Here’s a good little read for Halloween…
A HALLOWEEN STORY
Water rises. I careen toward the bridge beneath which, not a moment ago, water raged, and where is the bridge now? A line of sweat forms at my hairline, trickles into my eyes, stings my eyes. I talk to the bridge, Please be intact, I say, as I gun the engine. River rages, swirls, scrubs the planks as if to erase the bridge’s memory. Bridge jabs back at me with a bony finger, much like an ancient grandparent would, You should never cross a bridge in a flood, it admonishes, as if it has experienced this kind of thing before, and it has.
Weirdly, bits of Simon and Garfunkel float like water on the brain. “Like a bridge over troubled–” Well, you know.
The song will not leave me alone. “…I will lay me down.” Well, let me tell you something, Simon and Garfunkle, this chick isn’t ready to lay herself down yet, so go trouble someone else’s friggin’ waters.
Before. Yet. Past. Future. Neither matters for the Now I’m in.
For reasons I cannot explain, I don’t dare back out of the canyon, back up that long hill to where strangers warned us not to cross.
“Don’t do it,” they’d said. “Happens fast, Stay here. Hunker down.”
“Drive!” someone familiar urges from the seat next to me.
Observers sit wordless in the row behind me and why are they silent? Why do they stare? I know they stare because I feel it. Go ahead, I say to them, drill holes.
The van is running over a large tree limb and someone has packed thirty gallon drums of gasoline into the third row and who would do such a thing? The van heaves upward. Barely contained gas thumps against curved ribs.
Muddied water torn down by broken hills seeps into the crack of the driver’s side door. Sqidgy toes, windshield wipers inadequate for torrential downfall might as well not be there. Objects–bikes, cars–fade into the whorl until they are no longer distinguishable.
Without warning, I am not kidding without so much as a moan, too late the front of the van lifts up, the wheels up and off, horrifying, now the back wheels lifting off, and I am a toddler walking on top of my daddy’s shoes light and effortless while he walks me around the room, my fingers locked in his, and I should giggle with delight at great strides made with no effort at all. Instead, I gasp as a newborn for first breath, then cry out. I scream but no sound comes forth. I am rendered soundless by the flood. I am born mute, and who will hear me?
Brown sepia foam dims vision while blackened trees float by, branches scrape the van, poke bony fingers into windows like great screeching banshees on the hunt for innocents.
He’s laughing now, the one in the seat next to me, high pitched, crazy laughter.
Foolishly, I gun the gas again, as if a gas pedal will prevent our shockingly languid three hundred sixty degree turn. Wheels spin in a galaxy of gas fumes and I become the river…
…By some miracle, water thrusts us to the other side! Wheels touch down, water lapping up into wheel wells. The engine gives a great sputter then it dies. We must get up the hill! I turn the key again, pray, listen to the whine until, at last, a spark catches! We should be cheering, clapping, sighing, spent.
I wake up, before the explosion