Boy on the Bridge
Two lonely people meet on a bridge. It goes better than either of them expected.
Tropes – Strangers to Lovers, Meet Cute
Oh no. There’s a boy on the bridge. And that’s not just my social anxiety acting up.
He’s standing stiffy on the outside of the wooden railing. His arms stretched behind him, gripping the edge. He doesn’t acknowledge me when I approach.
Not for the first time, I ask myself why I decided to take the mysterious Greenway Trail today. Usually, I’m a loop girl. I love walking in a circle.
Every time I come to this park, I take the White Deer 1.2 mi loop. See some flowers, breathe fresh air, get my steps in. Done.
But today, something said to me: Why don’t you try something new?
I don’t like new things.
It could be fuuuunn.
I doubt that.
So I went. The sign didn’t even say how long the trail is. I could be walking down this path forever, or so I thought until I got to the bridge.
It’s not a rickety bridge, by any means. It’s about 40 feet long, 10 feet wide, with sturdy planks of fresh-cut wood. The railing comes to about waist-height for the boy, armpit-height for me.
Underneath us is a muddy stream. It’s been weeks since the last rainfall so there’s no running water, just a few puddles here and there. Probably deeper than they look but that’s not saying much. There’s no way the boy could drown but the fall is high enough that he could twist an ankle if he landed weird.
I clear my throat. He still doesn’t look back. I’m standing a couple feet away from him now and I can see he’s more man than boy. He’s young, maybe a couple years younger than me, but he’s no kid.
I clear my throat again. “Excuse me?”
He sighs and glances back like I’ve inconvenienced him. His long, wavy cedar hair covers the left half of his face but I can see a thin scar peeking out. “What?” His voice sounds like he hasn’t spoken in a while.
“Um,…Do you know how long this trail is? How much further til the end?”
He adjusts his hold on the railing to face me, and looks at me like he’s never seen another human being. “You’re not gonna try to stop me?”
“From jumping? No. I’m sure you know what you’re doing.” His eyes are a clear, sapphire blue, not muddied by drugs or alcohol. A jagged scar on the left side of his face runs from the corner of his eye to the corner of his mouth. “Um, is this a practice jump?” I’m not sure what I’ll do if he says yes.
He looks down at the muddy ground. “I just wondered what it felt like.”
“No. The fall.” He pulls himself up and over the railing. “The path goes on for another 10 minutes to a nice meadow. I’ll walk with you.”
We walk to the meadow in silence. It actually is a nice meadow. There are a bunch of azaleas, daisies, and other colorful flowers scattered throughout a field as big as my house, surrounded by tall oak trees. After 5 minutes of staring at flowers, I start walking back down the trail. The boy-man follows.
We don’t talk as we pass the bridge. We don’t talk at all until we make it back the the parking lot. I awkwardly wave goodbye and start to walk away, but the boy-man stops me when he says, “Tomorrow, same time?”
“Wanna meet back here tomorrow at 3:30pm?”
“Um, ookkkkayyy, sure.” I jump in my car and drive off. I think about boy-man for the rest of the day. What a weird dude. Are we friends now? Does he think we’re friends now?
There is no reason for me to ever go back to that park. There are plenty of other parks I can go to with lovely loop trails without bridges where I meet strange men. So tell me why it’s 3:28pm the next day and I’m back in that parking lot?
Boy-man is sitting on a bench, waiting for me by the trailhead. We nod to each other and start our trek down the Greenway Trail without exchanging a word. I guess we’re walking partners now.