Arica is a port town on the border of Peru and Chile. If the South American continent were a T-bone steak, you’d find Arica on the left, at the little corner where the filet meets the strip steak.
Elias lives with his parents in a row house bleached white by the sun. His mother has a hair business on the first floor, and his father works at the consulate. Sometimes, Elias likes to ride through the town where green palms and red bougainvilleas stand against a blinding sky. The dry air envelops his face until he sees it, the Pacific, in the distance at the edge of the earth. It is never a dull sight. Until the fog.
One evening, the weatherman on the noticiero points to a large purple blob on the screen.
“It’s going to be a hard one,” his father says. Elias goes with his father to the store. They purchase batteries, canned food, water, and candles.
The next morning, Elias finds himself in a thick cloud. He reaches out his hand but cannot see it. He feels around the floor with his feet and lets his hands guide him to the hallway outside of his room.
“Mom? Dad?” Elias calls out.
“We are here, mijo,” his mom says, “Your breakfast is at the table. Be careful as you move around.”
Elias feels the pit in his stomach. Four days of fog desert. Four days without seeing. It fills him with dread. Elias feels his way to the kitchen table, and cannot not see his mother at the table or the stove. He does not know where she is exactly. He eats his beans and does not move for a while.
In this way, the days pass. Elias ambles about the house, reaching out for walls and furniture, every day more absorbed inside his mind. The forth day comes and goes. And the fifth, and sixth. A week into the fog, Elias hears his mother sobbing somewhere in the kitchen.
“Mijo,” she says, “I’m so tired of being tired. I’m tired of this fog. I used to love cooking. Now I hate doing everything.”
Elias understands. He feels the same way. He spends most of the day in bed now.
“Mami,” he says, “remember that this one will pass, as the rest have passed. Soon you will feel like yourself again.”
Elias walks toward the sniffling. He reaches out into the fog, and finds his mother.