by Sarah Kirchner ’21
“Baby, look at me!” I yelled at Daryl behind me. I balanced on the edge of the sidewalk as we found our way home. It was late at night, most likely sometime around 1 a.m. I stopped paying attention to the time at some point or another. We were at a party down the street from our apartment with our friends, but Daryl was getting tired so I agreed to leave. The weather was starting to get bad because of the expected thunderstorms that were coming in the next day, so I wasn’t too opposed to the idea of leaving. In the distance, we heard thunder.
“Can you please start walking normally? You’re going to fall and crack your head open.” Daryl shook his head and jogged up beside me. He took my hand into his own so that I was more stable.
“You’re no fun. What happened to Fun Daryl?” I pouted at him and stopped walking. Recently, he had always been ruining my good mood. I was just trying to be funny, but his abrupt attitude made me get upset. It was happening more and more lately.
“What are you talking about?” He grumbled and let go of my hand. I crossed my arms and glared at him. “I’m the same guy I was when you first met me!” He lifted his hands to show it was still him, but I didn’t recognize his character.
I scoffed at that. That was far from the truth. I had met Daryl at a karaoke bar uptown. My friends had dared me to go up and sing a song, and I was so terribly awful. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life, but Daryl had jumped on stage with me and sang the Mamma Mia song by my side. I admired his outgoing personality, and I fell in love with him soon after.
“You changed after you got this new job of yours,” I told him flat out. He needed to hear it, even if he didn’t think it was true.
“Kasey, this is my dream job. I’m writing for the city’s newspaper! I’m so incredibly lucky for this opportunity,” he fought back. He always had to reassure me that that was his dream job, but I knew it wasn’t. He was miserable working nine to five shifts and was too exhausted whenever he came home to spend time together. It was becoming exhausting for me as well.
“Yeah? Then why do you have to keep reminding yourself that?”
“I’m not reminding myself, Kasey. I have to keep telling you because you don’t seem to get it.”
“Whatever, Daryl. I just wanted to have a nice night out with our friends, but those days seem to be over.” I started walking again. It was getting colder out and suddenly a fog had crept in. Dark clouds hung above us, and my feelings mimicked the frothy air.
“The weather’s crappy. It was time to leave anyway.”
I ignored him and kept walking further into the fog. It was thicker than it had been when we left the party. I couldn’t even see the next house a couple yards ahead of me.
“Can you stop walking so fast please, Kase? The weather is getting worse,” Daryl was saying behind me. He was right. I could feel the wind picking up and my hair was blowing everywhere. I wished I had brought my coat, but I figured we weren’t going far from our place. I was also deciding to be stubborn. Daryl wanted to be a buzzkill, so I would be just as annoying back.
“Kasey, seriously!” Daryl started to raise his voice.
“I can’t seem to hear you, Daryl. The wind is just too loud!” I called back to him. I moved deeper into the fog. The grassed courtyard was coming up ahead of us, and we just had to cross that to get to our apartment on Main Street. It was hard to see, though. I felt as if I was walking in the clouds and there wasn’t another soul on the planet. Slowly, drops of water began to fall down on me. I looked up and saw that the sky was swallowed with even more dark clouds.
“Kasey! Stop this. I can’t see you anymore,” Daryl shouted from somewhere behind me. I spun around. I was now on the grass, but I couldn’t tell how far across the lawn I was. When had I first felt the grass under my feet? Suddenly, the world wasn’t making sense anymore. The gray air around me had consumed everything.
“Daryl?” I yelled. I realized I was being stupid. Daryl was no longer the person I thought he was, but our argument could have waited until we got back to our place. It was dumb to have started the fight in the middle of the storm. The rain was becoming more dense than the fog, and my eyesight was manipulated because of the raindrops on me. I didn’t know it was going to be so bad.
“Kasey, where’d you go?” I heard his voice from far away. Had he already crossed the courtyard? Or was he still on the sidewalk, and I was the one who had crossed the grass? “Stop messing with me Kasey.”
“Daryl!” I continued to scream for my boyfriend. “Daryl, come here!”
“Kasey?” I heard again. His voice was quiet. He no longer sounded worried. “There you are, baby.” My heart calmed down and I smiled. He had found me. “I got so worried. Hold my hand so we don’t lose each other again.”
I turned around to see him, but he wasn’t there. My eyes narrowed and I looked all around me. Everything was still gray. There was no shadow in sight. “Daryl, I don’t see you. You’re scaring me.” My breathing quickened and my stomach began to knot itself up again. “Daryl baby, please answer.”
There was no answer, though. I pulled out my phone and called Daryl. I held the phone up to my ear and waited to hear his phone ring near me. He had to be somewhere near me. I just didn’t know where. There was no phone ringing around me. All I could hear was the wind and hard rain. My phone stopped ringing, but it hadn’t been sent to voicemail.
“Daryl?” I said into my phone. He didn’t answer. “Are you there, baby?”
In the distance, there was a piercing scream. It was Daryl. It was my baby. Somewhere in the fog, he was in trouble. I dropped my phone into the mud and ran, but I had no idea exactly where or to whom I was running towards.