“Hey, look at that!”
Allan slowed down and pulled over to the verge, rolling his window down to get a better view as his wife leaned over him to look.
“That’s a pretty weird bridge,” he said, nodding and pulling the corners of his mouth down.
“Let’s get a closer look,” Sheila suggested.
He looked at her. “We can’t drive over it, look there’s a barrier there.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’ve got legs, love, let’s just walk over and have a look! We’ve got plenty of time.”
He glanced at his watch and realised he couldn’t argue. “Fine,” he said, rolling the window back up. “Just a quick look.”
The bridge was obviously very old – the stones were weathered and worn. That is, most of them were. On the left hand side of the bridge, there was a lovely view down the valley. On the right, however, instead of offering a viewpoint of the rather impressive waterfall, the bridge supported a very large wall. It stretched up a good ten feet, with no windows and no apparent reason for its presence. It was the stones of this wall which clashed with the rest of the construction; they appeared to be almost new.
“Why would you block up a lovely view like that?”
Allan shrugged, running his fingers across the surface of the wall. Sheila ran to the end of the bridge and peered around the wall. There was nothing on the reverse side to explain the wall’s presence.
“Seriously, love, this is like something out of a story,” she said. “I wonder – maybe there was a grand lord who owned this bridge, and his lady love fell to her death from the waterfall over there. He had the wall built so that he could come and go without seeing where she died?!”
“Mmm,” Allan said, still stroking the wall.
“Or perhaps,” Sheila said, getting excited by the possibilities, “Perhaps, the lord was deathly afraid of water, and needed the wall to be built on that side so’s he could cross without seeing the water?”
Allan started trying to dig the mortar out of the wall with his fingernails.
“Or perhaps, I don’t know, oh, maybe it wasn’t his lady love, maybe it was a child! Oh, what if they were playing pooh sticks and just toppled over the side! It doesn’t bear thinking about-”
Allan’s fingers were getting bloody.
“Allan? Love? What are you doing?”
She put a gentle hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged her off. He was scrabbling at the edge of one of the large stones of the wall.
“I think I can… it’s loose…”
Concerned, she took a firmer hold of his shoulders and tried to get him to turn and face her.
“Love, that’s, stop it, you’re bleeding, look, you’re -”
He slapped her, smearing blood across her cheek, and threw himself at the large stone that he’d loosened. It shifted. He grinned at her.
“See? It’s coming loose!”
He threw himself at the wall again as Sheila backed off, her hand on her stinging cheek.
“Allan, you’re scaring me,” she whispered.
He threw himself at the wall again. The stone shifted again, and with a terrible scraping, grating noise fell free.
Allan laughed. The stone left a large hole in the wall; not huge, but big enough. He dived through it.
Sheila lunged forward to try to catch his legs as he went through, but she wasn’t quick enough. She was left holding only his right shoe as he disappeared through the hole.
She stared at it blankly for a moment, unable to believe what had happened, before she started screaming.
© Kari Fay