Fog

fog

I remember, when I was little, my Mamma sitting me down by the fire and telling me stories before I went to bed. They were stories with reasons behind them, like “Don’t be cruel to children younger than you,” and, “Always eat what you given.” But I remember, one night, my Mamma telling me a different kinda story. She sat me down on a stool in front of the fire and began brushing out my hair gentle and real slow. Even now, I still remember the feeling of it tugging lightly at my scalp.

“Once there was a valley and in the valley everything was perfect. The grass was green; the soil was rich; and the weather warm and wet. But not many people lived in this valley. Despite it being so nice, people were afeared of it. Because the valley is surrounded by dark, gloomy mountains. And the mountains are cursed.”

Mamma had my full attention now. I stared into the golden fire, my eyes unfocused, focusing on her words.

“The mountains would spew fog that would drag itself down to the valley and swallow the town whole, till everything was grey. Then the fog would play tricks on people, showing them their dead loved ones and whispering words into their ears what turned their minds to soup. If you listen, then you gone for. It take hold of you, the whisper sickness, and you go mad; you try an fight your way out, into the fog, and the fog would swallow you whole. The next morning… they never find any bodies. And then next time the fog come, it got one extra loved one trapped in its belly, whispering lies.”

I was shivering by now, despite the hot fire flickering at my feet. Mamma turned me round to face her, and her face was so serious I was scared. Her voice was low and urgent.

“This is why you can’t go out at night, you understand? This is why you’ve got to hurry home from school. Because I don’t ever want to lose you and see your face in the fog.”

I nodded, partly out of fear for the fog, partly out of love for my Mamma.

She smiled and sighed with relief. She turned me back round again and carried on brushing out my hair.

“You’re a good girl,” She said softly. “Such a good girl.”

A Day at the Dunes

The contents of the overcrowded minibus spilled out onto the sand.

After being cooped up for hours in that sweaty tin-can bus, the teenagers exploded.

For hours, the golden sun gazed at the crazy teenagers in wonder

Watching as they ran and screamed and slid and clambered over the endless sand dunes

They chased, and raced, and tumbled, and played games until the sun began to sink

Then, as one, they collapsed at the bottom of a dune, exhausted

Sand caked every inch of their sticky suncream skin

They lay sprawled on the sand, using each other as pillows

When they recovered their breath, they struggled to their feet and slowly stumbled off

Searching the golden sand for driftwood

By the time the heap of wood was big enough, the sun had sunk out of sight

Leaving only the very tops of the dunes blazing with gold

They lit the fire and the dancing red flames shot up into the dark sky

With the last traces of energy they possessed, the teenagers leapt to their feet

And danced, and sang, and ran around the bonfire as the night fell

Holding hands, making an untidy ring around the roaring bonfire

Dancing to the left, to the right, faster and faster, stamping their feet on the sand

Singing all the campfire songs they knew, as loudly as they could

Until they ran out of songs and had to sing them all twice

All caught up in the wild stomping rhythm

When the flames died down, they collapsed around the ring of glowing coals

Marshmallows were passed around and soon everyone was eating and chatting and talking

The fire popping and crackling merrily in the centre

The stars began to prick through the heavens and shine

A yellow moon peered over a dune, then raised its dented head and climbed into the star scattered sky

The teenagers lay on their stomachs around the fire, watching the gleaming ashes with heavy eyelids

The wind gusted now and then, sending sparks like red fireflies floating through the air

The conversations grew quieter, laughter still breaking out now and then

The fire was little more than embers but the heat it gave off was cosy and comforting

Slowly, their heads drooped and the conversation faded away

With their heads resting on someone else’s stomach, they sleepily stared up at the stars

Then, one by one, they drifted away

Their dreams full of running and dancing and the stamping of feet

Until all that was left at the bottom of the moon washed dune

Were the still warm ashes of a fire

And the sticky sandy bodies of many exhausted teenagers.

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