Joe Howsin


There was always mist in the city. 

 It sunk claws deep into concrete streets. It wrapped its tendrils up and around the skyscrapers and gently massaged their emaciated forms. It infiltrated universities, offices, coffee shops, banks. It obscured everything, a labyrinth of vapor. It was impossible to cheat because it was unfair itself. Unfair, but democratic; the mist blinded each living thing in the same way. 

Shuffling into winter’s 8 am twilight, the inhabitants of the city poured themselves into the street. Busses roared, neon shone, footsteps drowned in the din. The mist engulfed them as they walked. Shapes began to appear in the mist. Nothing appeared from it, as many so often wished; no manticore or minotaur, no dragons or flying serpents descended from above. Today was like any other, and fantasy died its daily death in the ceaseless machinery. In the mist, bodies became blurred and indistinct: suits and ties and dresses and t-shirts; mothers; children; teachers; students; the homeowners and the homeless. All shapes of infinite complexity, but in the mist, they possessed no colour. 

This year I will be older than my own older brother. He will be eternally that age; will I one day be eternally 80? Or 90? Which is better? Eternal youth or eternal age? The question is meaningless because it cannot be answered, yet it means everything for the same reason. Death may be the only real method of time travel. Everything else is an anachronism. We all grow into ourselves eventually. 

It feels as though the mist will continue forever. The transient, the finite, the delicate: these are the things I like best. Beauty is all the more captivating and precious, knowing it will one day come to an end. Hardships too are easier to bear with some end in sight. The infinite is cruel, the immortal a bully. Every day they appear, asking for every last fiber of skin and droplet of blood. The mist has made the city foreboding and colorless, something formless but powerful hangs above us. It threatens to blow everything away with a mighty sigh of boredom.

Joe Howsin

Joe Howsin is an aspiring writing living in Manchester, UK. His fiction can be found in NotDeer magazine and Horrified, alongside articles and reviews. His short story 'Snapshots' was also a finalist in the London Independent Short Story Prize.