Liah S Thorley - Writer

Bridge Dancer

Bathed in a yellow glow from the street lamp on the corner she stands. She is balanced on the wrought-iron railing like a tightrope walker. Her stance is firm and she does not waver. She holds out her arms and looks up at the silver face in the sky above. It is a clear night. Not that the stars are visible from such a bright city, not even from the bridge on which she is perched. But the moon is looking down at her with its lopsided features and gaping mouth. She tilts her head and looks into its eyes, wondering what he would say to her if he could. She shivers as the cold wind bites at her face and the air smells of earlier rain and the icy river. She breathes out slowly, watching her breath billow into the night, and feels like an invincible dragon.
Along the embankment a couple are walking towards her hand in hand. They stop and kiss. She envies their happiness. She abandons the safety of land and makes her way over the river. She moves like a gymnast on a beam. Pointing her feet and swinging her legs with assured agility. She glances down and the flowing darkness beneath. The river glints in the moonlight, shimmering like a precious stone. The couple notice her and stop. She sees them from the corner of her eye. She calls out to them to say she is fine but they do not seem to hear.
They watch as though frozen to the spot. She waves and as she does so slips a little. Spreading her arms wide she regains her balance and spins ninety degrees to face the way she came. The couple on the embankment are looking at each other and talking nervously. The man is digging in his pocket for something. She watches as a phone is extracted and a number dialled. She wonders if he is calling the police as so many have done before them. The woman, she notes, is edging towards her, talking to her, trying to sound soothing and calm. She smiles and pauses mid turn. Her skirts are heavy and the weight tips her sideways. She staggers and slips. This time she cannot regain control and the river hurtles towards her like black concrete and sucks her down. As she sinks beneath the surface she recalls the first time she had fallen. It had been icy then too and the river near frozen solid. But as she had hit the surface the ice had broken and down she had gone. She had frozen before the air in her lungs had gone. She pictures the couple on the embankment. She has never seen the faces of those who had watched her die over the years. But she has heard their frantic cries and astonished confusion when there was no body to be found.