The Man Under The Bridge – A Short Story by M L Wood

A man wakes up under a bridge. He notices the trickle of water dripping down through the crack in the cement above him. He notes the sound is rather pleasant and the water is a safe distance from him not to disturb his state. The cars are streaming across the bridge in a sort of melodic hum. He smiles not taking his eyes off the drip.

The man lays there for an hour, just listening to the sound and smiling, arms behind his head in relaxation. He stands up all of a sudden and stretches his now stiff body before closing his eyes with a deep yawn.

He sees a younger man, tall and strong, wearing a suit. He is walking through the streets of the busy city, weaving his way through the chaos, briefcase in hand. The man stops at the traffic light and a pained look emerges across his face as he looks at his watch. The light goes green and he rushes across the street before scurrying up the steps of the building into the afternoon’s onslaught of board meetings.

The man under the bridge opens his eyes and walks a few steps before reaching down to pet his German Shepherd Figo. The smile is still on his face. He looks up at the sunny sky and closes his eyes again.

He sees the younger man. He is on the phone, to a woman it seems from the muffled sound through the phone.

“Of course I want the job, we need the money, but these hours are killing me.” The same pained look as before is seemingly tattooed onto his face.

It is dark out and he is only just leaving the office.

“I can’t. I can’t find another job that will pay this much and we need the money.” The man sits down waiting for the bus.

“I know darling, the house will be built don’t worry. You will get your dream home.”

The conversation abruptly ends and the man sits for a moment before dragging his hand across his face. Leaning forward he takes off his tie and loosens up his work shirt. Staring into the abyss of the concrete before him, he sits for what seems like an eternity before the bus arrives. He steps onto the bus with a look of resignation and sits on one of the back seats.

The man under the bridge takes a deep breath as he opens his eyes again. Blinking the sun away he walks toward the small stream that runs under the bridge. He takes a moment to relieve his bladder and take in the beautiful nature around him. The air is fresh, the stream cool and the trees seem to sing to him with contentment. He walks back to his makeshift home under the bridge and sinks into his deck chair with a satisfied groan. Leaning back a little soaking up the sun, he takes a moment to close his eyes once again. This time he lets out a little chuckle as he closes them. 

He sees the same young man again. Tall and proud now standing in the doorway of what looks like a newly built, two-story home. 

“It is yours. You can have it, I don’t want this,” the man says, raising his hands toward the house.

The man under the bridge can’t make out what the woman is saying, but he can tell it is not pleasant. Yet, the man in the doorway is smiling. Not the arrogant type, the I am sure I am doing the right thing type of smile. 

“It’s okay. This was all your dream. All of it. You have the house now. But I won’t be that man. Not for you and not for anyone.” He walks inside for a moment before coming back out with a small puppy. 

“You won’t see me again. All the paperwork is done. All the money, the house, everything except Figo is yours.” 

The man quietly closes the door, a small backpack on his back and walks with the small pup toward the forest across from the new house. He pauses from a moment as he walks into the row of pine trees. He tilts his head up a little to take in the scent of the forest and the calming feeling it brings to him. He knows he is on the right path and that everything will be okay.

Then the man under the bridge breaks into a hysterical fit of laughter. He cackles for a good few minutes and then comes to his senses. He runs his hand through Figo’s old hair, now turned a little lighter in colour. 

Smiling he says. 

“We’ve done okay, haven’t we old boy.” 





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