Lady in White
His father told him not to go out on foggy, rainy nights in winter, when the gray-white rolls over the mountains like a sheet and across the valley. In the morning, his father said, the road would be littered with the bones of those who were foolish enough to travel at night alone. On their walks into town, his father would point out fresh bits of white off in the dirt and grass as his proof. Not once did he ever believe his father. Miguel was no expert on bones, but he was certain many of the "human remains" were from cattle. His father was always a superstitious man, believing in everything from birds that could block out the sun to monsters waiting in the waters pretending to be drowning women. Miguel was content to stay inside and watch the rain and fog from his window. Occasionally, a few travelers passed by their house on such nights. There was one in particular he waited for. A beautiful woman in white walked alone on those rainy, fog-filled nights. He often wanted to call out to her. She never brought an umbrella or a coat, and he worried about her traveling alone when both strange men and animals may be prowling about. He kept the outside of the house well lit to aid her. Tonight, when the blanket of fog was at its thickest and highest he'd ever seen, he saw her familiar silhouette hidden in the mass of gray. With such conditions, he couldn't stop himself from calling out to her to aid her on her journey. Miguel opened the window and called out to her. "Excuse me, Miss! It is dangerous out tonight. Must you reach your destination so soon?" The silhouette stopped. It changed paths and came over towards the house. The fog was so thick he could not clearly see her until she was just before his window, seemingly appearing out of the air. Up close, she was even more beautiful. Her rich, brown eyes were deeper than the earth's warm hues and her long black hair matched well with the dark of night. Her olive skin was lightly visible through her thin white dress. She put her hands on Miguel's through the window. The texture of her skin was soft like silk and cold as ice. "Will you help me? I must reach my home tonight." Her voice was like the rain that night, intense and rhythmic. Miguel couldn't look away from her eyes, as if all of his being was being captured in her gaze. "I will help you. Let me get my umbrella and I will walk with you down the road." "Thank you. I forgot my coat. I'm so cold." She rubbed the back of his hands with her thumbs as she kept her gaze upon his eyes. "You can borrow my coat." Miguel didn't want to move away. He grabbed his coat and umbrella. His heavy coat was draped around her shoulders. Miguel climbed through the window to not alert his father of him leaving and held the umbrella over himself and the woman. "Where to?" "Down the road." She pointed in the direction of the road. It was too foggy for Miguel to see anything. He trusted her guidance as they walked away from the house into the darkness. "Where are you going exactly?" Miguel asked as they walked along. He couldn't see her anymore it was so dark. "Not much farther." She grabbed his hand. He felt the smooth, cold silkiness of it and knew it was her. Miguel gladly held on tightly to her hand. "Is there anything else you need?" "I am very hungry." She said, tightening her grip. Miguel reached into his pocket and pulled out a bag. "I have some dried fruit on me. Would you like that?" "I'll eat soon enough." Miguel was starting to worry. They were going very far from his home. He couldn't see the lights of the house anymore through the thick fog. He wasn't sure he would be able to make it back. The town shouldn't be too hard to find, he reasoned. He decided he would stay somewhere in town that night and come back home in the morning. The storm picked up. Walking forward was getting harder. His feet slipped on the muddy road. The biting coldness of the rain stung against his skin as the wind tried to snatch his umbrella away. He held on to the woman's hand. "It's really coming down. How much farther?" "Not far. Here will do." The woman stopped as the wind stole away Miguel's umbrella. In the morning, when the storm cleared out, Fernando went out to check the house and land for damage. He yelled at his son to come out and help him, but no one responded to his calls. "Lazy boy. Sleeping in again." Fernando went on his way without his son's help as he had no patience today to wait on his son. At the edge of his land, several trees were down. His son wouldn't be enough help to take care of them. Fernando would need to go into town to find more people to help him. He called out once more before leaving for his son to come with him, but no one answered. Fernando noticed his son's window was open. He sighed. "Already left? Why didn't you say something before leaving?" The walk to town was oddly quiet. No birds sang, and no travelers passed through. The road was never very busy at this part of it, but usually there were at least a few people on it at this time of day. Up ahead, he saw something odd. A lone umbrella. Fernando recalled the previous night's conditions. That storm made for ill conditions to travel in, and with the thick fog coming down from the mountain, outright foolish. He reckoned an unfortunate, careless person had met their end in the fog's deadly embrace. He picked up the umbrella, the edges frayed. As he examined the umbrella, the wind blew through and nearly ripped it from his hands. He struggled to keep the umbrella, the wind pulling him slightly off the road. He nearly fell forward after stumbling over something big on the side of the road. Fernando looked back to see what he tripped over. Behind him, a familiar, thick coat laid torn apart and covered in mud. Underneath the dirtied fabric, peeking out from the rips and tears, a pure and clean white matched perfectly with the color of the umbrella in his hands.