The process starts long before you walk out of your old life, and it may not start the way you think. It begins at the edges. There is a fraying there, a blurring. Parts of you seem to be worn away slowly, like in sixth grade when you learned about erosion and how rocks may be smoothed by the relentless beating of the waters. That is the first part to disappear. Probably nobody will notice, or if they do, they won’t care. After all, smooth and rounded rocks are better than jagged ones, which cannot be nicely picked up in the palm of a hand and skipped across the surface of a lake.
This nothingness bleeds inward slowly. It tastes like breakups and feels like goodbye. You melt into the air, and it melts into you. Pretty soon you are just a faint humanoid figure, a reflection, an outline, a negative, the hole in the paper where the doll is cut out. Congratulations! You are well on your way to disappearing.
Start to cut off your connections to others. You will be surprised by how easy this is. Do not post on social media, then delete your profiles. Say you don’t want it distracting you from your personal relationships. Talk less and less until you are not talking at all. Learn to be afraid of your own voice. This way, when the time comes and you disappear, there will be no difference at all.
Collect as much cash as you can. Siphon it gradually, over a long period of time, so that nobody suspects anything. Credit cards are out of the question; they’re much too easy to trace. Cut it up and bury the pieces. While you’re at it, cut up your driver’s license and drop it in the fire. Any form of identification could compromise you later on. You won’t be able to drive, but freedom is a small price to pay for anonymity.
Pack sparingly and practically. Don’t take anything that belongs to anyone else, or they’ll notice. Don’t take anything that can be tracked (your phone stays). Items like a toothbrush and sleeping bag can be purchased later with the untraceable cash you acquired in step 2. Instead, take blue jeans, white sneakers, a plain T-shirt, a black hoodie, a baseball cap for a team that is respectable but far away. This will be your best disguise. Take a pencil and paper so you can practice forgetting your name. Take a black duffel bag instead of your too-easily-identifiable backpack. Take a copy of the newspaper and a cup of black coffee. Take care that nobody sees you cry.
Resist the urge to leave a note. Drawing attention to your own disappearance is the opposite of what you want. If you don’t tell anyone what has happened, odds are you can slip away without any fuss.
Walk out quietly. Keep your feet close to the wall, where the floor has more support and is less likely to creak, even though you weigh very little at this point. You will want to leave through the front door, rather than, for example, a window, because you can close and lock the door behind you. In the morning nobody will notice anything out of the ordinary.
Walk away. If you’ve handled things correctly, everybody will have forgotten you in a couple of weeks. You may find that other people don’t see you when you walk into convenience stores to buy water bottles and candy bars. This is normal. Recall that you have disappeared and that only individuals with above average vision might be able to make out the faint ripple in the air as you pass.
Fall asleep on a park bench. When you wake up in the morning you will be gone. You will exist only as a floating consciousness. At this point, feel free to reflect on all the things you could do if you were corporeal. You might have trouble remembering; maybe you can only faintly recall the sensation of hope, like waking up in the morning with the leftover feeling from a dream. Nice work! You have successfully disappeared.
Zachary Lo is semi-transparent. He is considering running away to Maine, but he would probably have to bring his phone with him. He plays several instruments, runs in circles voluntarily, and sings badly. When he grows up he wants to combat the forces of evil or else be a writer.