Taking (in) the Mist
15 Minute Write
There had been only a handful of mornings, I could recall, when the fog rolled in from the sea and plunged the morning walk into such a mysterious yet beautiful ambience. Thinking back, each of them had instigated conversations with strangers I had never seen before whilst out. It was as if the mist had either materialised them here, made them talkative or made me appear more receptive to a conversation.
I noticed today’s stranger in the distance around halfway down the prom, and I knew he would engage me. I experienced one of those moments where you assuredly know your prophecy is going to become reality. You feel an affirmation that magic and mystery exist under the sheen of all of our existences and understandings.
“Morning!” came the predicted voice. A standard opener by which I could tell whether a nod, monosyllabic reply or full-blown conversation would be required. The voice was light. Which led me to believe this person was not local (who are generally deep and gruff)
“Crazy mist eh?” I replied, not expecting an answer.
“Where am I?” asked the thin, yet slightly musical voice.
"Sorry? You mean, where are you in town, or which town are you in? Are you lost?"
The man looked puzzled by my reply as if he had asked me something perfectly rational - which the question seemed anything but, to me.
“I’m just a little confused, sorry, it’s the travel, it affects me awfully at my age”
I have to say - the ‘at my age’ was odd - he looked half my age which - let me tell you - is still not considered ‘young’ … But to me …
“Are you on holiday? It’s a bit out of season!” I offered cheerily - hoping to lighten what I felt could rapidly become a complicated conversation.
“Vacation - yes - I’m cruising the oceans blue”
Drunk. Really? It was six thirty in the morning - Still drunk from the night before perhaps - yet he did not appear under the influence, drink or otherwise, in fact, he seemed rational, perfectly gentle and harmless.
“Oh” was my pathetic reply.
“Could you tell me where everyone is? I was told there were over six billion of you here?”
“In this town, lol, I don’t think so” he was starting to sound drunk again - where was this conversation going?
"Sorry - I'm sounding strange, aren’t I? How are you? Isn’t the weather lovely for this period"
"It’s certainly strange weather - like I said - crazy mist"
"Ha, Ha. Yes, the mist is a little wacky isn’t it - I’ve never seen mist act so strange in all my years"
I had made the mistake of stopping when he had first spoken; I had misread the situation, and him, completely. Now I would need to do that awkward ceremony of making a light-hearted excuse, so I could extricate myself.
“Well, I must go, the dog really does need a poo”
Okay, not the best line - but probably true - and I didn’t hang around for the politics of extraction. I walked on and tugged the dog who, of course, was going nowhere - when I looked down at him the poor thing was quivering as if he was freezing in the middle of winter … he did seem frozen, in the ‘sit’ position. But a dog’s mood is so easily manipulated by the rustle of a plastic bag full of treats in the pocket, and we were soon on our way, away from the odd young man.
About 100 metres apart, my curiosity got the better of me and I looked back - strangely the only figure I could see was a very long-limbed, skinny-looking, girl jogger where the odd young man should have been. What on earth was in this mist?
Penzance Promenade, Cornwall. October 2023. Nikon d750
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