Just a little something that’s been racking around my brain since the Fog Knows Your Name. There are some slight ending spoilers, but nothing major.
Yasmin pulled her coat tightly around her, noting how her breath misted over. It was already snowing when the Fog released her, and it looked like it was going to last all night.
At least I should make it to town, she thought, before the worst of the storm hits.
All was quiet except for her boots crunching through the accumulated snowpack. She jumped slightly when a loud crack pierced the air, only to see a branch broken by the weight of snow.
Behind her, she heard the sound of an engine. Turning her head, she saw an SUV coming down the road. For a moment, Yasmin considered hitching a ride, but thought better of it since she didn’t know who’d be driving it.
So Yasmin continued down the road, only to feel a bit of panic when the vehicle came to stop with a loud squeal of breaks about ten feet in front of her. She quickly looked to the woods, wondering whether to make a dash for it when a voice cut through her fear.
“Yasmin,” said a low, hopeful voice, “Is that really you?”
Yasmin raised her head, seeing a woman in her early twenties, looking straight at her, causing her heart to beat a few extra times. “Ennis?” she replied.
“Oh God, it is you!” said the young woman, and Yasmin temporarily lost her breath as the other’s arms tightly wrapped around her, rocking from left and right. Unconsciously, Yasmin returned the gesture, in that brief moment, felt a peace she hadn’t known in a long time.
Ennis gently shepherded Yasmin to the SUV, saying “Let’s go someplace warm.”
Yasmin let out a soft sigh as she sank into the passenger seat, luxuriating in the warmth of the vehicle. She turned her head and looked out at the passing countryside, her breath causing fog to appear on the window. Yasmin had to repress the urge of drawing a heart and the letters Y + E in the middle of it. After all, who knew what had changed with her departure?
Yasmin was deep in these idle thoughts when she realized Ennis was asking her a question. “I’m sorry,” she said, “what were you saying?”
Concern laced Ennis’ voice as she asked, “What were you doing on that stretch of road?”
“The Fog…the Fog said it was time for me to go, and when it pulled back…there I was,” Yasmin slowly said, “How…how long was I gone?” Time was meaningless when in the Fog’s clutches, but Yasmin that didn’t pertain to the rest of the world.
“Two years,” answered Ennis, “you were gone for two years.”
“Two years,” repeated Yasmin softly, “A lot can change in two years.”
“Yes it can,” Ennis said, “But you’re here now, and that is what is important.”
“Maybe,” Yasmin said, disbelief coloring her tone.
Silence filled the vehicle until they started to enter the town proper. Yasmin exhaled softly as at least most of the businesses and homes remained the same. Yasmin bit her lip as they passed Spirit Drive, and she said, “Could you turn back? I know it’s probably been a while, but my home is back there.”
This time Ennis kept her eyes glued on the road, but one hand twined her fingers with Yasmin’s. “I…I can’t do that. After you disappeared, your mother left town. Sold the restaurant, and everything.”
“Oh,” Yasmin said, mind numbed at this news.
Ennis made a left turn, maintaining contact with Yasmin, “You can stay with me, however long it is. I promise you this.”
Eventually, the SUV pulled into the driveway Yasmin was familiar with, one that belonged to Ennis’ family. “My parents went on vacation to Florida,” Ennis explained, unlocking the door, “They asked me to housesit. Why don’t you take it easy while I make us something to eat. You must be starving.”
Yasmin curled up on a chair, “I felt like I haven’t eaten in two years. Oh wait, I didn’t.”
Ennis gave a small chuckle which died on her lips as she realized Yasmin was being serious. Instead, she ducked back into the kitchen, and dug through the refrigerator. Ennis frowned as the only thing worth cooking was a lasagna in the freezer. She pulled it out, and let the oven to preheat.
It was while she was digging through the cupboards to find something to go with the meal when she heard muffled sobs coming from the living room. Cracking open the door, Ennis saw Yasmin scrolling through a phone quite dated by modern standards, tears streaming down her face.
“What’s wrong?” Ennis asked gently, noting that Yasmin must have been checking social media while she was busy in the kitchen.
Yasmin sniffed, “Ever thought the world might be better if you disappeared? I sometimes thought that with my mom. I mean, my dad left us because of me. She…she was seeing someone a few years back. There was talk of marriage, then he left…because of me.”
Yasmin held up a phone, revealing her mother, couple years older than the last time Ennis saw her, smiling and hugging a strange man, and a young baby rested on her hip. “Turns out I have a sister,” Yasmin continued, “Guess I was right; the one thing preventing my mother from being really happy was me.”
Ennis knelt by the chair, pressing her head against Yasmin, holding her face between her hands, “Baby, don’t ever think that. Your mother…she was devastated. She left…she left because staying held too much pain.”
Ennis swallowed, “She wasn’t the only one flailing when you were gone. I…I was in a dark place. The woman I…I loved…taken from me, the one I almost killed…” Tears started to stream down Ennis face, and she wiped her nose with sleeve of her blouse.
“I…I can’t speak for anyone else, but you will always be important to me,” Ennis continued. She walked over to the bookshelf, and pulled a hardback down. “This…this was printed earlier this year. I’m contracted for two more after this. I…I apologize in advance…I…thought you were lost to me forever.”
Ennis pressed the book into Yasmin’s hands, then darted into the kitchen to make dinner while she had the stamina to do so. Looking at the cover, Yasmin felt a shiver as there was an ominous fog surrounding a young woman. She ran her fingers over the embossed title: Mist Taken.
Yasmin curled her legs up, and started to read. Silence filled the house, and she lost track of time until Ennis came out with a steaming pan of lasagna, and bowl of soup.
“This…this about me,” Yasmin said, wonder in her voice, “Well, sort of. I mean, you called her Jasmine, but…”
“I wanted to honor you,” Ennis babbled, her emotional façade breaking down again, “Even if some said I was in it for the money, but…”
Yasmin shot out of the chair, pressing her lips against Ennis’ in desperate need. When the two parted, Yasmin said, “You don’t have to explain. I believe you.”
“Then you’re one of the few,” Ennis laughed, “But then you always assumed the best because of me.”
Yasmin didn’t know how to answer that, but didn’t think she had two. Instead, she pulled out Ennis’ chair, “Maybe we should eat before it gets cold.”