She didn’t know where she was, the fog was impenetrable. She was surrounded by nothing but white. It was a soft white, in feel and colour, it seemed to caress her and move with her. It was like being blanketed in warm cotton. It was comfortable and safe, but empty.
There was no one else here. She was alone. She knew that there had been other people once, but where and when they had left her, she didn’t know.
Now and then there were shadows in the fog, like great grey stalks – she thought that they might be called trees. She wasn’t certain. Words sounded wrong when she tried to say them. They came out as other words, or as nonsense, as random syllables floating in the white blankness. At regular intervals, there would be flurries of activity in the fog, shadows would come and surround her and move around her in a dance.
“Who are you?” she would try to ask them, but they didn’t understand. She didn’t understand what they said either.
“Who am I?” she would ask them, but no answer would come, and they would leave. They always left. Everyone always left her to the emptiness, even her thoughts left her or came and went in jumbled fractures that made no sense.
It felt like prison. It felt like a dream. She tried to say the word “purgatory” to one of the shadows, and it seemed to touch her hand (if that was her hand, she wasn’t sure, she couldn’t see it) and mumbled back, and then it disappeared and left her alone in the whiteness again.
But then, the shadow was right, even that word didn’t fit. No words did. Perhaps that was why she had so much trouble remembering how to say them.
Once, a face, clear and distinct, loomed out at her from the fog. It was a man’s face, and it terrified her, and she called out in her fear and shrank back from it. The face frowned, a giant eye shed a giant tear, and the face retreated and disappeared once again.
It was hours after it was gone before she remembered the word for that face had been “Son.” She tried it out, rolled the word around on her tongue, said it aloud. That word was right. She resolved she would not be afraid, the next time the face came out of the fog to visit her. She promised herself that she would say the word, and she knew that he would understand, that the face would know that when she said the word that the word meant love.
But the face never returned, and she became sad and lonely. The shadows still came at regular intervals, but if they spoke, they did not speak to her. The warm cotton of the fog became harsh and sharp-edged, colder, less caring. Instead of a caress, its touch felt perfunctory, like a duty performed.
Words would still drift into her mind now and then, and she would try to say them, but now they didn’t make any sound at all. Eventually, even those stopped, and there was just nothingness, just her and the fog and the shadows on their persistent routine.
One day, long after the last word had drifted into and out of her mind, the shadows went into a flurry of activity around her, but this time, she didn’t react to them. She didn’t reach out or attempt to speak as they moved and clustered around her and jabbered in their own quiet, concerned shadow-language. She didn’t even notice that they were there.
And then the fog closed in, and the shadows were gone, and so was she, and all was clean and white and empty once more.
Written for the Friday Flash prompt: “Write about someone stranded.” at Flash Fiction Friday
©2013 Jennifer L. Davis
View all posts in this series
- #FridayFlash – Just a Normal Day - February 25, 2011
- #FridayFlash – All Cats in the Dark - March 4, 2011
- #FridayFlash – Unexpected - April 1, 2011
- #Friday Flash: Just Another Bar, Just Another Small Town - September 21, 2012
- #FridayFlash – Stranded - February 1, 2013
- #FridayFlash – The Care and Feeding of Alien Flora - February 22, 2013
- #FridayFlash: It Happened Every Tuesday - March 8, 2013