There’s a crooked bridge where all the kiddies go to jump. It isn’t about death or the moon or the pines that keep crowding in and crowding in, their black night robes making them look like pointed witches’ hats. It isn’t about the parents who’ve said their prayers and drunk their drinks and hit or kissed or both their kids. It’s about that crooked bridge and the hard-eyed water beneath it. Sweet Uncle Steve said it’s where we all go down to drink. It’s where we drag back our collective inspiration, our ghosts our dreams our boogeymen, The Dark Man, The Shadow Man, The Man in the Hat Standing at the Foot of Your Bed. You look down into that big glassy face, The Water, and you see the rabbits going tharn, scarecrows shambling off their crosses, lagoon monsters waving webbed hands and fluttering slimy gills, all the monsters flashing past you, headlights on a highway. And who can say no to that? Even if it spooks you. Your hands are already sweaty on the bars, the support beam, that last inch of rope. You’re all alone when you’re on the crooked bridge, even if a party drove you to it. Your girlfriend, your boyfriend, they just got their license, their new car, and oh, it smells good, don’t it? Squeaking leather, cold windows, knuckles flexing on the wheel. Even if you all come together, holding hands, a sacred promise, your fingers cut and bleeding into each other, maybe you did it sitting around a campfire, maybe the smoke’s still pinkening your eyes. But the crooked bridge knows you, it gets you alone. It has corners, the crooked bridge, and dips. You won’t leave without looking away lost into that water, the kind that stretches down deeper and deeper as if the bottom were a slingshot pulling back and pulling back and you can’t look away because when it finally snaps forward to hit you– Oh, that big black eye. The Water. The water that opens up its arms to you, grabbing, drawing, a hug, a hand around your ankle, and says, Come on home, baby. Come on home.
K.C. Mead-Brewer lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her writing appears in Carve Magazine, Hobart, Fiction Southeast, and elsewhere. As a reader, she loves everything weird—surrealism, sci-fi, horror, all the good stuff that shows change is not only possible, but inevitable. For more information, visit kcmeadbrewer.com or follow her @meadwriter