When I stepped outside, the cold slid across my face like a veil. I held the door open a crack, letting the warmth ooze out behind me and around me, then I closed it and kept walking down the street, still not sure where I was. The fog closed around me like cotton balls, and I could hardly see where I was going. All that I could really make out were the shops along my side of the street. They had their windows made up all Christmasy, with trees and fake snow around these great gift ideas, like diamond rings and home entertainment systems, that all must have cost a goddamn fortune. I didn’t see any tea-steepers, though.

I stopped at one window with some mannequins in it that were modeling the latest winter fashions. One of them was wearing this scarf that I really liked. I just stood there, in the cold and the fog, imagining myself wearing that gray scarf. I would’ve looked real good in it too. But it started to feel kind of creepy. Pretty soon, the mannequin started to look like me. I don’t think it was the alcohol; I was starting to sober up after that tea and the walking, but I couldn’t look into the window without seeing myself standing back there, behind the glass, staring right back out. I know it sounds crazy, but I almost started to panic. I was scared that if I stood there too long, in the seeping fog, I would melt through the glass and turn into that mannequin behind the window, with empty Christmas boxes at my feet. That my only usefulness would be to show off sweaters and beanies and expensive furniture and tapestries. I turned away from the window and started walking down the street as fast as I could. Funny, though, I looked damn good in that scarf.

The fog was sticking to my coat, beading up like dew and shimmering in the dim electric light. There wasn’t any point in wiping it off though. It wouldn’t have made any difference. There’s no way of getting away from the fog, not with an umbrella or anything. Anyway, I kind of liked the way it made me look. All silver, like a fucking knight in shining armor.

I walked like that for a while, till it got real bad. The fog was dripping off me in little rivers and my hair was sticking to my head. I was cold. I was afraid I might catch pneumonia, and I still had no idea where I was. I noticed some lights down the street a ways, kind of half glowing in the haze. When I reached them, I found these maps of the city behind a piece of glass. The glass was probably there to keep off the rain and fog, but it wasn’t working too well because the fog had made its way through the cracks, bleaching and wrinkling the paper behind.

© Reed A Raymond 2011