Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Bridge

The Bridge

Critchley had walked to the bridge and sat on the bench to eat his lunch for the last 60 years. It had fond memories for him, he had met his wife in this park in 1949, he was 23. They had sat on this bench holding hands on their first date.

On the back of the bench carved into one of the boards was a heart with the initials JC and AM inside. Jim Critchley was 83, born during the last days of 1926. He had married Amanda Morrison in 1951.

They had 4 short years together before she was taken after being struck down with meningitis. He sat at her hospital bed for 12 days while she was in a coma, never moving from her side.

On the evening of the 12 day as he sat in a chair next to her bed, he felt her fingers close on his hand, he looked up and her eyes were open, her lips were moving, but her voice so weak he could not hear. He moved close to her his ear near to her mouth. "I will be at the bridge" is all she said and a long sigh escaped her lips. He looked up her eyes were open, but Amanda Morrison was gone. He bowed his head and wept long groaning sobs.

The Hospital staff took 2 hours to persuade him to release his embrace on her lifeless body.

After that Critchley had existed, simply going through the functions of day to day life, working, eating, sleeping  and going to the bridge every day at lunchtime. Summer and Winter. Autumn and Spring. No matter what the weather, he was there. He did not notice the years pass. In reality Critchley did not notice much of anything.

Today Critchley picked up his Pastrami on Rye from the Deli on the corner of 25 and Idaho and walked slowly with the aid of his stick to the park and the Bridge. He eased himself down onto the bench with a soft groan his bones aching more than ever. He did as he always did ate his lunch and thought about his short time with Amanda and what she had whispered in his ear.

Life went on around Critchley without him ever really noticing, passers by a blur of movement and sound. Unusually Critchley slowly dozed off, half his lunch sandwich falling to the ground for the birds to quickly scavenge.

It was dusk when a voice jogged Critchley from his sleep. A soft familiar whisper, "Critch", "Critch" "Its Time Darling", he rubbed his blurry eyes and looked up in the half light he saw a woman standing on the bridge, there seemed to be something familiar about her in his half dream state. "Come on Critch, its time for us to go".

Slowly Critchley eased himself up from the bench, and was suddenly shocked to find he had no pain, he looked up and noticed a strange glow around the bridge and the woman was standing her hand held out towards him, with an oh so familiar smile on her face.

Critchley ran to the bridge and looked into the eyes of his one and only love, Amanda Morrison.
She took his hand and guided him over the bridge into the shadows of the park, the glow around the bridge was gone.

At 11.50pm Sergeant Patrick O'Shaunasey was taking a short cut home through the park from the station house. He found Critchley's body still sitting on the bench with the crumbs left by the birds around his feet. His eyes were still open he was looking in the direction of the bridge with a grin on his face, but Jim Critchley was gone.

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