Once there had been more than a creek but not quite a river coursing under it that started in the mountains and traveled to the sea not far away. She and her father had made paper boats to sail upon it.
He had always carried a candle. “Celly,” he never called her Celina, “this’ll keep ‘er afloat longer.” Taking out a wooden match, he would strike it with the nail of his rough thumb. It flared against the wick and he would drizzle wax on the paper keel. Blowing gently on his work he’d hand it to her. She’d run, carefully holding it, to set the vessel in the water upstream as he watched from the bridge. Once in the water she’d race along the bank following its careening… down…down… on the flowing, churning, water. Stopped by the moss covered stones of the fence, she had one last look as the bit of boat-shaped paper sailed around the bend and out of sight. She always looked back then to see her father, on the bridge, framed by the setting sun. He had always waved and then would turn on the bridge lights as night fell. She would join him and they’d watch the moon rise and stars fall. Even in the day, she thought of it as the night bridge.
Her father had died long before she was done with dolls and paper boats and in the evenings afterwards, alone, she watched the heavens from the bridge.
She had grown up and fallen in love. Her first kiss was on the bridge, in the glow of the lights her father once tended, with a boy who went off to war and then came home. But not really. The largest part of what she had loved in him had been left behind.
And then life took her far away… only to come back, now. Funerals bring us home. She thought of her mother and the service set for tomorrow.
She looked down upon the dried, cracked, carcass of what had once been filled with life and movement. The water she had laughed, cried and danced above, along and in. She had been gone a long time and wondered when it had died.
She turned from the view and walked along the rough, still sturdy, surface of the bridge to its end and then turning under, slid down the bank. The sun was going down as she walked along what had been the water’s bed to the crumbling stone wall a 9-year old girl had feared to climb. She looked back and thought a shadow upon the bridge waved. She waved back. Then she walked around the bend almost afraid she’d see all the boats they’d sailed, on the rocks, not having made it to the sea where they belonged. But they weren’t there. As she climbed from the rock strewn bed to walk along the path on the farther side she decided she wouldn’t stop until she saw the sea. And there she’d sit and dream of paper boats, of what was past… and then let it all go so she could face her future.
This scene is from the outline and scenes draft of a project for 2018.