Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: The Chosen One, or A Bridge Between Worlds
By K Donnelly
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The call came quietly at first, a gentle murmur that only mildly intruded upon the usual trivia, but then louder, louder until the signs were everywhere he turned and he could not look even to a currant bun without the icing spelling something out to him. Seldom would he fall asleep but his newfound genius would prick him awake again with the kind of needling, glowingly lucid images that demand to be written down before they are dissolved by the jealous light of the everyday. It was during those sleepless nights that he would find himself on this bridge, lavender-pale nostalgia behind, the staccato greys of the unknown in front. He felt on the verge of some great understanding. It was as though there resided in his body a great many insects that scurried and scuttled under the surface of his skin, manufacturing phrases, rhyming sextets, whispering, muttering, beetling, beetling, until he began to dance from foot to foot in his agitation, intoxicated by revelations, trembling with secrets, and then enough! He could bear it no longer. Yes, it was at these times the gift, that great white elephant of the mind, would effervesce until it sputtered to the surface and left him not a man, not even a poet, but a reluctant prophet, a seer of the mysteries of this world and the next.
‘Oh to be an ordinary man!’ He thought. ‘An ordinary man, without any special talent!’ And he frowned wearily and noted the burden of his talent weighing him down, rooting him to the spot. Why couldn’t he be more like his friend with the big ears, who smells of onions and has no discernable talent to speak of? Why couldn’t he too have been destined to be average, to make pies, and bad jokes, and never feel the torturous niggle of striving? And he thought sadly of his wife who, next to him but a thousand miles away, dreamed dreams of rickety footbridges creaking precariously under foot. He thought, ‘Yes, well, she is very good-looking it is true. But what can she know of my struggles? What can she know of bridges and the terrible, soul-defining choice I have to make?’
The number of trips he’d make to the bridge increased as the sleepless nights wore on and he’d crouch there, trembling in the darkness.
‘Lord! Lord! Why have you selected me to bear the world on these feeble shoulders?’ And he’d look to the side of the bridge from whence he came and scowl at the people going about their daily business there. ‘But don’t trouble yourself about them Lord,’ he’d stammer, ‘Forget them and concentrate on me. Aren’t I about to sacrifice all to you? You know what a good man I am. I am chosen. Yes. I am chosen.’ Oh, he’d cross to the other side eventually – of course he would. But not yet. There were things he had to take care of first, things he must see to, and besides, what if he should wander over the bridge and forget a vital part of himself? No, it wouldn’t do to go before he was absolutely certain.
One evening as he made the return journey home, he was startled by the fatalistic crumbling sound of bricks hitting water. The next day he noticed the structure of the bridge receded a little from the edge of the other side. A few nights later the stonework had ebbed further still.
Tonight he finds himself straying tentatively from the midpoint. One leap, one great leap and he would make it to the other side. If he misjudges, he will perish. He gazes down, his wild eyes so reflecting fear that he doesn’t notice as his wife, now his friend who smells of onions, skip past, over the bridge and beyond. He looks once more to the past, the old way, and sways momentarily under its comforting allure before turning his back on it for good. A light passes over him like a camera flash and in that instant he sees he is part of the snapshot - has always been - an amorphous dot. He takes three steps forward and jumps.
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