Stranger left for the dock early in the morning. It was the time when the mist was the thickest, when the island would show… if it were there.
She walked out to the edge and looked into the mist, glaring white with young sunlight.
He said it was there when you weren’t looking, when you least expected it.
She paced and watched the water, searching for anything unusual.
There was no one else around, but she was afraid a local familiar with the tale might find her there. It would be embarrassing if they asked her why she was there. She had her answer ready.
“I saw the morning mist, and took a break from driving. I’ve been driving three days and you get tired of seeing the world through a windshield,” she’d say.
She wasn’t a bad liar, but not a particularly good one either, and she could only imagine the local grinning at her with a twinkle in their eye.
“You didn’t stop by the Quail and Sparrow last night, did you?” they’d say.
It came with high recommendations. The little eatery was absolutely quaint, with a great selection and the right mix of locals to make you feel as if you had lived in the area all your life. There was an old man by the fire. Large, glassy eyes, darker than chocolate and a line in memory of every expression he had ever made. He told her of an invisible island out on the lake. Said he’d been there and seen fantastic things.
“It appears when you aren’t looking at it,” the sun-worn fisherman had told her, poking at the fire.
The blaze had caught a gleam in his old eyes while he set aside the poker and settled back into his chair.
“Then how do you know it’s there?” she had said.
“There are ways to see it,” he had smiled. “You just can’t be looking at it.”
“How can you possibly see something you can’t look at?” she had said.
“There are ways,” he had smiled and went back to poking the fire.
There was no reason she should believe him. No reason why she should have come.
He probably had nothing better to do than prank imaginative, headstrong youngsters with outlandish tales. Yet, no one else had questioned his story.
She wondered how many times he had told that tale, and who had actually come. She couldn’t have been the only one to have believed those glinting eyes. Now that she thought about it, there wasn’t enough room on the map for an island that size in this lake, even if it were fantastical.
The sun strolled up higher into the air and the mist thinned as if blown off by a long, drawn-out sigh.
She lifted her eyes to squint at the sun with the wild thought that perhaps the island was there.
“It appears when you aren’t looking at it.”
The old man must be crazy.
“I should get back on the road,” she said.
There was no island in the mist.