I walked out of the police station with tears streaming down my face. I could feel the pain of loss in my chest like an ice pick being moved around. In my hand I held the paperwork declaring my brother dead. The system had searched for him, and failed. I had little option other than to sign the paper.
“After this much time, the only thing we can do is file the proper paperwork,” the detective had said. “It’s up to you, but there are so many boys and girls out there that could still use us and at this point the likelihood of finding him are just shy of zero.”
I had seen it. The fog. It was rolling in from the woods in a thick wave of white. Paul had been on that side of the yard. He ran to the edge of the fog when he missed catching the ball I had thrown. The fog jumped suddenly. It was like the fog was a predator that was snatching up a meal, two feet away then in an instant a white blanket between my brother and me.
I wiped the tears from my face, thinking about how our parents had died in the car accident two years ago and he wouldn’t know. He couldn’t know. I was alone now. Literally and legally.
I made the trip home in record time, turning onto the long gravel driveway. My car ground the stones under its tires making the sound echo through the woods as I stared out still expecting to see him walking toward me through the seemingly constant fog that spread between the trees.
I parked my car out front of the old house and walked up to the porch. I didn’t know what I would do with myself now. No hope of finding him, mom and dad were gone, and I lived in this three bedroom house out in the woods alone. I slid my key in the lock, and opened the door.
Fog exploded through the doorway toward me. Whiting out everything I could see. I fell to the porch covering my head as I screamed in terror. I could feel the fog touching my skin and every nightmare I had ever had about it flooded back into my mind at the same time.
Then it dissipated. I opened my eyes to find I was lying in the sunshine on my porch. Sunshine I hadn’t seen here in years. I moved to stand up and my hand hit something hard. A baseball rolled away from me and fell off the end of the porch. I followed it and looked over the side, trying to spot it in the shrubs.
“Hello, Henry,” a man’s voice said from behind me.