Such people are not intriguing by nature but their small, desperate measures sometimes are.
The lack sound or waves preceding them or trailing in their wake is a testament to their deferential (submissive, obedient, dutiful, passive) blandness, yet also informs part of their mystique.
Women with double names like Dawnmarie, not to be confused with Dawn Marie, Dawn-Marie, or any of those southern belles who double up on names to double down on emphasis.
Dawnmaries move through the world assuming that no one notices them.
And most of the time they are right. Predators and writers are two exceptions and there’s no telling who will turn up first. Maybe the predator does, and the writer feeds off the carcass afterward. Or maybe the writer gets there first, beating the odds, and pre-records the minutiae of an otherwise overlooked life.
Because we are out there Dawnmarie. The people who know the how and why of your nuances because we can decipher the flick of your hair, your erratic energy fluctuating between hope, weariness, and self-containment absolute—the way you say sorry for ever existing at all.
We see it Dawnmarie; we’re paying attention to your unguarded actions.
You never bothered developing a shell when not engaged with others. Face to face you know how to run for cover without disrupting that overworked smile but walking down the street alone you lay yourself bare.
It’s never occurred to you that someone, some day, may look at you and see. Someone outside your retinue of acquaintances (rarely friends) and incrementally smaller family circle. Smaller not from estrangement but from death.
People rarely leave your life because they rarely find reason to enter it.
You did not recognise your fate when young, when you were flush with the narcissism of youth and assumptions that you were the subject of at least one male gaze and probably more.
The confused humiliation you felt when that scrutiny flickered and died must have been devastating.
You didn’t know you had to act on that overture, that you weren’t a passive ornament to be admired and left untouched. There were expectations behind that gaze Dawnmarie, and you failed to meet every single one of them.
You, who with terrified effort and another birthday alone eventually pep-talked yourself into social media profiles and/or the online dating scene only to be shot down by a wall of indifference. All that effort for nothing.
Welcome to the real world Dawnmarie.
I can only imagine what your life has been like—and I do imagine it. Sheltered, sceptically prim but terrified of humiliation; lonely, yet free of the burden of admitting to loneliness.
You made pies for churches and bake sales and you smiled a lot (teeth showing, naturally) and would have felt shy getting naked with the lights on. Had there been any takers that is.
You mistook reticence for romance and something that offered a deeper meaning.
You mistook your own ignorance for bliss.
It’s all right. It will all be all right one way or another. Just maybe not for you, unfortunately.
The problem, Dawnmarie, is that you are exactly the kind of woman that gets stuffed into the trunks of cars at gas stations. It’s your apologetically smiling face haunting me from the sides of milk cartons, like you hate to bother me over breakfast.
If you weren’t dead already you probably would have expired from shame when your face appeared on Unsolved Mysteries or ‘Disappeared’.
Discovery ID is all the rage these days.
No one watching the show will mistake you for a predator. You’re not the one who makes people disappear.
You are the disappeared.
You were primed to disappear your entire life and now you’ve gone and succeeded. You are a cypher but not the cypher. You are a bookmark and never the book.
I’m not condescending to you. I’ve spent far too long contemplating your details and gazing at your missing person poster for that, spent too long reading about how you wanted to be a mother until the hour for it came and went and left you only with time.
Time to garden and check on sick neighbours and volunteer at the library or food bank.
You were thinking about getting another cat, or maybe a pair of love birds to brighten up your single dwelling home. I hear that women like you are renting apartments now, even in the Midwest. Even in the south.
It never occurred to you to change directions, do an about-face, to buy a plane ticket and disappear somewhere where your lifelong anonymity could ripen to fruition and take on a compelling dimension.
I do not disdain you, never even entertained the idea of it. There are times I have wanted to be you.
How nice, how beloved, how harmless, how sweet, how simple.