As she was waiting for the bridge to lower, thinking about everything and nothing, she stared off into distance, alternating her focus between the windshield and the lights ahead of her. She imagined the water lapping against the side of the ship that was passing, how it would be smooth and methodical at port, but would peel away as the ship began to move. Eventually it would just be a constant stream alongside the hull, a steady flow with only the slightest undulation. It was such a calming thought, a transformation with so little effort or destruction. Nothing about it was permanent. She wondered if it was because the ship was so big and the water so vast. Whether the whole process seemed much more tumultuous to the fish or whether they were too small to even notice. “There used to be much bigger fish in the river,” she thought, “They probably would have noticed.” So perhaps its better they were gone, confined to the farms where they never had to worry about bothersome ships or where the delicious little fish were hiding. They would just wait for the plum of feed to engulf them and eat and swim until their number was up. Joan thought it probably wasn’t a bad way to live or die, assuming one had to do both.
No sooner had that thought passed from her mind and into the ether, than a car sped by her, passed through the warning lights and disappeared into the fog.
She had never gotten out of her car in the middle of the road before, and the idea was most unsettling. A part of her felt it was unnecessary. There was nothing she could do and she would be making herself vulnerable by leaving the safety of her car. Still, how would it look if she didn’t. Pretty bad. The whole bridge was monitored. The footage would probably be on news within the hour, assuming the driver couldn’t be identified, in which case, it would show up as soon as the family was notified. She would become the driver of the blue car that didn’t care enough to look. She would never hear the end of it at home.
She lifted the door slowly and looked both way before she stepped outside. The dampness of the air and the proximity to the water gave her a chill, even though it wasn’t cold. She closed the door without looking. Her gaze was already focused on the bridge. She walked slowly toward the lights, just as the sirens started in the distance. Within minutes the port police would arrive. She had to at least be past the threshold by then. She turned around and saw that her car had half disappeared in the fog. She might as well keep going.
The arm had lifted about halfway before it froze in place. She let touched the bar lightly although she didn’t have to crouch to go under it. The ground under her turned from solid metal to a woven grate. She could hear the water hiss and whistle. She looked down. The fog probably blocked any view of the water, but she swore she could see it rushing under her. Maybe it was the sound. She started to feel dizzy and looked up quickly.
As the ever-obedient dance partner to the arm, the bridge had lowered about halfway, maybe a little more. She couldn’t see to the other side or around it. There was a narrow walkway on the left that was striped with rows of rebar to make it a ladder when it was vertical. She grasped the railing and started climbing.
The top of the bridge was very high. Higher than she had ever been on foot. There were birds that had perched at the top. They looked at her as she approached. They weren’t afraid. They didn’t know enough to be afraid. They had probably spent their whole short lives flying around this bridge and had never seen a human. It’s not like people drove off it everyday. In any event, they stayed there as she reached the top. And they looked over the edge with her.
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