One Thousand Word Challenge: Freiheit Brücke (Freedom Bridge)

When I saw this picture from Roz, I knew that I would be writing a story set in the Tower World.

Put on something suitable for your station in life, for we’re off to visit the past of the future that’s kind of in the past.

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The Government Tower has permitted the release of the following memoir as “Relevant History from a Personal Perspective” under Act HP001, category 7.

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Elise and I were sitting in the grass on the West Bank, watching the men in coveralls working on the Freiheit Brücke, which would connect the East and West Banks, allowing the people that lived on the outskirts to access the metropolis of Lichtstadt without having to take a ferry.

This was back when they first passed the Dress Mandate that would eventually be enforced on every strata of society. Back then, it was just for the young, and many of us defied the new standards; I did my part by wearing my hair long and dyed black and red and seeing how far I could push the standards of dress without a patrol nabbing me.

My uniform was that of the Eighth Memorial High school – a grey jacket with black trim and trousers that itched everywhere you didn’t want them to. I went to thrift stores to buy my uniforms because I knew that I could get them a size or two larger than I needed, which allowed me to dress in a style we called unordentlich Weise, or Messy Manner; I would wear my jacket unbuttoned with a somber Tod Ritus shirt underneath.

Elise worked on a farm in the East bank and attended school part time. She wore the same coveralls as the bridge workers, only hers was an earthy brown instead of the rich blue of the Engineering Corps.

Green knitted knee socks rose up from her dingy work boots and a deep purple kerchief held back her sandy blonde hair. She had a plain and unassuming beauty that could easily go unnoticed.

We had known each other since childhood and acted like siblings. Even when we argued passionately, we never forgot that we loved each other. Even though we never said it, I’m sure we both knew it back then.

“Look, it’s an ape,” whispered Elise, furtively pointing at a heavily muscled worker that was swinging from a girder like an orangutan.

The other workers laughed and cheered, and soon they started clapping in unison. The one swinging went into an arboreal dance, relying on the strength and resilience of his arms in an acrobatic display that would put any trapeze artist from Strauss and Kline to shame.

“His supervisor is going to be pissed,” I said.

“I think he is the supervisor!” said Elise, laughing.

She put her arm around me and leaned her head against my chest. She stayed there, suddenly silent.

“I don’t want this to end,” she said.

I was confused at the sudden change in her tone. She seemed ready to start crying.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“They’re moving us out in two weeks. We’re being sent to Weitstadt as part of the Relocation.”

I had heard of the Relocation Act. Designed to optimize land use, the act would ensure that factories would be near the cities and towns, while the agricultural communities would be outlying. I had never imagined that the farms on the East Bank would be moved. Some farms had been worked on by the same family since before the Revolution.

Weitstadt was far away, hence its name. It would take five days for a letter to reach there from Lichtstadt. I started to imagine the implications, and felt the sadness in Elise’s voice reflected in my heart. I tried to think of what to say, but nothing would come out.

“I thought we’d have more time.” she said, “I thought we’d have forever. I just can’t imagine a world without you in it.”

“I’ll still be here. I’m not dying, and neither are you. Sure, it is far away, but we’ll keep in touch. I can visit when school lets out and we can spend the summer together out there, away from the city.”

My words sounded hollow when I said them. It was like when you tell a stranger that you are sorry for the death of his loved one that you didn’t know; only this was someone I knew and cared for.

Elise looked up to me and her eyes looked glassy, like she was about to cry. There were inches between her lips and mine. Locked in each other’s gaze, we drew closer, as though fighting the future that would rip us apart. I closed my eyes, and then I heard a scream.

It went from a deep bellow to a terrified wail in a second. I opened my eyes and turned my head in time to see that all of the workers were looking down. I heard the splash, but Elise saw the impact. She cried out with a hideous, primal sound and buried her face in my chest.

Over the next two weeks, Elise changed. She became grim and sulky. She had never experienced death in anyway, and seeing that worker fall had changed her. It made her bitter and cold. She seemed to resent life for its fragility, and in her resentment, she closed herself off.

I went to see them off when the Government relocated her and her family. Elise was still brooding, and when I promised that I would write, she frowned.

“There’s no reason for it. Everything ends. Just let this be over too,” she said.

Her words hurt. I knew she was struggling, but she didn’t need to talk like that. When she walked away, she didn’t look back.

Today, one war later, I use the walkway to cross over the Freiheit Brücke. I’ve grown old and tired in two decades; my knees ache and my back will never be the same. Still, I think about Elise and the kiss that almost was, and I wonder: what would have been different if we had kissed? Would we have fallen in love, real love? Would we have been married? Might I not have gone to war?

Regrets cloud my mind and take away the joy of the present. Running my hand across the rail of the Freiheit Brücke, I look down, see the bay, and the effect a single life awes me.

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Just a smidge over 1,000 words. Thanks again for your participation, Roz!

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About harrylthompsonjr

I'm a writer, a photographer, and a lover of role playing games. I've moved my blog to wordpress in hopes of actually getting some feedback. We'll see :)
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One Response to One Thousand Word Challenge: Freiheit Brücke (Freedom Bridge)

  1. Pingback: 1,000 Word Challenge 2014 |

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