Terry Thompson sat on the edge of a high wooden bridge that arched smoothly over the swirling waters of a frothy river, his long legs dangling like hung meat. To him, the bridge was just like life, on one side loomed a dead forest of rotting trees and the other side was bristling with tall, green pines. Just like life: reality versus dreams.
His reality was the dead, boney trees.
It was a dark, moonless night and the young man had been sitting for hours. Before that, he was at his bachelor’s party, drinking rum and enjoying lap dances in a hotel room.
His six-foot frame looked awkward on the bridge, almost like a gargoyle perched on at the top of a castle wall. He still had on his black pants and shoes, but his black blazer was hugging a log jutting from the water about fifty yards downstream.
He could still see it.
He could also still clearly see his father interrupting the festivities, cutting the music off.
He kicked off one off his loafers; it tumbled into the water below, sailing away like a fast moving vessel. Terry’s narrow, brown eyes glared into the water, watching it swirl and spin.
Watching the water flow. Moving on.
Seeing the occasional stick, or twig drift out from under the bridge.
“Why?” He wondered, twirling the small, silver cross hanging from his left ear. He looked over at the darkness of the woods. There was nothing to see but outlines. He heard nothing. Even looking down the narrow road, in either direction, there was no life. It was as if this old bridge had been built here, in a forgotten forest, and left for dead.
The perfect place for him.
Terry watched the slow, mesmerizing water.
The ultimate celebration on the eve of the most important day of his life was utterly perfect, until his dad walked in. Head buzzing from too many rounds of tequila, too many toasts by great friends, Terry remembered squinting and straining to verify his dad was actually standing in the room with him. He laughed, offering him a lap dance, but his balding short father was somber and didn’t even crack a grin…
The loud rush of water seemed in tune with Terry’s train of thought.
The never-to-be groom stared down at the rapid waters flowing from under the bridge. Suddenly he wondered how far down his shoe had traveled. Or was it stuck in the sand, under a rock, perhaps? He decided he did not care.
He pushed the other shoe off. Forty feet later, he heard a faint splash.
His face was blank and expressionless. His eyes were narrow slits flooded with tears.
…“Son, there’s been an accident.”…
The fast moving waters didn’t care, they continued to flow below.
Yet, the water was almost friendly, maybe it did care. Maybe it would accept him and take away the hurt.
He knew it was rocky down there from playing in there as a child. The left bank was a sandy incline, peppered with rocks got larger as they approached the middle. The right side was a steep embankment.
The right side, Terry knew, was the deep side, where all the fish lurked. He sat over the left side. That’s were all the large, jagged rocks should be.
(Would it hurt?)
Terry looked down into the river again. “The silent rush of the water would accept anything.” His voice was weak and mumbling, barely audible. “Even me.”
He looked at his dirty, hole-ridden sock and pulled it from his foot. He laughed at the sight of the nasty socks hidden under his expensive suit. He let the worn sock fall to the water.
With the night air tickling his bare foot, he began pulling things from his pockets. A comb, a few scrapes of paper, a wallet, and his cell. He discarded them all, even his phone.
The water accepted them all without comment.
Next, he unbuttoned his white shirt and slipped it off, crumbling it into a ball. “Slam dunk!” He cried.
The white shirt looked like a ghost riding the water.
He covered his left hand over his left ear, closed his eyes, and pulled down sharply. He opened his large hand, seeing the wet earring in his palm. He dropped it.
Terry stood motionless.
A thin line of cold blood chased another line down his almost muscular chest. He breathed loudly, heart thudding, but felt nothing.
Finally, his bloody hand grabbed for the buttons on his pants.
Now the naked man stood on the bridge with his toes just over the edge. Nothing left to do. It was time to finish this. He was charged, buzzing with sick resolve. The only sound was his harsh, sniffling tears and the indifferent current underneath him.
“I can’t live without you, baby!” He screamed, “Oh god, I’m sorry!”
As the momentum began to compel him forward, from behind a creaking board caused him to stop. He wasn’t alone.
Terry turned to see his fiancé at the far end of the bridge, her blond hair flowing and eyes beaming.
“Baby, you’re alive!”
Joy surged through his body momentarily, then he realized he could see through her.
She drifted forward, her feet inches off the wood.
As she approached, he saw her hair wasn’t flowing but burning, and her eyes were deep crimson and filled with hate. Her skin, though transparent, was black and peeling.
She extended her burnt arms, accelerating. As she charged, angry lust melted across her contorted face.
“Cheating bastard!” she shrieked. The words echoed all around him and her accusation blended with other sounds he didn’t realize before, but must have already been there with him—a wolf howling or maybe an owl hooting. Night noises.
The dark had come to life.
Smile draining from his face, he retreated a step. As he tumbled backward off the bridge, the apparition gushed through his body, filling him with an icy cold.
Word Count 1000