The town is small, but the world beyond it is big. So big that she can’t comprehend the vastness of it at all. Not that it matters much at this precise moment. The mist is suffocating. Not just to her, but to everything that exists alongside of her. From the trees to the streets to the bins on the kerb waiting to be emptied—nothing can breathe because of the mist. Rubbing her eyes, Gretchen yawns. Her mittens had only moments before been warm from hanging above the radiator, but now they were damp and unpleasant against her skin. Trudging through the overgrown grass of the front lawn, she mutters to herself as the wetness clings to and then soaks her jeans. She can already feel her bones growing cold, and it seems her blood is thickening. She swears it feels like sludge. Clutching her chest, she winces. From somewhere inside one of the houses across the road, she hears the plinky-plonky keys of a piano. The solemn sounds carrying in the breeze tickle her ears. Lifting her head, her eyes make out swirling shapes in the mist as an unseen car roars past just a few feet away. The roar of the engine is muted, though. Somewhat drowned. The piano seems louder. Treading on the broken slabs of concrete, she turns around and looks back at her bedroom window mournfully. She wishes to return and curl up into a ball again beneath her duvet. She wishes to sleep not for the rest of the day, but forever, like a tiny seahorse crushed on the seabed, or an insect cast in amber since the days of the dinosaurs. Bringing her hands to her mouth, she blows upon the soggy mittens. There’s a flicker of heat in her fingers. A light spark of orange that she sees somewhere behind her eyes. Before she has the chance to relish in its warmth though, it disappears, and so she begrudgingly moves ahead into the whiteness.