The theme is vanishing (memory, girlfriend, donut girl, cars in snow, tire tracks, digital pictures, etc.). Ceil has dumped Jack after asking him the question “What would you do if I vanished?” He doesn’t handle the question well but after she does vanish he watches the movie she said it was a quotation from. Except he doesn’t hear the lines spoken (they vanished?). But he does imagine Ceil with her ex-lover Dom and the thought of her doing essentially the same thing with him, except more literally since Dom has pictures of her on his computer and Jack has none of any kind. And then, as if the movie is being watched again from the beginning, Ceil asks Jack the same question. He does better this time, but the implication is clear: she’s met someone else. I like Dybek’s work and in this story I enjoy the ride and the overuse of the vanishing trope, but in the end I’m not happy with the “groundhog day” notion that this is a loop that will repeat endlessly. Unless I’m supposed to be taking something else away from that ending. So: liked it, didn’t love it.
July 9 & 16, 2007: “If I Vanished” by Stuart Dybek