The bridge stands proudly on struts of experience, rising above the mist. Knowledge reaches high and far, sweeping through complexity to distant prosperity. Anxious faces peer along the route, ready to embark and I am the gatekeeper, selling tickets to their dreams. Open mouths and eager eyes, staring up at strength and skill in awe, wondering if they can ever be worthy. They pile treasure into my hands as I sing the praises of the formation and the magnificence of the land beyond. There are alternative routes, different bridges, but none shine like mine, none rise like mine, none are as straight or as true. Their amalgamated wealth buys my promises for a chosen few.
For decades the bridge has stood, and only I know its secret. Only I know the lie of its shining façade. Somewhere in construction, before I was born, mistakes were made. The seed of destruction was planted. And now great growth hides internal damage, the path looks steadfast but rotten collapse is inevitable. One day I must close the barriers. If I judge the moment correctly this edifice will remain forever admired, with me in quiet reflected glory. If I wait too long it will crumble, plunging innocents into nothing. Promises broken, I will have questions to answer; my destruction will be lengthier although just as complete.
But it can endure a few more footsteps. A few more coins in my hand. A little more weight on the fatigued structure.
I’m sure it can.
Sarah Alcock began writing in 2016, inspired by the success of a childhood friend. Her first short story, ‘The Manor’, won the monthly Dark Tales prize in 2018 and her flash fiction ‘Lucky’ was published in the Writer’s Retreat UK Super Shorts 2019 anthology. In 2020, her flash fiction ‘Drowning’ was long-listed in the Writers’ HQ quarterly competition. Sarah lives with her husband and two children in Buckinghamshire. An introvert with a keen interest in human behaviour, Sarah has a degree in psychology and works in online learning design. Hobbies include angsting over her first novel and planning the next family holiday. Find out more here.