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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ode to the Broken (AKA Spoopy Bridge Story)

I'm studying abroad in Austria this semester, and my university doesn't have a booming creative writing program, to put it mildly. That said, I am currently enrolled in an introductory fiction writing class. It's...odd to be back in an intro course, but so far I adore it.

Anyway, for our first homework assignment, my professor gave us several prompts to choose from. The one I chose was to find a photograph and write a scene inspired by it. It's the first creative thing I've written in a while, and I quite like it, considering it is a first draft.

I'm gonna share it with you now. Keep in mind this is not meant to be a complete short story.

P.S. I found the image on Pinterest.

The lake is perfectly still, as if the fey and the gods and the entire land are holding their breath in anticipation. And perhaps they are, indeed. But I know the tremble in their chests do not mimic mine, for they aren’t weary and fearful like I am.
They are eager.
If the ravenous eyes of the forest and the sky have narrowed their focus to witness this moment, it is because they can sense the peril awaiting the foolish mortal who dared to crash into their havens and demand recompense.
Or maybe they’ve already forgotten about me. What is a mere moment’s irritation in the scope of eternity?
The bridge that leads to Her neglected altar appears instable, but not otherworldly. It is discolored and dilapidated, like a corpse that had never been discovered. It leans left and then right, dips below the water and rises above again. Staggering. Struggling to stay afloat.
I am familiar with the feeling.
“When does it stop being worth it?” Calden asks from behind me. “This vengeance quest of yours.”
I didn’t think there was anything left in me to crumble, but I feel it in the pit of my stomach. The last of my spirit has disintegrated.
“I haven’t assigned a value to our son,” I say. My voice is frigid and empty. I almost don’t recognize myself, but this is who I have become. “We’ve given up everything for him. Why quit now, when there’s a chance we can get him back?”
At fifteen, Father forbid me from seeing Calden, claiming I could never marry an executioner’s son. At sixteen, my stomach swelled. Mother wailed while Father tried to thrash the baby out of me. I escaped off adrenaline alone and Calden spent weeks nursing me back to health in an abandoned cottage in the woods.
We’d learned to catch our own food and hide whenever footsteps approached.
We lived in constant terror: that my father would find us, that the water would make us ill, that our baby would never see life. We didn’t know what we should have really been fearing.
Calden takes a step forward and reaches for my hand. How can he possibly feel so warm? I allow myself to bask in it for a single moment, knowing it might be the last warmth I’ll ever feel.
“He was a child,” I whisper. “He was pure and lovely, and he did not deserve to die at the mercy of a frivolous war. The fey and the gods—they were careless, and they will undo the ruin they have caused.”
He shudders—I see it in his face and feel it in the grip on my hand. “This will not work. You cannot trifle with She who even the gods fear and expect to survive.” His next words are so flimsy, so ephemeral, they already sound like a memory. “I cannot lose you, too.”
A gust of wind leeches any warmth from my bones but it does not ruffle the water before us. I turn away from Calden’s pinched face.
“Can’t you see? You already have.”
As I take my first step onto the precarious bridge, the wind intensifies. It envelops me like an enormous hand enfolding me in its grasp. Whether that hand is pushing or pulling me, I cannot yet tell.
             A howl rises on the wind, and with each step I take, it becomes more musical, a dissonant melody beckoning me toward Her altar.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say and give your opinion on it. It really means a lot to me. And of course, I will do my best to return the favor. However, as easily distracted and scatter-brained as I am, please don't be offended if I forget to comment on your blog.