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Flash Fiction: Fog and Lembas

Farrah crumpled the letter in her hand and tossed it onto the far reaches of her messy desk. She should just throw it away, but instead her feet carried her toward the window.

Through the streaked windowpane, the morning was an unrelieved, almost uniform gray. Dingy and sad. Appropriate. Fog turned the nearest trees gray, and hid the rest, the descent into the valley, the mountains across the way. It made things disappear. Farrah realized she wanted to disappear.

She reached for her coat, lifted it off the hook, then set it down again, crooked. It was a bright red with blue details; the blue the color of the ink he had written in. The red was too cheerful, and the blue—no. She went to the closet and pulled out the silvery grey cloak she’d bought for Halloween after watching The Lord of the Rings.

She settled it around her shoulders, letting the deep hood shroud her wet face. She joined the delicate leaf clasp, remembering the books, remembering how the elves left the mortal world, when its strife and sadness became too much for them. It was a long trip to that shore—she needed lembas.

She rummaged in the closet, rejecting Ritz (too commercial) and Keebler (wrong type of elves, too cheerful. Besides, she thought the sweetness would choke her). Nothing was perfect, so she settled on Bug Bites. She’d bought them for her—no, his—nephew. They were abandoned goods, just like her. And butterflies and dragonflies and ladybugs, well, she could imagine even Tolkien’s solemn elves wanting their lembas to be things of beauty. She tucked the box into one deep sleeve and set out, leaving the door ajar.

The day was silent. She walked until the house faded to an indistinct form behind her and closed her eyes, listened. The silence was not empty; it was dense. It drifted into her, stilling the echoes of all their recent fights, quieting even the echoes of his voice, speaking the words in the letter, until they faltered, and lay smothered, quiescent.

She stood there, invisible, silent, grey. A part of the fog.

Slowly, the day brightened. The fog started to burn off. She stood at the top of a steep hillside, the fog in the valley twisting and dancing in beautiful, fanciful shapes.

Farrah realized she could stand on the hillside, wait for the sun to come out, to make things real and distinct. Clear and sharp. Go inside, call a divorce lawyer. And the rest of her day would be real, and ugly.

In front of her was beauty. Peace. Ethereal silvery waves—though it was all illusion, mist and shadows. Nothing she could touch, nothing she could rely on. Like she’d thought she could rely on him, she thought bitterly.

She took a few steps forward, descending to where the mist rose dense above her knees, and higher in tatters and spires . The hillside was steep and wet, going forward would be dangerous. She couldn’t see her feet, couldn’t guess where her footsteps would take her. There would be no one to save her if she slipped, no one to catch her if she fell, save herself.

She opened the box of lembas, took out two pieces of waybread, looked at them as if they were omens. A caterpillar and a butterfly. Perhaps they were.

Perhaps tomorrow she could bear to go back, to deal with the ugly aftermath of her yesterdays.

But today—today the path to the grey shores lay in front of her. Today she would leave all of her troubles, all of the mortal world, behind.

She stepped forward, gently, drifting downward amid the curls and drifts of fog, welcoming the silence, and the danger, and most of all, an ever-changing beauty she could never grasp in her hand, only in her soul.

Photo by red_trillium of Pinepig Studios.             Donation hat painted by me.

Please, let me know what you think!


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this immensely.
Oct. 17th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Oct. 17th, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)
Very atmospheric and believable.
Oct. 17th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
I very much got a sense of the escapism.
It's a pretty good description of what I try and do to get away from bad times, although I never went the LOTR way - thanks for the idea :)
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
Very believable - and in her escape she's walking the edge between life and death, throwing her fate to the wind (or the elves).
Oct. 17th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful.
Oct. 17th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Oct. 17th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
The Road Goes On
Very nice, Deirdre. I have come to love your style. Everything flows so naturally from your hand.

I have a thing for fog, and The Lord of the Rings, so this piece really resonated with me. Her whole mood matches that of the passing of the elves from Middle Earth. I was happy to see you avoid suicide as the solution to her problems. Her problems remain, to be faced another day, but on this day she simply needs to withdraw into the fog to try and find something worth salvaging. At least that's my read. I hope she comes out stronger.
Oct. 17th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
I like it a lot -- I love foggy mornings. I hope she makes it down the hill.
Oct. 17th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
I suspect she will. There's a thing about about facing danger, experiencing the adrenaline rush, that makes people feel stronger and more alive. For many people, it can cut through mental "fogs" like depression, shock, and apathy.
Oct. 17th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Nice. I liked how she was replaying the trip of the Elves and her little lembas search. But Keebler elves are too cheerful? I would think baking in a tree would be horrible working conditions... :D

I enjoyed this. Thank you.
Oct. 17th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Well done. The sadness and loneliness really comes through.

Oct. 18th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
I'm glad you could drop by!
Oct. 18th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Thanks! I like the others too, though I think the second one goes best with this story.

Let me know what you think of the story, when you get a chance.
Oct. 18th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
Will do! In the middle of doing bills right now. :( When will I ever get it in my head not to leave the damned things for 2 weeks. really not healthy/productive to saving. :(

But heads up, link to my username is wrong. I'm red_trillium, not redtrillium. Looks like redtrillium is an active account at LJ but not me :)
Oct. 18th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
I hate typos! will fix.
Oct. 18th, 2009 08:17 am (UTC)
I do really like this. I like the imagery of the way the husband's words and voice were smothered by the fog. And I love your choice for the lembas. I've never had a Bug Bite nor would I have known what they were but I think you explained them well in the story.

Now to go read Fireborn :)
Oct. 18th, 2009 10:04 am (UTC)
They're graham crackers!
Oct. 18th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
Proper escape
I'm quickly becoming a great fan of yours. Well done.

Carrie Clever aka @shadowsinstone
Oct. 18th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
Your prose is simply beautiful. It was easy to feel her need for escape.
I look forward to reading more of your work.
Oct. 20th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
This was quite lovely. I found myself comforted by The Lord of the rings during a trying time in my life as well, so it hit home. Thank you for sharing it. :-)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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