‘The Bridge’ by Rebecca Fraser

There once was a bridge that no one ever forsake to cross. It stretched across a stream that led in the direction of the nearest town. And within that town, everyone knew about the bridge. Tales would go around the town about how dangerous and terrifyingly haunted it was. Of course, no one had the courage to find out the truth, except one young teen who adventured out into the woods to find this monstrosity so called a bridge.

As they approach the bridge, the air is oddly thick. Trees are left bare without their leaves, the branches almost resembled long arms that made the teen feel distress. The grass is worn and dry, every step the young teen took made a crunch below their feet. Their eyes trail to a path of cobble stone which is connected to the bridge. The young individual looked upon the bridge to feel a sense of uneasiness all over their body. The barrier of the bridge has vines covering it of its mucky sea green leaves. From where the person is standing, made the bridge look endless from the foggy atmosphere that prevents them to see the other side. “Beyond the bridge would just be a continuous pathway of a lifeless forest but, what if it something so incredible that no one ever could imagine.”, the teen ponders to themselves. And with that thought in mind, a figure can be seen stumbling towards the teen. A wrinkly old man, with droopy, light skin, grins at the young individual. His back slouches, bending downwards ever so slightly, his long trench coat covers most of his body shape. He stares at the teenager for a while and then points at the bridge with his shaky, skinny finger.

“You wondern’ whas on the other side? Well, lad… dinny make those daft stories stop ya.” The man spits out.

“What do you mean daft stories?” The teen asks distinctly, the old man’s eyebrows rises, he begins to smirk at the young boy.

“Yer-r an outsider I see. Dis bridge hasn’t been walked on since when I twas a little boy.” His croaky voice answers as he tugs the teens shirt and turns them to the direction of the town.

“The town think dis bridge is haunted but nah it just those petty wee lies going a ’boot. I should keen, my own dad built it, best work he ever done,” He then looks over to the boy with the bright jade eyes. His hair was neatly combed back, his brunette hair complimented his green eyes.

“Whas your name? Gary? John? Scott, maybe?”

“It’s Harold, sir. Me and my mother just moved in about 4 weeks ago and I was informed about this bridge. I don’t understand why everyone talks about it, isn’t it just a bridge?”. The man laughs hysterically, before realising that the boy, Harold was being serious.

“The bridge has had its worst of times, ya know. Look at the state of it, rotting away just like ma self.” He exclaims before taking a second to think, he then reaches inside his trench coat and hands over an old journal to Harold.

“Here have dis, my dad wrote bout’ the bridge durin’ his lifetime and I tell you now lad, dis is worth it. Also, might as well you keep the journal, I no longer need it, fed up readin’ it repeatedly.” He jokes as he turns his back on the young teen. Harold places his hand on his shoulder, handing back the book to him.

“I can’t have this, it’s just awfully rude of me to take something that your dad wrote. Why do you want me to keep this journal?” The old man faces to Harold, his nose twitches ever so slightly.

“Read it and find out, trust me.” And then the old man strolls of with his trench coat dragging of the ground. He then disappears into the dark bushes and Harold can no longer see him. He felt like he should of ran after him and insist to give it back, but the old man’s words kept echoing in his head, ’Read it and find out, trust me’.  Harold then came to his senses and leans against the barrier of the bridge, opening the journal. The pages are sticky and has an aging brown colour to it.  He reads the first words on the page,

‘1923, Mark and his lass getting engaged’

‘Me and my wife decided to go visit the bridge and show her how well done it was. She was dead proud of me once we came by the stream and she told me that the bridge look like it belonged there. My attention was caught by my mate Mark, on the bridge with his lass, Laura. That boy knew exactly how to propose, that day was one of the best in summer. I never seen the water so reflective before and there were so many animals in one place. Me and my wife thought it be best to wait until Mark finished off proposing. It reminded is of my own proposing, although I just said it to Aimee that night. I saw Laura’s mouth open in surprise when the ring appeared up of Mark’s pocket. She was almost crying of happiness even my own wife started to bawl her eyes out. Woman are too emotional, but I told Aimee that and she just slapped is against the head, she canny take a joke, never has. While watching from afar, I remember saying to myself that I want my own child to grow up falling in love like this. Just the way they held each other after she said yes was too romantic, even for me. Aimee ended up dragging is along to congratulate the engaged couple. Her and Laura went off to see the ring on her hand as for me and Mark, we just nodded at each other. Even though it wasn’t much, I felt like if this bridge wasn’t here, they wouldn’t have the perfect day and perfect place to do this. I am the one who suggested the proposal to Mark.’

Harold flips over to the next page to see a new entry that the old man’s father wrote down,

 ‘It was a Friday morning and my son has come to age where he wanted to start exploring what was around him, so today I took him down to my bridge. I told him that I build the bridge with few of my mates and that I hope that one day he makes something that he is proud of. The boy just ran about up and down the bridge despite me telling him that he was gonna fall. And what did that stupid boy do? Fell on his knees, scraping the skin off. I told him to stop running bout ten times but kids these days don’t listen at all. He started to whine about his knee, and I told him to let is see it. The wee dafty’s leg was bleeding and I had no choice to wipe the mess with my favourite hanky. As I took the hanky out, Jason looked at me all worried. I asked him what was wrong, and he told is that I couldn’t use the hanky that his mum gave is on our first date. I said that it is was just a piece of cloth and cleaned up his wound. I wished I didn’t bring the hanky because I was trying to show the boy that he should care about the things he cares for. But I underestimated him, and he knew that I didn’t care about the hanky but that I only care about him and his safely. My wee boy is going to grow up a good lad, I just know it.’

The teen stops reading for a moment and glances at the bridge. He could see that it doesn’t look as scary, after knowing that there once were people living around here. But his question is that why they weren’t here now. What happened to make everyone hate the bridge so much?

‘I was told devastating news today, I couldn’t believe it at first. I never thought that Brian Watson would take his own life on the bridge that I built. I almost forgot about the bridge overall when me and my family moved down into Glasgow in 1967. I just remember my wife coming into the kitchen with her face tripping, and she held a note tightly in her hands. I asked her what was wrong, but she didn’t say anything, so I took the note off her and opened it. As soon as I read what his mum wrote about what happened, I told Aimee that we need to go back home. She fought about it for a while but then she finally came to her senses and came down with me. We thought it would be respectful to visit Brian’s family, and apologise about the incident that has affected them. I remember I snuck out later that evening and headed down to the bridge. Once I got down there, it was closed off and I remember the chills that went down my spine. Brian was a good lad, so talented with his music skills. He was never apart from his guitar, in my opinion he played it the best out of the whole country. I am sitting here thinking to myself that no one would want to walk on my bridge ever again. I don’t blame them-’

The words abruptly end, and Harold is left in confusion. What was the man going to say? Why did he stop writing? All these thoughts were in his head, but one stood out. What is on the other side of the bridge? He slowly closes the book and sets it down onto the barrier and look intently at the other side of the bridge.  He places one foot in front of the other and then he proceeds to walk faster. He was crossing the bridge, something no one wanted to do. He knew that it could be nothing on the other side but what if he was wrong. Soon enough the once thick air became clearer, and the presence of fear disappeared. Before he knew it, his foot landed on soft, lime green grass. Harold sees the most beautiful flowers scattered across the ground, and it finally made sense of what the old man’s father saw when he was younger. The bridge leads to one of the most beautiful forests that Harold has ever seen in his life. At that moment, the boy felt like he had to run back home and tell everyone of this place. As Harold ran across the bridge and down the path to the town, he left the bridge a different place from when he arrived.

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Published by

Lesley Atherton - Author

I'm an author of novels, short novels, and short stories, and have contributed to quite a few anthologies. I'm also Director of Scott Martin Productions, Publisher.