I’ve been catching up on an excellent TV series about people who go missing; the programme follows the family or friends who can’t find their person and also the police who investigate the disappearance. The stories are complex and sad, but thankfully in the episodes I have watched the missing person has been found – or at least, the mystery of their disappearance has been solved.
I’ve written several times about missing people because it is such a mysterious and complex situation and so many questions are posed about why the person is not where they are expected or supposed to be. Has an accident happened and they are trapped or injured or maybe even dead? Have they just voluntarily walked out of their own and their families’ lives? Have they ‘walked out’ in a terminal way that they have deliberately left their own life by ending it? Are they depressed and in despair? Are they ill, or elderly, muddled, or ‘not themselves’? Or Is there some hidden situation which they feel they have to escape from, are they a victim making a break for freedom, becoming someone else in the process? Have they done something wrong and want to escape the consequences, maybe filled with shame – or maybe not?
Fairy stories and traditional tales are full of mysterious disappearances, away with the fairies, run off with the gypsies, gobbled by monsters, treasure seekers and seekers of fortune who never return. Films, TV series, novels abound with this story line, the story of those left behind and their search, the story of those who have ‘run away’ and their escape.
In my novel ‘Saltpans’ there is a character, Shelly, who is found; maybe she has run away from someone or something, maybe Shelly indeed does have amnesia or maybe she is pretending to keep herself safe from something she fears. Shelly is found soaking wet and unconscious on a beach – when she recovers in hospital she has no memory of her real self at all, and despite the police’s best attempts, they cannot discover who she is, and despite massive publicity in the media, no-one comes forward to claim her.
Here is a link to my book:
… and here is a link to the BBC programme, ‘Reported Missing’: