I am alone in the universe.
The world has fallen away, consumed by a fog so thick it turns my vision gray despite the summer sun. The mist consumes even the warmth of the day, and my bare skin raises prickles to chase it off.
Water splishes against my calves. The shore could be anywhere, even in the direction from which I came. Shadows in the fog might be the strangers on the bus, or might be ghosts, or something older. Muffled speech, unintelligible, the consonants. As turned around and lost in the fog as I am.
I could walk for miles. I must surely step off this sand bar into the ocean, or up onto shore. Or off the edge of the world where the fog has dissolved all matter in its way.
What beach, what sky, what other people? It is all gone. Fuzzy edged and uncertain. Only a circle of calmed water, of smooth sand beneath my toes. Everything else is a lie.
Or perhaps I am the lie. Perhaps I am the ghost. To walk for miles in any direction. To see only for a few paces around me. Hear only the haunted voices of fogbound apparitions.
The ripple of water around my legs, the only sign I am not lost. But I am lost, for certain. I cannot find my way back from this moment.
Have no desire to.
Author’s note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is YouTube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook, and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I do tiny grammar and spelling checks, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.