Stranger in the mist.

A digital artist has been wanting to finish a novel he has been working on for over six years. The digital artist wants to share the journey he had while traveling with his aunt. He recently lost a good friend and is heading to his memorial service. One of his passions is photography, and he decided to stop at one of his favorite spots growing up.

Big Sur, California, is a place that brings your senses alive—located in one of the most scenic and pristine areas on the west coast. Its rugged and misty-covered mountains make you lost as if you are traveling in an undiscovered stretch of coastline no one has seen. When the digital artist arrived, it was 5:30 in the morning. The fog was so thick it was the only thing he could see. He was driving blind.

He decided to pull over. The digital artist rolled down the car window and could hear the seals down below on the beach. Then, he had a thought, let me put on my shoes and take a look. So, he drove down to the next pullover first before putting on his boots and getting out of the car when he had another thought. He needed to drive to another pullover.

So the digital artist did so. When he got to the next pull-out, a white car with a sticker that said “peace please” was parked next to the edge of the cliffs. The car windows were covered entirely in steam as if someone had been sleeping in the car. The digital artist walked over to the edge of the cliff because he could hear the seals still calling out. Unfortunately, the fog was so thick the digital artist could see a bank of fog and a small outline of the cliffs. That’s all.

The digital artist heard a noise while looking down the cliff when he started to see something coming up from the ocean floor. The digital artist’s thoughts were of love. Yet, he had an aching pain that felt as if it was attached to his heart; it was not his pain he was feeling.

As it got closer, the attached pain in his heart was getting stronger. Then, finally, he sees it is a tall, slender man. He is in nice clothes but dirty from his hike down and up from the cliffs. He says, “Hello could you give me a jump start”? The Digital artist says, “Sure, no problem, my brother. Are you on vacation”? He says, “No, I’m here to finish writing my novel.”

The digital artist says, “No way, that’s what I’m doing”! So the Stranger in the mist says. “What do you mean”? The digital artist reply’s “I am going to Washington State for a friend’s funeral.” “After the funeral, I’m going to Mount Hood National Forest for a week to finish writing my novel.” “I have been working on it for over six years, and it’s time to finish it.”

The Stranger in the mist says, “Why do you need to finish it”? The digital artist says, “It’s because it is about love.” The Stranger in the mist says, “I usually feel paranoid and have a lot of mental illness, but you have an openness about yourself.” “It’s as if you and I have met before.” “Have we met before,” the Stranger in the mist says? “I don’t trust people anymore.”

The digital artist says, “I am not sure. Maybe our souls are long-lost friends.” Then he says, “I get why you would be paranoid because I have a family member who works for the CIA, and I get it, my brother.” The Stranger in the mist says, “Wow, you must be trustworthy.” “Why would someone tell them they know someone who is paranoid? Bring up the CIA”!

The digital artist says, “Everything we talk about will be about truth and love, my brother.” So the digital artist says, “Tell me about your novel”? The Stranger in the mist says, “He was an activist in Russia and thought the people he could trust got him thrown into prison. He got out of prison 23 years ago and has been in the US for ten years”. He continued to tell the digital artist, “It’s based on his life. He is writing about his struggles with mental illness and his activism in Russia.”

The digital artist says, “My brother, talk to me about your mental illness.” The Stranger in the mist explains, “Both his parents have dementia.” The digital artist asked him, “Do you believe you may have dementia because your parents have it”?

The digital artist says, “I asked because I cared for my aunt with dementia for 16 years. So I understand your frustration, my friend.”

The Stranger in the mist says, “I am a real son of a bitch. I can’t convince my parents to do anything. Their lives are immersed in a misery of confusion and anger. I am not sure if it’s hereditary.”

The digital artist says, “This is fantastic!”

The Stranger in the mist says, “What’s so fantastic?

“Well,” the digital artist says, “You said you’re a son of a bitch!”

“What’s so fantastic about that?” says the Stranger in the mist.

“My friend, you are aware that you are a son of a bitch! That means you can change yourself! I am sure that your mom is not a bitch, so why say it or live it. If it’s not your truth.”

The Stranger in the mist says, “Why do you care?”

The digital artist says, “Because I love you, my friend.”

A small gentle stream of tears fell down the Stranger in the mist cheek. Then, finally, the Stranger in the mist says, “I am very uncomfortable with the way I feel right now.”

“Tell me, my friend, why are you feeling so?” says the digital artist?

“I’m not sure if I have ever felt what I am feeling in this moment of vulnerability.” “Or be it in reality.” So says the Stranger in the mist. “Unfortunately, the digital artist says people are running around this world treating themself as a son of a bitch and treating others the same way and are unaware of their behavior. I attest you are aware. Change is your friend,” so says the digital artist.

“I have had to make many changes in my life,” says the digital artist, “and I am working on more.” “One was I had to get help for my compulsive behavior. When I would get stressed or depressed, I would well well” “would what,” says the Stranger in the mist? “Please don’t laugh, but I would buy marbles.” Says the digital artist.

The Stranger in the mist says, “Your joking?” “No, I had four 5X5 storage units full of them. They become a big problem in my life.” “Change can be the catalyst to a new a rewarding life.” “It’s up to us to see when change is required.” So says the digital artist.

The Stranger In The Mist looks down at the sand while a small blue-colored crab slowly crawls by. Then he looks up and says, can I hug you?

The digital artist says, “sure.” The Stranger in the mist gently whispers in the digital artist’s ear like he was slowly blowing a dandelion. “I love you, Michael.” The digital artist says, “I love you, my friend.”

By Michael Vance Pemberton based on a true story.

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