The old road bridge rests, a sleeping elephant spanning the gully where the
trains come and go.
Strengthened and renovated with a hard-earned face-lift, shadows dance on her struts and spans in the late afternoon light. Iron pieces bolted into shape, she’s a solid, reliable piece of Edwardian engineering, functional with her own quiet beauty.
Who has she borne before us? The poet Auden? The woman who discovered pulsars? The city’s chocolatiers? Perhaps the Astronomer Royal, or maybe even Frankie – titter ye not.
The traffic she bears comes into the city from the south and leaves for the country villages in the north. Pedestrians and cyclists, cars and vans and trucks and big long buses press for space during a rush-hour that’s far heavier than anything that Mr Handyside could have imagined when he designed her in 1911.
As the night draws down, she’s lit, an animated sculpture showing off her elegant angled girders. None of the graffiti is worthy of her, not witty, nothing faintly approaching Banksy’s artistic endeavours. She wears only tags and mutant genitalia, black felt pen scrawls on her pale grey skin.
Late some nights, there’s a jumper, someone who’s decided to spend their last minutes with her. She’s a bridge not an end-point, never built for this kind of departure.
Look closely as you walk by and you can see where she’s breaking down, where the rust blossoms are forcing the giant Meccano pieces apart, attacking and pitting cast-iron until she spalls, weeping orange tears.
First published by Flash Frontier, April 2015
FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words). So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.