The Girl They Left Behind

I wished I could say that the end of the road was near but my sight was limited by the fog around me. It stretched endlessly, far beyond what I could see, that I had to keep my eyes on my feet to make sure I stay on the same path. If I ever found myself away from the paved road, I wondered where I would go instead. I wondered about that a lot, but not once had I ever had the courage to do so. 

My brother always told me I was a coward, but that was before he was also taken away by the fog. One day while we were talking about our missing parents, he suddenly turned quiet. Then, he didn’t even spare me a glance before stepping off the paved road and that was the last time I ever saw him. 

I didn’t stop walking then. We never did. We might slow down our pace, or in some extreme cases, drag the whole weight of our body by our hands, but we never once stopped moving. I kept saying ‘we’ when I was the only one walking blindly in the mist. I used to have my family with me, my mum and dad, and my brother. But like I said, they all went off trail and that was the end of it.

I could describe to you what I could see and occasionally hear from my walk and maybe you could find me. Maybe by some weird chance you could help me find my family too. 

The fog was thick and black, as if someone had fused poison into it. Or that a demon was lurking and waiting for its next prey. But I was talking about that particular moment. Sometimes it would be light gray, and on those days I would walk faster than I usually did, feeling a little light inside. This was, of course, only a delusion of mine. Be it light gray or pitch black, I still couldn’t see anything but the path underneath my feet. 

Should I mention about the time? I probably should.

Time didn’t exist here. I gathered that much. What I meant by that was I couldn’t tell how much time had passed since I lost my family members. I knew the sequence of them happening, starting with my dad, then my mum and lastly my brother, but I didn’t know how relatively close or far apart did those things occur. Nor did I have a clue for how long I had been walking for. 

I didn’t even know if I should keep walking, but the thing was, I didn’t feel like stopping either. I didn’t feel like I had the choice to stop but my walking didn’t feel forced either. Can you understand me? 

Oh, the noises. I almost forgot to tell you about them. Maybe I got so used to hearing them in the background, in the midst of the fog, that sometimes I didn’t notice they were there. Most of them sounded unfamiliar, very few sounded like I should be able to identify them like they belonged to my beloved lost ones. But all of them were unintelligible. I could not make out a single word they were saying. Which was why I called them noises instead. Voices were supposed to be heard, theirs and mine, so if nothing was exchanged between anybody, why not give them a more appropriate name?

Something tapped my shoulder. But I kept my eyes down and didn’t stop to look at who or what it was. But my body felt heavier all of sudden and my senses sharpened without my command. I could hear footsteps behind me and labor breathing. Whatever it was, it was trailing behind me.

It tapped my shoulder again. Without thinking, my body broke its pattern of movement. The same way I never had the will to stop or to keep walking but did so because my vessel told me to, that same vessel moved and turned and slowed down until it suddenly stopped and we were eye to eye.

It was a man after all, one I had never seen before, but he was handsome so I didn’t mind him interrupting my walk. His skin was white as snow and so were his clothes and in the midst of the thick black fog, he stood out like a light. It felt as if a saviour had come to my rescue and to bring back my family.

“Do you want to stop walking?” He asked me, his voice as smooth as silk. 

I hadn’t used mine since my brother went missing and supposedly it was a long time ago, I realized, because my throat burned while I forced three little words to come out of it. “I don’t know.” Hoarse but barely audible, I almost didn’t recognize that voice as my own.

“How long have you been walking for?” He asked again and I gave him the same answer as before. He didn’t seem thrown off by that, instead he smiled and offered me his hand. My vessel moved and I took it, then he walked alongside me in the fog. I kept my eyes on him, studying his features because that was the kind of captivating look he had. Beautiful.

“Where are you taking me?” It was my turn to ask him a question.

He squeezed my hand a little, reassuring me, and shot me that handsome smile of his before saying, “to the end of the road. Your family is waiting for you there.” I looked down then, wanting to hide the tears welling up in my eyes from him, and I saw that I was no longer on the paved road. 

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