The bridge is coming up

By John (this story based on fact was modified for submission to a Bloomsbury book company short story competition with the theme of “Ageing” to be judged in February 2016).

Saturday morning, 10.00 am, August 2015. An old man, approaching his 72nd year, stands on Sandy Haven beach – the stony one on the west side of the tidal creek used for launching boats. The tide is going out and the water low. He has a camera with him and has just photographed the long linear ripple running across the outgoing tidal water where the low-tide footbridge, locally famous as “the crabbing bridge”, lies just under the water surface. A warm sun glints on the shimmering water and he is alone in the creek. Suddenly a young boy about six years old comes running across the wet stony beach and stands alongside the old man. They stand companionably silent watching the long ripple on the water surface. Then the young fair haired boy turns to the old man and explains excitedly “The bridge is coming up”.

Shortly afterwards young woman with long hair dressed in white trousers and a blue blouse come running onto the beach, approaches the boy and calls loudly “Brian! You must not leave the house without telling someone. It can be dangerous”. The old man reassures her “He was safe as I was here. We were watching the crabbing bridge emerge. I presume the young man has been catching crabs here”. The mother replies that she and her family are holidaying at Sandy Haven in a house near the beach and had spent several days catching crabs from the foot bridge. It was a week when the tides were out during the day. Soon the boy’s father comes to the top of the beach with a younger brother and sister of the boy. The family gathers and sets off with children’s small plastic buckets to pick blackberries along the coast path to the west – a very good place for blackberries for the hedges there face south and are sheltered on the ground that slopes towards the sea.

The old man is much amused and smiles as he thinks of the innocence of the young boy and how much he has yet to learn. The excited explanation of the bridge coming up out of the water shows how much he has yet to learn about tides and currents and the moon. He has also given away the information that he comes from the countryside or a city someplace inland and is just beginning to learn of Natures many secrets of the coastal areas. But his excitement at seeing the crabbing bridge emerge once more, tells of his new holiday knowledge and skills. He has experienced taking a piece of string and some bacon and filled a bucket with live crabs (strange creatures that look a bit like spiders to young children). He knows too that his skills will now impress his younger brother and sister and please his admiring parents. Indeed the whole family will have cried out with excitement at the end of the crab catching adventure, when all the crabs were tipped out onto the bridge to scramble home in all directions – ready to be caught and fed bacon again on the next day.

The old man walks slowly back across beach in the warm morning sun with a smile on his face as he remembers being just as excited as the young boy, when he caught crabs here some 66 years ago. He then remembers how some 30 to 40 years ago, when he and his wife and their four children used to catch crabs on the bridge. In his camera he carries photographs of the crabbing bridge emerging. He will email them to his now distant and grown up children, so that they too will remember and shortly bring the grandchildren to go crabbing on the famous bridge and learn things and watch in excitement when “the bridge is coming up out of the water”.

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