Bridge #writephoto

beneath-the-bridge

I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, which is why I never told my mum about the man below the bridge. She wouldn’t have tolerated him with his frayed coat and dirty fingers. His eyes had a little shine in them, even in the shadows, as if he’d left a light on inside his head.

After my chores, I’d ask mum for jam sandwiches, biscuits, and a sliced apple for a tea party with my friend under the bridge. She thought the old fellow was a fairy child, flitting in my imagination like a moth, and she liked me out from under her feet.

My doll, Miss Penny, and I would tote our basket down the hill and tiptoe across the stepping-stones. My friend waited in our castle’s cool darkness while I propped Miss Penny up against the wall and brewed pretend tea. We’d share our feast and sip from invisible cups as proper as the queen. Miss Penny always smiled, enjoying the party as much as we. Then he’d tell us stories of his travels to India and Africa, of riding elephants, and diving for pearls, and climbing mountains in the snow. One day, Miss Penny decided to stay in the castle under the bridge to keep my friend company.

Then, my mum packed us up, and we moved to America.

That was forty years ago.

My husband is golfing with colleagues, and I have a precious morning to wander through the old haunts of my tender years. I rent a car for a drive into the country. The old home is still there, smaller and empty. The roof sags and ivy consumes the sunny walls. But it isn’t the home I’ve come to visit. I tote my basket, my jam sandwich, biscuits, and apple down the hillside and tiptoe across the stones through the stream.

I know my friend isn’t there, but the eight-year-old child inside me hopes anyway. I hear his stories whisper from the castle beneath the bridge, in the brook and trees, in summer’s heated air, and I find his bones, Miss Penny still smiling in his arms.

**

Thanks once again to Sue Vincent for her wonderful Thursday photo prompt. Visit her at The Daily Echo and join the fun.

178 thoughts on “Bridge #writephoto

  1. Beautiful. Your story touched something in my soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Val Boyko says:

    Lovely Diana! Thank you 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got teary-eyed and emotional. The story seemed so real. Well-done!
    I find it interesting, too, that when I read only the first phrase up to the first comma, I thought the child was inside the dark cave-like area of the bridge and looking out, like the viewpoint in the photo. I thought they had run away and hidden there, not from the stranger, but from the one who forbade them to talk to the stranger anymore. Apparently I would have written a different story, or perhaps a similar one, but where the child wanted to be with the stranger so much that they rebelled against their parent – at least temporarily. Without the idea from your first phrase, I definitely would have had the story from someone hiding there as a refuge and looking out. I love prompts too. Such fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful, nostalgic and poignant, Diana. I love this story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ~M says:

    Awww…..this reminded me of one of my own childhood memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 😢 I cried. A beautiful sad sweet story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. reocochran says:

    Wonderful story weaving, Diana! This was so real and charming. I thought for sure you wrote an autobiographical sketch. Happy Monday! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sacha Black says:

    WOAH! not the ending I expected at all!!! what a brilliant piece of flash 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading. I was going for a commentary on homelessness, the innocence of childhood, and the value of the unlikely friendship. So glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sacha Black says:

        Well it was beautiful. I actually found myself wanting to know what happened next, what she did, how she felt, what memories they had together under the bridge. Yet another story that has legs. Beautiful, if a tiny bit harrowing (in a good way) 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Holy crap…I didn’t know where this was going! 😀

    I love this. Love it! Amazing imagery and emotion in this one. Beautifully done, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. inesephoto says:

    Diana, it is the nicest little story ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a touching story. Very nicely written too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well written! I enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

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