I have been struggling lately with the issue of posting to this blog regularly and creating some kind of rhythm. So I have decided to make Monday the day I post some flash fiction.
Some of them—like the following—are pieces that have been sitting back in the deep, dark, and dusty recesses of my computer’s hard drive. Others will be new. Especially after I run out of old castoffs.
I hope you enjoy this week’s little vignette.
I don’t remember what it was that drove me from the dry shelter and the fireplace of my home out into the misty evening; some unbidden restlessness that wouldn’t be denied, I think. Whatever the reason, I eventually found myself where I now stand, staring at the span of a bridge that penetrates that thick fog, destination unknown.
I have to say that the quiet of the city as I had aimlessly wandered her streets was unnerving. I know the dampening effect that dense fog of this sort can have on sound, but this was different. Noise wasn’t being muffled—it just was not there at all. And even though I had apparently gotten quite turned around as I wandered the streets, I know that I had begun my ambling toward the heart of the city, yet I met absolutely no one in what seemed to be hours.
And now here I am, facing the expanse of a bridge I don’t remember ever encountering before, and completely unable to see where the bridge ends or what it spans. The mist is cool and has thoroughly soaked my hair, and it tickles as drops run down the back of my neck. My glasses are damp and after wiping them dry several times, so is my handkerchief. And although I have not stepped into any puddles that I can remember, I feel wetness creeping through my socks.
Yet I still stand and stare. I feel that there is a decision to make, the obvious one: do I cross or do I turn around and attempt to find my bearings and thus my warm, dry home. One thing is for sure: standing and staring is not one of the options.
I realize that although I had been wandering aimlessly through a city which no longer appears to be the one I thought I was in—and also seems to be completely deserted—I am apprehensive toward stepping onto that bridge and entering the impenetrable blanket of fog. And still there is no sound but that of my breathing. No sound of water or traffic beneath the bridge, no sound of business being conducted either in the city behind me or whatever lay before me, no sound of birds or footfalls, or closing windows or doors or any of a multitude of sounds that, although surely muted by the great dampness that lay upon her, would still surely be perceptible from any city the size of the one I was in when I left my doorstep.
So, what to do? Glancing behind me I find that I cannot see what lay in that direction either, and even more disturbing, that I don’t remember even the smallest detail of my journey to this spot. So to go back is almost as much an unknown to me now as to blindly cross the bridge before me.
I imagine that there is a man very much like me standing at the opposite end of the bridge and having this very same conversation with himself as he peers vainly in my direction, and that whatever I choose to do, he will choose the opposite, so that we will never meet. Or maybe it is my choice that depends on his. I don’t know. And that, of course, is what I fear the most about making this decision.
And then, I wonder if there really is any choice. Can a man, when finding himself at the foot of a bridge choose not to cross? And is it possible to truly go back the way from which he came, even though he may desperately desire to do so. After wandering the hidden, ghostly city for so long, can I actually choose anything but to continue on?
Nothing is certain except for these three things: the knowledge that there is something on the opposite end of the bridge before me, the fact that I have no idea what that something may be, and the realization that I never will until I take my first step forward onto the span.