Tag Archives: bridge

Holding the Bridge – A Story Reframed

I’m very interested in framing: what a story shows and what it doesn’t through its words. This is especially pertinent with the 100-word Friday Fictioneers stories I write every week, which have to show a complete story through a 10×10 aperture. That often means that important details and implications are left up to the reader to infer. Sometimes they do and sometimes they come away with a very different message from what I put into it.

Last week, I wrote the story Holding the Bridge, about a man guarding a bridge to a resort while hungry people came begging and eventually swarmed across the river anyway. Most commenters assumed he had been killed by the mob, which was an interesting idea and worked with the story, but wasn’t what I had intended at all.  So, with more words to work with, here is the story as I intended it.

Holding the Bridge – A Story Reframed

I stood on the bridge in my new uniform, picking at the hat’s tight elastic under my chin.

“It’ll stretch out soon,” my boss said. “Once you’ve been here long enough. Remember, this is an easy job: just make sure no one comes over this bridge without a pass.”

He was right: it was a cushy job at that forgotten back entrance to the resort, sitting in my sagging lawn chair and pulling the sticky hat elastic away from my sweaty skin. Sometimes the shouts of rich vacationers found their way through the dense foliage but mostly there was no sound but the trickle of water and the buzz of vampiric mosquitoes.

Peaceful, at least, until the famine came and desperate people came begging. Then the door at the end of the bridge was kept locked and I was not given the key. Just keep them away, will you?

They came one by one at first. Just a cup of water. Just a bite of bread.

Sorry. I wish I could.

Then more and more. Damn you, you little brat. Let us in!

Sorry.

Where’s your humanity?

Sorry.

I stood at the end of the bridge with that single, hollow word on my tongue while my freshly-pressed company hat soaked up my sweat and its accursed elastic choked off my air supply.

I watched as they finally threw sticks and garbage into the river, choking the flow and making the bridge that I could not provide. As darkness fell, I took off my jacket and added it to their effort.

Soon they started to clamber across. Just before I went down to help them across, I pulled off the hat, snapping the elastic.

It never stretched out, I thought. I wouldn’t have wanted it to.


Holding the Bridge – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

Holding the Bridge

I stood on the bridge in my new uniform, picking at the hat’s tight elastic under my chin.

“It’ll stretch out soon,” my boss said. “Remember, no one comes over this bridge.”

It was a cushy job at that forgotten back entrance to the resort.

Until the famine came and desperate people came begging.

I stood and watched as people pleaded, cursed, then died.

I stood and watched as they choked the river with sticks and garbage and clambered across.

bridge

When the boss reached the bridge amid the chaos, all he found was a bridge attendant’s hat, the elastic snapped.


Standing Between Realities – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

 

Standing on the Edge of Realities

“I’m such an idiot! I walked through that arch, back to this world, and I find her sleeping with my co-worker. I came back—gave up paradise—all for her! Stupid! I can’t go back now—the magic’s all gone—and I’m stuck forever in this tepid modern world. I just want to belong somewhere: I’m only an outsider now.”

The cop was having a heck of a first day on the job. “That’s terrible, sir. Really. If you’ll just step back from the edge of the bridge, I’ll buy you a coffee and you can tell me more about it.”


The Modern Troll – Visual Fiction

I took this picture on a rafting trip I did last Friday. It was a perfect day for it. I’ll have to share more pictures later.

taken in Bongdong, Korea

taken in Bongdong, Korea

Call me a traditionalist. Others of my kind have moved on to more modern types of employment: collection agents, airport security screeners, marketing executives. Some have made a name for themselves commenting on Youtube videos. Not me though. I’m stuck here under this bridge, trying to make an honest living scaring people into giving me tolls.

They never stop nowadays though, roaring past in their cars and trucks at a million miles an hour. My first day on the job, I jumped out and tried to scare one into stopping.

It was a tractor trailer. I was in the hospital for a month. Thank God for the restorative properties of pixie dust.

I still try to keep up appearances. Every now and then I can get some pocket money from a kid on a bike, but even they have credit cards more often than not and I don’t mess around with plastic.

It’s just getting harder, you know?


The Sundering Fog – Visual Fiction #22

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.

Taken in Wanju, South Korea

Taken in Wanju, South Korea

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.


Eye, Bridge – Visual Fiction #17

They say the eye is the window to the soul and as I stare at the lidless empty socket under the bridge, I wonder how far I would have to gaze to find its soul.

“It’s just an illusion,” my friend said, when I mentioned it to him. “Don’t be silly.”

Still, the more I gaze at it, the more the details come together and I see the bridge staring back at me. I almost wish it would blink, yet I hope it never does.

 

 

taken in Rochester, New York

taken in Rochester, New York


Visual Fiction – The Bridge

I really meant to write a story today. I had the idea all sketched out in my head and all I had to do was write it. Unfortunately, I’m giving a presentation at an international English teaching conference in Seoul this weekend and I’m leaving in a few hours. I haven’t even packed yet. So, here is another installment of the Visual Fiction series.

Bridges have always fascinated me. They are connections, as if to two different worlds. They seem so fragile, but are such a vitally important link.

This is one of my photographs. I cross this bridge every Friday to get to school. Does this photograph inspire you? What does it make you think of?


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