The fog flows in off the fields and covers the road. As we pass the last of the lights that mark the boundaries of the village, the van begins to pick up speed. He doesn’t want to be late. He’s always been an aggressive driver. Speeding tickets and the deer-van collision last year haven’t done much to change that. He has slowed down a bit with the high gas prices but his impatience could still easily surface as he tailgates or weaves in and out of traffic whenever he feels justified. One can justify anything with the right rationalization, I suppose. We all do it. The houses at the side of the road fade into the black of night and flowing mist as we speed along.
Have you ever seen fog just as it begins to fill the road? It settles in a straight line like the surface of a lake or a pond. A ribbon of soft grey velvet splits the darkness, rising to the height of 5 or 6 feet. Flying in the black I can see that straight line as it marks the surface of a blind depth just ahead. The mist, like a wave, breaks over the hood and begins to rise. The headlights catch it and then are dimmed as they sink below the level surface.
It’s frightening in the dark. The fog seems alive, like a great blind serpent that wraps its steely coils ever tighter around us as we hurdle recklessly down the road. This thought, this emotion holds me captive. White fingers wring the car blanket as the red needle on the speedometer climbs…80, 90,100,110,120 and then finally rests uneasily at 130 kilometers. Now isn’t the time to say anything…here in the dark, in the fog. Who knows what hidden thing might suddenly loom up in front of us on the road barely caught in the dim rays of the headlights? Better to stay quiet than admit the fear.
"Nothing is going to happen," there’d be an impatient sigh.
"You worry too much." the deep vertical line that marks his dissatisfaction would crease his brow. That mark has grown deeper over the years so that it resembles a knife cut that splits his brow in two, that bloodless gash a symbol of unspoken accusation.
"Why don’t you believe in me?
You never believe in me".
First there is the fear and then there is the anger and they mix to become one like the night and the growing fog around us. Resentment and suspicion meets anything less than happiness. Any signs of sorrow or dissatisfaction must in fact be an assignment of blame or a sign of the death of love, that ultimate betrayal. So… I stay quiet.
A flood of brackish vapor laps at the window. Ethereal fingers caress the glass, reaching first to shoulder height and then lunging up to wrap around the reflected neck. Purchase gained, the clammy tendrils crawl up higher to smother mouth, nose and at last eyes. We are engulfed, lost in the silence and the dark.
Time slows as distances fade. Only the broken yellow line, lost itself just ahead on the road, marks progress through the invisible world. I strain to see anything outside but the empty window holds me hostage. All my landmarks are gone. I know they must be there somewhere. I can still see the yellow line, a lifeline now I guess on this invisible road. The weight of that indistinct greyness, like our silence, bears down suffocating and blank.
We break the surface as we crest a hill. In the light from the dashboard I can see his face for a moment free from the fog, the fear, the accusation and the blame. He turns his head and in that reflected light, it is all there. All the days and years of late morning cafe breakfasts, movies and popcorn on the couch, Scrabble games, walks in the park and warm feet under the covers at the end of the day. Just for a moment I see him clearly. Only for a moment we hang on the edge of the precipice, the fog waiting below. There’s just enough time to draw in a gasping breath before the undertow drags us down again.