A thick fog swallowed me in darkness.
"Help me," her voice called out. I tried to run forward but my legs wouldn't carry me.
"Please... help me," her weak, broken voice begged once again. Fear pushed me to turn, but everything was too dark. I was blind. I had no light to lead the way.
The dense fog thickened and poured down my throat, clogging my lungs. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move... I couldn't help her.
"I am afraid... I am so afraid...” she sobbed. Her words whirled in the heavy wind, lashing across my face. My eyes closed, unable to cope with the pain in her voice.
"I can't get to you," I shouted as the heavy fog forced me to the cold ground. My hands raked at the hard dirt as I fought to get free.
"I can't... I can't... Go on... I'm so tired..." she cried. I could hear her fading away.
Panic filled my body. I couldn’t lose her. I had to say goodbye.
"No!" I screamed. "Don't leave me!" I clawed harder at the ground, my fingernails snapping under the pressure. No matter how hard I fought to push forward, nothing happened. My heart pounded in rhythm with the rumbling thunder overhead. Cold blood trickled through my body. I couldn't break way. I couldn't get free... I couldn't get free...
Scalding tears filled my eyes as an agonized pain gripped my heart. "I have to say goodbye," I screamed into the nothingness, "Let me say goodbye!" The skin on my fingers tore and bled as the hard dirt turned into broken glass, the sharp edges slicing deep into my flesh.
"Protect them... always protect them... please… please..." she begged. I could hear the defeat in her voice. She was giving up. She was slipping away.
“No! Wait!” I tried to scream, but no noise came from my mouth. I clawed at my throat, but I couldn't make a sound.
A light appeared in the distance, but it was too far from my reach. Dread filled my mind. She was leaving. She was leaving... and I couldn’t say goodbye.
"Wait!" I silently screamed... "I haven’t said goodbye!" But I was trapped here, caged under the weight of the black fog on this cold ground, my frantic voice muted, my body paralyzed.
The fog grew thicker and thicker and the light up ahead dimmed from white to gray. "No," I silently cried, "No!"
Relentlessly, the fog closed in, removing the fading light from view and with it all my hope.
She was gone…
Suffocating with grief, I fought for breath. But there was no more air, the nothingness of the fog was all consuming.
Rage filled tears trickled down my face as I lay here, defeated. I tried to close my eyes, I tried to push the pain into the back of my mind but guilt remained, splintering me from the inside.
The fog pushed down harder, wrapping me tightly in its hold.
Darkness was consuming me. Darkness was taking my soul.
"Goodbye," I mouthed with my final breath, "I just wanted to say goodbye..."
Jerking upright on my bed, I was panting hard at the dream I’d just had, when I heard, “You got a phone call.”
Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I took a deep breath trying to erase the dream that haunted me. My hands were damp with sweat, but I just wiped them on my pants, kicked my feet off the bed and made my way down the hallway to the phone.
“You, Elpi, you’re happening, your debut.”
Every inch of me froze, and I gripped the phone so tightly I thought it might shatter under the pressure. “Vin—”
“You’re ready. Your work is ready. Your collection is a masterpiece and must be shared with the world.”
“Vin… I appreciate everything you’re trying to do for me, but—”
“No buts. It’s all arranged. It’s been worked out. I’ve made this happen for you. You need this, Elpi.”
I worked hard to cool down; hot blood coursed through my veins. I drew in a long, deep breath.
“You’re ready,” Vin pushed, his voice this time less business, less coercive, and more supportive.
But I didn’t want it. None of it.
“Where’s the damn exhibition?” I snapped.
“Elpi. Don’t be this way. You’re an artist—”
“I’m not a damn artist!” I interrupted through gritted teeth.
“You’re an artist!” Vin commanded. “You're the best damn sculptor I’ve ever worked with. Your work surpasses anything I’ve ever seen, including my own work. You’re someone, Elpi. Believe me, you are someone.”
“It’ll be in a smaller gallery, in a smaller museum, in an academic setting. It’s your first exhibit, and it shouldn’t overwhelm you.”