This visual fiction is the second picture I’ve used of this bridge. I like the fog on it, since it gives a much different feel. Plus, the first Visual Fiction I did, The Bridge, didn’t have a story with it. This story is the beginning of a longer one I might write sometime.
The last time I saw my son Seth was when I sent him over the bridge to go to school. The first day of Grade 4. I should have gone with him all the way to school, but that’s easy to say now. He wouldn’t have wanted me to anyway; he was so independent and on that day what he really wanted to do was cross the bridge by himself. I waved good-bye and watched as he disappeared into the fog.
I started my shift at the garage. From where I worked I could see across the river to the island where half the town was located, including the school. The fog usually burned off by about ten but that day it remaining like a blanket on the river.
About 11:00, there was a sudden crash; not an explosion, but a rending, tearing sound, as loud as a jet engine. Everyone ran outside, looking here and there and trying to figure out what had happened, until Randall Haskins tried to drive over to the pharmacy, across the bridge. I heard the sound of screeching tires and then Randall’s hysterical voice shouting, “The bridge! The bridge is gone.”
It wasn’t gone, but there was a large hole ripped from the center span of it, at least fifty feet wide. No one could see any reason for it, nor was there any concrete or rubble in the water below. The police chief took a couple of men and motored across in a boat to check on things on the other side.
They never came back. They didn’t even radio in after they went onshore. Another boat went over and the same thing happened. In total, seven boats went to the island that day and none of them were ever seen again. The police cordoned off the shore on both sides of the river all around the island and prevented anyone else from trying to go over there.
The fog cleared up the next day and we all saw the island sitting there in the river. Not a single person was visible all that day. The next day, the national guard sent four boats of armed soldiers across. We watched them with binoculars as they searched the streets. They reported back that no one was there, but we noticed as we watched that as they went in and out of the buildings, their number slowly decreased. Sometimes men would go into a building and not come out again. The men on shore tried to warn them, but they couldn’t get through and eventually the soldiers all went into buildings and disappeared.
Now the island just sits there, off limits to everyone. I stare obsessively at it whenever I can, trying to catch any glimpse of movement, trying to see my Seth. I can’t help it. I almost welcome the foggy days, when the misty white curtain obscures my view and numbs my pain and nagging worry, at least for a little while.