In the Dark (Week 2, Day 2)
Darkness thick enough to feel filled the world for as far as she could see. She knew, she remembered, that there were trees lining the rough road but she couldn’t find even hints of them when she squinted. Her only hope of orienting herself now was for a car to drive by, and that was almost as likely as the sun deciding to rise four hours early. She lifted her arm to check her watch and laughed at herself for forgetting how impossible even the simple act of checking the time was in the nowhere she’d found herself.
Keeping herself facing the same direction had become deeply important. It had been over an hour, she was almost sure, since she’d found herself in the midst of the darkness. She could feel the rocks under her feet, and she could smell the sea even if it was shrouded by the darkness. Alternating between squatting and standing was all the movement she’d allowed herself for fear of losing herself while she waited for something to happen.
She’d maintained an almost constant internal monologue, talking herself into a state of relative calm. Everything would be fine was a phrase she’d uttered too many times to count, and those were interspersed with plans for the future and regrets from the past. The past. For as little time as she’d spent out there she’d managed to revisit a remarkable number of missed opportunities. The people she hadn’t reached out to, the steps she hadn’t taken – all of them had played a part in her ending up in the pitch black situation she found herself in, and she knew it.
Without a change in the intensity of the darkness, the world around her was starting to reawaken. She could feel the subtle shift in the air, the movement of creatures she couldn’t see, and the slow increase in temperature. She waited, straining her eyes to find some hint of light coming from somewhere. The light, she told herself, had to come. She didn’t know if it would come from in front of her, behind her, or on her right or left. She hadn’t thought to track the sun before the light disappeared. Why would she have?
She bent her knees, lowering herself until her palms touched the ground. The sharpness of the gravel against the smoothness of her skin was comforting. It felt real. More real than the darkness, and that was enough to keep her looking for the missing sun. She shook her head and banished the idea that the sun, the ever-present sun, could be missing. This, she told herself, was just night. Night was real and normal, just like the gravel she felt her fingers closing around. Night happened and was inevitably followed by day, she just needed to stay calm and be patient.
The wind started to pick up and grew strong enough to lift her hair off the back of her neck. Her skirt moved, too, and she closed her eyes in thanks.
This is part of the 2022 500-Word Short Story project. Comment with “Tell me more” if you’d like to vote for this to move to the next round.