We are passengers on a lost flight
Or maybe we knew someone who was
Or maybe we are just pretending.
We are camped on the floor of a large room
In a high rise building
Probably a hotel
They keep bringing more people in
Some of them on the verge of collapse
physical or mental
I think I know this is all fake
Or at least I should know
I’m not sure whether the others know
I’m not even sure about myself
We are sequestered there for a month
Maybe 40 days
We build a tight community
We create theories of what “really” happened
We help each other get “better”
Eventually we are let out
We stay in touch
We have reunions.
I see montages of our annual talent show
I am part of a recurring song and dance number
With a few of the other leaders
Less, over time.
We still say we are searching for the “truth”
I don’t know if I mean it
I don’t know if anyone else does
Finally there is a day
We are in a big hall
Like a church or library
The organizers admit it was all a fraud
A publicity gambit
Perhaps a government sting
to catch a bad guy
They confess surprise
that some of us kept it going for so long
And seemed to actually believe it
They encourage us to let go
Of the fake loved ones
we claimed had disappeared
And perhaps started to believe really had
They gave us bookmarks
With their names and faces
And told us to leave them
Inside an appropriate book
I find one
It is time to let go
Why is it so hard to let go
Of something I knew was not real?
What need in me did that fill
That made a painful fantasy
Preferable to a silly reality?
Was it really just about the community?
Even one built around a fake trauma?
Or maybe there was a real story
Behind the fake one
We had all been recruited
For a purpose.
And we gave it our all
We committed wholly to our characters
And that in itself meant something
That bound us together
Into something very special
Yet deeper still
There is something addictive
About loving a fantasy
Who doesn’t really exist
Even — perhaps especially — if presumed dead
We get the psychic boost of loving
Of an object for affection
Without the messy reality
Without having to prove it
Or find out we were wrong
About who we thought they were
Or we were
It doesn’t matter anymore.
I am ready to let go.