A young man arrives at a bridge. The wind kicks up from under the bridge stirring the snow in front of him. His thick layers of blue work clothes are the best he can afford and they cover his slight frame. Despite the cold he is sweating a bit on his brow, his jaws clenched in anger and anticipation. He glances at a cheap and faded wristwatch.
“ February 14, 8:47 p.m.”
The man grows angry and kicks the ground cursing before pointing his fist at the sky and yelling the same. Just as his anger pinnacles, he is startled by a tap on his left shoulder. Turning he sees a bony white hand, barely discernible through the snow and wind. He follows that hand up to the red trim of a black duster. Underneath that duster is a red vest over a black dress shirt. At the peak of the duster is a face—rigid and confident.
The young man steps back and surveys the stranger. He is nearly a foot taller than the young man, with wide shoulders and legs that never seem to be fully straight, like he is running. Despite the physical dominance, the young man notices the angularity of the stranger’s face and hands. This makes him seem suspiciously feminine. In the center of this nearly translucent face lay the most striking blue eyes the young man has ever seen, a fact aggressively covered by the brim of his cap underneath the waxing moon.
The stranger pulls from his duster a singer sheet of yellow paper, rolled and bound with a blue ribbon. Showing neither emotion nor immediacy the stranger removes the ribbon and unrolls the paper. The young man sees just a few words, scrawled in a pristine hand, with a sizeable space between the last words and one long line at the bottom of the page. The young man understands immediately what is at stake. He pauses for a second, pretending to think his decision through.
With a huff, the young man snatches the paper from the stranger and pulls it to his breast for closer inspection. His feet make a half turn away from the stranger as he looks for moonlight to illuminate the contract. By the time he reaches blindly for a pen, the stranger has placed one in his open palm. The blue smear of his indistinguishable mark sweeps across the bottom line before he returns pen and paper to its owner. The confidence with which he performs these tasks surprises him. The stranger is happy, but not surprised.
With a hand shaking slightly from anticipation and stretched towards his eyes, the young man instinctually closes them before feeling a light finger barely drug down each eyelid. After a pregnant second, he opens his eyes cautiously.
The box presented before him is considerable, but small enough to be grasped in the stranger’s hand. The base and lid are both wrapped in a blue paper that is dark in hue but glossy and shimmering in the moonlight. A red ribbon binds the two pieces together. As he grabs it from the stranger, the young man makes the same half turn and breast ward clutch he had made with the contract moments before.
While the young man inspects the present, feeling its size and bulk, the stranger tips his cap and walks away into the darkness. By the time the young man turns to thank his new friend, he is gone. The young man darts a look in all directions before checking his watch.
“February 14, 8:59 p.m.”
Just as he recognizes the time, he raises his head and looks across the bridge. Growing in the dark path beyond the bridge is a small red figure. Barely visible at first, it moves toward the young man, softly swaying from side to side as it comes. After a second, the red figure is all he can see. When he finally recognizes its form as a woman, he licks his lips and runs a nervous hand through his hair.
She is blonde and not particularly tall, though her presence is strongly felt due in part to the raised heels in her red riding boots. The black leggings on her thighs disappear under a thick but somehow still revealing red skirt. Her red coat is bound tightly over a black blouse by a red and black striped belt—its red buckle circling her navel. As she walks across the virgin snow, the young man notices how the sway in her hips put her footprints in a nearly straight line from the black void behind to where he stood in the middle of the road. He slowly steps out to meet her in themiddle of the bridge, his urgency and strides increasingly steady as he moves. When they near, she pulls off her pair of long red gloves, revealing alabaster skin, barely discernible next to the snow. Her white hands reach out for his cheek and, just before kissing, he looks into the most beautiful green eyes he has ever seen.
After a short embrace, he presents her with her present. She opens it slowly, letting the red ribbon fall to the snow. As she lifts the lid off the box, he watches her face. At the moment she looks into the box, her face becomes illuminated. The young man cannot tell if she is overcome with joy from within or if the moonlight has reflected off of the package and into her face. As she looks up at him with small tear streaks pouring over her perfect cheeks, he does not care where her joy originates.
The woman jumps into his arms, holding the box in her left hand and the top in her right. As they embraced, she rejoins the two behind his back. When she removes her legs from his torso and stands in front of him, she brings her arms close to her chest, placing his gift between her breasts and smiling. At that moment, the young man is beaming with joy. Though, he could not tell if it was joy from within or moonlight reflecting off his moistening brow.
A young man arrives at a bridge. The rain has stopped for now, but a slight breeze pushes his lengthening hair around. While he no longer wears a thick winter coat, he grasps the sleeves of his blue work shirt and bundles them around his chest for a second, bracing against the lingering cold. The weariness of his eyes stands in stark contrast to the grin on his thinning face. He thinks he is happy. He slowly looks down at the box in his right hand. It is long and thin, with a dull blue wrapping job around it. He glances at the fading wristwatch on his left arm.
“May 14, 8:59 p.m.”
In the dark behind the bridge, he sees a small red figure, somewhat distant but all too familiar. As the figure moves closer to him, he begins to recognize the woman in her red and black leggings buried under a red skirt. The red sweater she wears over her black blouse is topped with a beautiful silk scarf designed to match the pattern on her leggings. As the young man studies her face—red lipstick like a matador’s cape—he settles on her eyes and decides that she is beauty without respite. Relentless, aggressive beauty from her blond hair to the sway in her step.
As she approaches, the young man drifts toward the middle of the bridge a bit more instinctually than intentionally. He is full of joy as he feels her arms around him and tastes the soft aphrodisiac of lip gloss, human tongue, and the woman’s breath. He is no longer cold. With some hesitation, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out her gift box. She seems surprised to receive it, and gives him a short peck on the cheek before stepping back to open it.
Her smile melts with joy as light from the moon travels unseen into the box and then radiates out from it as if from within. She holds up a pearl necklace, letting the box drop to the ground, and drapes it across her neck. The young man walks behind her and clasps the necklace around her neck. He hugs her warmly from behind before she turns around into a soft, compassionate kiss. She lays her head upon his chest and he looks at the moon in satisfaction.
A young man arrives at a bridge. The weather is still and hot. His faded blue t-shirt is ringed with old sweat stains about the neck and armpits. His overalls drape down his thinning frame like they’re resting on a hanger. He pulls a white kerchief from his back pocket and wipes the sweat from his forehead. He then drags it down across his nose and slightly sunken cheeks. His hair and beard are bushy and seem to hold a lot of his perspiration. His legs are shaky, but straight. He is exhausted and slowly looks at his wrist watch.
“August 14, 8:59 p.m.”
He reaches into his right pocket, feels around slowly, and pulls out a set of two matching keys bound by a blue keychain. He looks at them before clenching them tightly in his hand. His face creates a smile, slowly and forcefully. As he looks across the bridge he sees a familiar form. Alabaster skin under a red summer dress with a red band in her blonde hair, the woman walks with a trademark sway. The black trim of her outfit makes her skin shine under the moonlight.
The young man takes a few aching steps before catching a normal gait as he moves to the center of the bridge. She smiles broadly and wraps her arms around him. He kisses her patiently. With the keys cupped in his palm, he wraps his arms around her head. As the embrace ends, she steps back to see the keys dangling before her eyes, sparking under the moon.
A look of childish joy takes over her face as she grabs the keys. She jumps once, twice before looking back into his weary face. His smile is now genuine, matching the weight of his eyelids. As she wraps her arms around his midriff, he wraps his atop her shoulders. He looks at the moon—satisfied and with tears in his eyes.
A young man arrives at a bridge. The leaves in the tress have turned for the year; leaves are strewn about the ground, blowing gently across the road. He is cold and tired. His sunken cheeks have made his eyes wide—glowing from the center of the mane that has become his hair and beard. He is not smiling and appears somewhat uneasy. He looks at his watch. The seconds tick by on its face at an agonizing pace.
“November 14, 8:57 p.m.”
He taps the watch face and then holds it to his ear. He shakes it once before losing interest as to whether or not it still works. He looks at his right hand, clenched around a small blue jewelry box. He looks across the bridge and sees nothing. With a heavy sigh he looks at the moon.
As he lowers his gaze to the bridge again, he sees a woman at the other side, in plain sight. He recognizes her long red dress, and matching red cardigan. He is unsure how long he was looking at the moon as he did not hear her arrive. He forces an uncompromising stride towards her as she gracefully joins him in the center of the bridge. He hugs her shortly before immediately dropping to his knee. The box is in plain sight as soon as he kneels. He opens it slowly, wavering softly in the wind as he presents it for her inspection. She mouths “yes.”
As he struggles to stand, she pulls him up by the elbows. Once standing she puts on the ring, dropping the box onto the bridge. As she looks at the ring and then into his face, he forces a small but determined smile. When they hug, her face is full of joy, tucked comfortably into his breast. His chin rests on the top of her head. The smile on his face fades. Only weariness remains.
A young man arrives at a bridge. He is freezing, barefoot. The pants on his coveralls have ripped up to the knee and his t-shirt is long gone. The bones under his skin have become his most striking feature. Were it not for his hair and beard, you could see his teeth with his mouth closed. The snow on the ground and blustering into his beard does not faze him. He is slightly hunched and his legs no longer straighten completely, even when he stands still.
He looks at his wrist—bare. He feels in his pockets and pulls out nothing—only bare hands. Having no idea what time it is and nothing to anticipate, he waits.
He looks at the moon, and exhales heavily.
When he sees an archetypal red dress, long and heavy over black boots, his heart palpitates with each step. The black and red striped belt that surrounds her belly serves only to separate the two halves of her body—her heart on one end and her loins on the other. As she takes confident, linear strides towards the center of the bridge, he limps his way to her. Before he reaches the middle, he collapses to his knees. Weeping, he apologizes and begs forgiveness. A small tear forms in her eye as she looks over his head and then down into the blackness of the river.
As he drags his body forward through the dusting of snow, he wraps his arm around her thighs and hips. She pushes his bird-like shoulders away. The woman collects all of her self-righteousness and reaches into her shoulder bag. She shows him the box he had given her a year ago, in the same pristine condition, save the blue ribbon that has replaced the original red. He looks at her bewildered as tears fun into his beard. With fear and anguish he mouths, barely audible over the wind:
“I don’t even know what’s in there.”
Indignant, she undoes the bow and throws the top off. Slowly she pulls out a human heart, beating but barely. She points with the index finger of her other hand at his chest. Just beneath the strap of the overalls he sees a small vertical scar where his heart had been extracted. This discovery fades him very little as he pleads with the woman to throw his heart from the bridge. She has a single tear fall from her eye as she looks at him for confirmation. He mouths the word “please.”
She throws his heart from the bridge.
He weeps tears of joy and clutches his chest. As he falls backward into the snow, he exhales heavily. Softly, he whispers “thank you” to no one in particular.
The woman wipes the tear from her cheek, sniffs once, and slowly stands up straight. She begins to take her belt off while kneeling before a small patch of fresh snow. As she lays the belt before her, the striped pattern is seen to be a long continuous pattern of hash marks. At the end of the belt is enough space for one more. The woman pushes her thumbnail into the end of her first finger. She grits her teeth and tears well in her eyes. Soon she has drawn blood. With a shaking hand she draws one last red mark down the black belt.
When it is finished she sucks her finger into her mouth and looks straight ahead to the end of the bridge. There at the threshold is the stranger. His face is strong and displeased. The woman holds up the belt for him to see. He nods almost imperceptibly, his bright eyes peeking out from under his brim for the smallest of seconds.
The stranger then reaches into his duster and pulls out a single piece of paper, bound with a red ribbon. He removes the ribbon, letting it blow into the wind. He unrolls the paper. The woman’s mark in bright red is scrawled across the bottom. He begins ripping the paper in half until it is reduced to confetti. He lets the wind remove the pieces from his grasp. Without expression, he turns and walks into the darkness. She is left, kneeling next to the young man in the snow, sobbing softly.
Created: Feb 27, 2014CubbySanchez Document Media