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. Steph McCoy says:

    You are such a gifted writer Diana. This was a lovely story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so beautifully written. Truly accomplished.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ali Isaac says:

    Lovely poignant story, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Antonia says:

    Such a great story! The man under the bridge made such an impression on her. I love that the woman went back hoping… Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You captured the character telling the story so very well, Diana. A chilling tale, yet I found the ending to be a happy one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. KL Caley says:

    Intriguing story! I think you captured the voice of the child excellently. Great post. KL ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my that is wonderful. I worry about the child alone with the stranger, but since this is fiction–and not a murder mystery–she’ll probably be OK. What a lovely story.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh wow. This made me tear up. It’s nice to see the world through the eyes of a child. No prejudice.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Kev says:

    Love the ending!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Joanne Sisco says:

    Such a touching story of innocence … bittersweet loss and yet gain at the same time. I loved that description “as if he’d left a light on inside his head”.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Marjorie says:

    How wonderful that you can look at a photo like that and come up with such a beautiful story. The talent of authors like you never ceases to amaze me. Kudos!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Steven Baird says:

    This was beautiful, Diana. Captivating, with a twist. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Annika Perry says:

    I love this, Diana – a touching unexpected finale that had me in shivers. Think what this friendship meant to him and Miss Penny still there with his bones. Wow! More like this, please!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. arlene says:

    Beautiful….thanks Diana for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Erik says:

    I love that you went heavy on the little details and light on the big ones. Isn’t that how children are (or rather, they have a beautifully different set of priorities and focus, which we’d do well, in many ways, to adopt or regain as adults).

    I still revisit my childhood “special places,” and enjoy them nearly as much. I understand what you mean by “I hear…stories whisper…beneath the bridge, in the brook and trees, in summer’s heated air.” It feels very much like that, those visits to places past.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know what you mean after living for 50 years in New England. One of the disadvantages of moving cross country is those places are far away now. New memories in the making but without the evocative history. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Erik says:

        If you ever make a visit back this way, please let me know!

        Liked by 2 people

          • I can testify, Diana, that Erik will go out of his way to meet you if you’re in his neck of the woods!

            I get back to NY a few times a year, as you both know, and one of my great joys is walking the streets of my youth and revisiting special places, be it my hometown of the Bronx or the Upper East Side where I went to college (and met my wife) or SoHo where I had my first “grown-up” job. Most of the time I enjoy the experience — an exercise in nostalgia and solitude — but every so often I’ll find myself so emotionally overwhelmed by the recognition of the passage of time that I have to leave immediately. As melodramatic as it sounds, I can sense the ghosts of days gone long, long by with me in those places, and it’s too much to bear. I guess I think that if I pass by the elementary school playground, I’ll see my old friends there, or if I walk into the candy store on 235th Street, the old newsprint, four-color comics I used to buy there will still be on the rack. I suppose it’s kind of like what you said in your story, Diana: “I know my friend isn’t there, but the eight-year-old child inside me hopes anyway.” Has a truer sentence ever been written?

            Liked by 3 people

            • Erik says:

              This is deep. And spot on.

              Liked by 2 people

            • What a wonderful comment, Sean. I got all teary reading it – clearly you struck a nerve. I feel that way about Vermont. It’s in the bones, not only in the string of childhood adventures, but the imprints of those who shared the time and shaped me along the way, many moved on, and some now passed. ❤

              Liked by 2 people

              • More lovely than I could have expressed these thoughts, Sean, but I feel the same about New York City – tho’ my memories are of different times and different places. I think, because it is a walking city, almost all of our memories are visceral – we get to know it by footsteps rather than locations. It’s a more child like way of experiencing a place, which is probably why this story resonated with both of us.

                WONDERFUL, Diana. Now I want to know the man.
                xx,
                mgh
                (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
                ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
                “It takes a village to transform a world!”

                Liked by 1 person

  16. bpsenapati says:

    Wow, great writing, it touched my heart

    Liked by 2 people

  17. What a bittersweet ending, I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Endearing and brilliantly done!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Oh, wow — what a lovely, touching story, Diana. Great photo, too — those are the kinds of places I used to love to explore as a boy growing up in the Bronx! I can see why it inspired you…

    Liked by 2 people

  20. willowdot21 says:

    Beautifully written with a bitter sweet ending !! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  21. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful story Diana. The ending gave me goosebumps. It’s amazing how innocent children don’t worry about the things our parents do. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I enjoyed this lovely story–well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. A.S. Akkalon says:

    Beautiful! The ending gave me chills.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Beautiful, Diana ….oh the precious gift of childhood. Love the description, “a light on inside his head.” I also love the ending. Great writing, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Intriguing story Diana, a childhood fantasy….with a bit of a chill!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Christy B says:

    Oh wow, the ending gave me shivers!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Love this, D. Deep and poignant. Drew me back into childhood, when having tea parties and dolls was real. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. balroop2013 says:

    Lovely story Diana…I was hoping she is going to meet her old friend but life is like that…old memories seem so precious and you have put them across brilliantly! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  29. So mysterious and lovely. A wonderful story!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. tpolen says:

    Sweet, haunting, sad – all describe this story.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. trentpmcd says:

    .Great little story. Poor man. At least he had Miss Penny to keep him company in the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Just one word, two rather- brilliantly haunting.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. This is a beautiful, sensitive story, Diana. I enjoyed reading it. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Sue Vincent says:

    A really beautiful tale, deftly woven, Diana, I always know, when you leave a link for the prompts, that I am not going to be disappointed.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. babbitman says:

    Jam sarnies and biscuits provided by mum. You definitely have a great aptitude for British imagery without reaching for cliches!
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Great take on the prompt and great writing. It left me wanting to read more.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Frank says:

    Both sad and wonderful. Loved it.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Your mastery of your craft shines through in every word.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. I love this story… and the ending is perfect…

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Beautiful. It really captures the innocent mind of a child. I think I’ll check out that prompt, like you say. Looks like fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  41. The V Pub says:

    At first I had thought that this was going to be a sinister tale, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a beautiful tale – both in content and in writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. thefandomandme says:

    That was a beautiful story that I could read again and again.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Wow. That left me speechless. Almost.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. wordwitch88 says:

    Wow – what an ending. Well written and quite the lovely, delighted innocent but safely happy tone and feeling, so to make the discovery of bones, cradling the doll, well, shocking but not harsh.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Phil Ryan says:

    This is… quite brilliant. Is this a missing page from To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s that good. I could go on but selfishly want to read it again…

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Bernadette says:

    D, that was a haunting interpretation of the prompt.

    Liked by 2 people

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