I'm enthused about the revival of the public forum, as I've been practicing PW alone during a long moneyless period. I'm interested in Toby's question about what makes Writing regularly difficult, and want to take a stab at responding, but for now just some random thoughts on "vanishing."
The word "vanish," its frequent appearance in the idiom "vanished into thin air" says something about how it might differ in usage from, say, "disappear." Swish, a brandish, astonished, a magic trick, something almost supernatural and dramatic about "vanishing." How did it happen? Whatever vanishes seems to be not just gone but nowhere? (Do we always use it in the third person?)
For me, too, it carries with it a sense of "as if it/he/she never existed." How could someone be part of my life and now not be? When my parents retired from Maryland to Oregon, I felt they had vanished even though I live in upstate New York. It did feel like a move in a game (to get back to Toby's original hypothesis), a trump, putting an end to a game they no longer wanted to play (with us). Maybe they felt they couldn't win.
But it's usually when someone pops back into my life, as D1ckens characters tend to pop up again 100 pages later, when you've forgotten about them, that I am aware of their having vanished.
Peek-a-boo...frightens/delights when I'm too young to know something hasn't really vanished just because it's hidden? I imagine I would have enjoyed seeing something or some face there again--that disappearing would make the appearance more vivid, refreshed. It makes the thing "pop," to use current lingo. Does artistic representation have this effect sometimes?