Login   Sign Up 


The Bridge

by RIO 

Posted: 11 June 2016
Word Count: 502
Summary: Challenge 602

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Richard was not here when I arrived at the bridge, which was unusual.
I walked to its centre and looked down smiling as I remembered his words describing the water flowing over the jagged rocks and how the sunlight on the forming bubbles made them look like diamonds.
“If they were real, I would sweep them up with a net,” he said. “Then I could be worthy to marry you and give you the life you are accustomed to.”
I told him it did not matter. I had loved him since the first time I saw him tending the roses in the garden as I took my walk, escorted by my lady-in-waiting. Then as I embroidered, sitting by the window in my room, telling her it was because of the lack of light, but so I could watch him digging the dark brown soil; a man of the earth.
I arranged to sneak out of my rooms when she had her afternoon rest. Richard had suggested meeting here, hidden from the castle by tall trees.
Sometimes we sat below the bridge on the grass bank and ate cherries that he had picked, our lips stained bright red with their sweet juice.
But our gentle romance took on a new urgency when my father announced I was to be married to a ten-year-old boy.
“It will seal the bond between our two great Houses,” he said. “And you cannot expect your older sister to marry one so young. She must bear a child as soon as possible after she is wed.”
I knew at that moment that it would be many years before I felt the fulfilment of those desires that had been awoken in me by Richard. I had to choose; a marriage to a child who would enjoy sword practise with the knights far more than my company or a commoner who loved me with passion.
We arranged to meet here. Richard had purchased a horse. We would mingle with the crowds of peasants as they left the castle after their day’s trading; dressed in ragged clothes, my face muddied and hair loose and straggled, no-one would recognise me.
. . . A distant sound brings me back to the present. My heart leaping, I turn to face Richard, but he is not there; just Father with my lady-in-waiting hurrying towards me.
Why today did I have to disturb her from the light sleep that precedes slumber?
But she must have known earlier what we had planned, or why else would my father be with her?
. . . Now I know you will not come, my dearest Richard. Now I know you lie in some damp dungeon awaiting your fate.
I have no choice.
I lift my skirt and stand on the bridge. I sway as I hear them shouting to me but I ignore them, my eyes fixed on the diamonds I can see in the water as I fly down to rest my broken heart amongst their beauty.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Cornelia at 08:58 on 12 June 2016  Report this post
What a poignant story. The medieval setting and the dilemma reminded me of The Lady Of Shallot. But there is a sense of realism, too, in  a problem that was the common lot of women back then - the lack of status that reduced them to objects in men's designs rather than people withtheir own desires.
It was a bit confusing in the part that began
One part that was confusing, beginning 'Why today dis I have to dsturb her ......' to 'Why else would my father be with you? '
The mc seems to switch from addressing  the maid Richard - suggestive of her sense of panic, but a puzzling to the reader.
I liked the opening image of the pebbles like diamonds and the way they illustrate Richard's illegibility as a suitor. I thought this was a dramatic response to the theme and the details such as the cherries and swordplay established the scene.  I wonder if it was based on a true story.

Bazz at 12:51 on 12 June 2016  Report this post
Hi Rita, there's nothing as tragic as a romance that isn't allowed to flourish, is there? There's some great scene setting here, and the dynamic between our doomed lovers feels very real. The pain at the end, the feeling of a life tumbling out of control, is primal and striking, and the last paragraph is quite poetic, with the imagery of diamonds bookending their sad romance...

It would help to know the age of our narrator though, why is she being married to a ten years old boy, is she roughly the same age? It makes her relationship with Richard strike an odd note, is he much older than her?

Debbie ONeill at 18:11 on 12 June 2016  Report this post
Rita, I loved this story. I'm a big fan of Plantagenent and Tudor history, and I have no trouble with the age gaps - common for royal and aristocratic children to be married off before their majority, to cement royal houses and families together. 

These two lines 

Why today did I have to disturb her from the light sleep that precedes slumber?
But you must have known earlier what we had planned, or why else would my father be with you?

must surely be addressed in her mind to the lady in waiting, her father's spy?  

Your use of language was very evocative, easily calling up the historical period. My lady's internal narrative was convincing, too.

I too loved the imagery of the stream, the diamonds she would never get from Richard, and the foreshadowing here.     

The only thing that struck me was the social gap. She would have been raised for a high-born marriage; would such a young woman have given up her life for a servant? And then, would she have abandoned him to his fate without pleading for him?

Still, it didn't detract from the story, and I enjoyed it immensely.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .