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What the Fog Brings by Emma Holmes

artwork by Daria Prymachova


An impending doom always seems to roll in with the fog. Today, like most, its opaque shroud consumes light and dark alike until all is a hazy gray. It only slightly dissipates to reveal gnarled bare trees, their branches clawing towards crumbling graves adorned with lavish crosses. The aged stones coated with a slight discoloration of parasitic moss seem to have damned all life. This is evident by the shriveled roses embellishing the ground.

The grass lying beneath your own feet is a dull and sickly pine green. It’s sparse and nearly dead, leaving most of the ground dry, cracking earth. To the far edge, rows upon rows of towering withered stalks oscillate slowly as a weary wind whispers through its narrow gaps spinning an eerie melody. A rusted and spindled fence creeps along the perimeter. You can’t help but wonder if it was built to keep people out, or for a more sinister reason—keeping creatures in. Despite the fact you have never been one for superstitions, there is a tiny voice inching its way to the forefront of your mind, keeping you on edge with warnings of the undead. The haunting thought manifests through the expanse of your body via bumps and through a deep uneasy pit growing in the back of your throat.

As you survey the rest of the cemetery clouded with fog and darkened by night you realize that you don’t know which way is which. You are completely lost without any semblance of a direction, eyes wide and struggling to focus on anything in the cemetery. Every single direction you start walking towards seems to bring you right back to the decrepit place from whence you came. Nothing feels real anymore. You seem to reside in a place of limbo where time doesn't pass and all is bleak. Glancing down towards your hands you find something foreign in their place. Everything that surrounds you becomes more and more confusing as you struggle to remember how you ended up here.

A rustle in the far distance carries through the night. You whip your body towards it and begin calling out to whatever may reside beyond what your eyes can perceive. But you are just met with the howling of the wind picking up and sending dead leaves skittering across the yard.

A sudden all-consuming pressure pushes you to the ground and you ball up under the weight of the phantom force. Curled up on the hard cold ground, your breath quickens and you are petrified with terror. Everything is wrong. You feel utterly crushed in all meanings of the word, leading you to let out a gut-wrenching sob hoping that somehow, someway it will help. This maddening pain goes on for who knows how long—hours, days, months, maybe even years. All you know is that no one is coming to find you.

Finally, you peek one eye open and see a bright white aura unlike anything that surrounds you in the dull dank cemetery. Your eyes are still blurred from the tears, causing you to squint in awe of the tiny moon reflecting in your eyes that has somehow bloomed despite the gloom.

Your eyes focus and you discover it is a flower sprouting from the ground, its stem a brilliant shade of green contrasting with the lifeless grass that surrounds it. From the stem sprouts little upside down bells made up of a blinding white. Slowly you crawl to your feet forgetting all about the force that had been compressing you for so long. Although your legs wobble and your lip quiver, you push away the unshed tears and start to stagger towards the flower. A little switch turns on in your mind and you pick up the pace as you envision the flower starting to fade to match the rest of your surroundings. You must get to it before death settles over the bloom too.

Once you finally reach the blossom, you find yourself delicately moving your fingers over the smooth petals. The silky feel of the thriving flower fills you with more and more hope as it continues to thrive. You glance once more over the cemetery and find that where withered roses once laid are instead gorgeous ruby red roses flourishing with life. The lovely flowers continue to instill something other than fear and misery into you. You spot another flower.
The leaves are sharp and crisp and lay below a magnificent yellow bud. As you stare, the flower begins to open up into what looks like a drop of sun. It radiates warmth and begins to heal your brittle cold bones, strengthening them so your legs no longer shake.

The fog begins to clear and the mist that once glazed over your eyes goes along with it. A radiant sunshine envelops the land and illuminates the hidden beauty within the gates. All uneasy feelings feel a lifetime away, and you smile. As you look around you see not aging crumbling gravestones but polished ones adorned with wreathes of lively flowers of all shades and species. The ground is overcome with lush grass and dotted with dandelions. Trees that were once deformed and sickly stand tall and form spots of shade. The rusted and sharp fence is no longer there and replaced with a stout one that shimmers in the sunlight. The rows of corn fields are abundant and ready to harvest. The wind that once whistled through the twists and turns is now a soft breeze that cools the humidity, creating a perfect summer day. You look behind you and see a path leading to the cemetery that is rough and unpaved while the one ahead is sleek and smooth.

However, the path isn't going to be that way for long. Eventually, there will be another fog along the way. You can see it hovering in the distance. That doesn’t concern you though because right now you are living in the glorious moment. All that once seemed miserable and terrifying has emerged from its cocoon beautifully. The ugly that once consumed the land is a reminder to you to appreciate the cool blue sky full of puffy cumulus clouds even more.

Soon you will leave the cemetery and continue down the path. You will start to forget the feeling you had earlier when the fog had dissipated and begin to groan about the humidity or the treacherous weedy dandelions. As you do, the trail will get rough again and your demeanor will turn sour as the breeze picks up into a chill. Eventually, you will find yourself wandering into another fog, not wanting to go the longer path around it. All the lessons you once learned will be far away in your memory and you will be lost, confused, and in anguish. The cycle then repeats: terror then displays of hope, love, and health will again open up your eyes. It will continue repeating until you take the long way around, the rough path. But to do this you need to appreciate the uneasy gravel and nip in the air for what they bring—wisdom and experience. For now, the fog brings with it an impending sense of doom and your vision is starting to turn gray, as its shroud consumes all the light you once treasured and then discarded.

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