Apr/May 2004  •   Spotlight

Disappearing Acts

by Frances Gapper

Secretly learn to swim, and when he still thinks you can't, go with him on a sailing trip. Fall overboard and pretend to drown. But really, swim to shore, then run in the darkness up the beach to the house the two of you shared, where he was always adjusting the tea towels and hitting you. Flush your wedding ring down the toilet. Remember to check that it's really disappeared. Forget to check. Leave it for him to find, so he knows you're not really dead and sets out in pursuit of you. Meanwhile you're on a bus, being counseled by an elderly lady. On your way to rent an apartment, find a new lover, and try on lots of hats. He'll catch up with you, of course. Another violent scene. He nearly murders your lover and then you, but luckily you have a gun. You shoot him. People whisper in the cinema, Isn't she beautiful? That's during the hat scene, not the gun scene, although you look great in both. Disappear out of that film to star in other films. Marry and divorce. Have twins. Shock the press by waving at a friend. Your underarm hair is splashed all over the front pages. In real life your first husband was a non-violent country-and-western singer. But still you left him. You were famous for your disappearing acts. Famous anyway. They made a film called The Runaway Bride, starring you, because you always did that. But now maybe you don't.