me about an older woman we know who cut everyone off and hasn’t left the house for months. Finally they had an “intervention” today and someone went to see her. She was “in a bad way,” my mom said, that reliable euphemism which panders to the imagination. Once the details were filled in later, I did imagine it, easily- her lying in the center of the living room floor, half-dressed, pale, dehydrated. No food in the entire house, the fridge turned off, cell phone long-discarded. Piles of things everywhere, strewn about in an order only comprehensible to her, rendering the house barely navigable to everyone else. Cockroaches, rats, flies.

Luckily, she’d allowed them inside today; they bought her food, turned on the fridge. They are arguing about what to do now. She is less likely to starve to death. She’ll get treatment- consensually, I hope.

I want tea for her, food for her, weight gain, a greenhouse, music. I want her back among the living so she can memorialize her dead. I want her quiet or talking, however she’d prefer. She doesn’t owe anyone her story.

In the forest