It’s not every day that you find yourself screaming at a stranger in the middle of a bridge. She just hit me full on with her car while I was trying to cross. The sandwich shop a bit ahead seemed interesting, and I had priority. The impact dislocated my left knee. It clicked back, meaning I am standing on a painful leg.
“What the hell were you doing?” I ask severely agitated. “I had priority”
“I had to brake! You were not paying attention!” she calls back. “You should have seen that I was driving here”
“I saw you. I was just looking at that sandwich shop, because it seems that they have good sandwiches. You had no right to drive on. I had priority. If I’d walked thirty-three centimeters further, you’d have killed me!” This last part is bluff. I want to add some spice to the moment. I think it’s a suitable way to express my vulnerability as a pedestrian.
“Thirty three centimeters? Not 32 or 34?” she asks mockingly.
“That is not the point. The point is that you made a big mistake by entering my knee. I’m going to sue you.” To add some power to my words, I point my finger straight at her not unpleasant face. I take a step in her direction with my painful leg. She remains terribly calm.
“You were not paying attention to the road, drama queen. Your mind was on sandwiches. Besides, you were walking too fast.”
“If I was walking quickly, that was because of the appealing way in which they presented the sandwiches in that shop. I cannot help that. Just look at it.”
“Well, that’s right, but I’m not filling in the papers with you, and I’m certainly not letting you sue me.”
“You have no say in that!” I roar. “I’ll note down your licence plate number and go to the police.”
I stumble to the back of her car. This should shut her up.
“You know what, mister tall man, why don’t you go for a swim?” She grabs me by the chest, and tips my good leg out of balance. Backwards, I hobble and bobble over the street while she insists on bringing me to the fence. I realise this is not going the way I want it to when my bottom hits it. When she grabs my inner thighs, I’m shocked, when she pulls them up: astonished. That felt good for a second. Now, my centre of gravity is on a side of the fence where it should not.
My hands try to get hold of anything they can reach, but they fail. Head first, I’m speeding up towards the clear blue water under the bridge. I’ve been beaten by a girl. She managed to vanish from my life. All that stands between me and the turbulent surface is a bit of air and a second. Half a second. Clearly not enough to complete another thought. I’m above all surprised. Instinctively, I stretch my body to diving mode, and make up for a cold impact.
From a distance, a couple walking along the river banks sees a tall body being tilted over the bridge. They too are surprised.
“Did you see that?”
“This guy fell of the bridge”
“But this woman threw him off…”
“It seems like it”
“She’s driving away”
“Nobody stops her”
“Should we do something?”
“I don’t know… What could we do? She’s gone already”.
“Let’s have a sandwich.”
My eyes close right before my body cuts into the water. It’s cold but nice. My arms spread, and I make a half loop back to the surface. The water streams past my skin. It washes my heavy limbs, refreshes them. I dive under once more, this time with open eyes. The pain shoots back into my knee. The bitch. First she hits me with a car and then she throws me off a bridge? What the hell was she thinking? I want to find her, so I carefully swim to the shore, pushed forward by the water. It’s a wall. Quite a high wall in fact. Too high it seems. I don’t know where to start. My hurting knee will not help either. I might be able to grab a brick and work my way up slowly. The current’s strong though.
My hands slip off every stone I touch. In an attempt to kick myself out of the water, I hurt my knee again. Man, do I wish to get hold of that girl. When I finally manage to grab a brick, the water instantly pulls me off. I try harder, it pulls harder. My chest scrapes the wall. I get carried further and further away from the bridge. No chance here. There might be some mountable holes in the walls further on. I let myself go with the stream, but anger rushes through my veins. Was this necessary? Could we not have found a solution? What have I done that justified throwing me into this river? It was her own fault in the first place. Why didn’t she brake?
I can’t get out. The bricks here may be slightly better to handle, but there are no pieces missing. Maybe I can cross the river and try it there. But the current is strong, and the wall doesn’t seem that different. It’s worth the try. I push off from this shore and swim in a right angle on the current, which keeps pushing me further down stream. It is a long distance with this knee. I tell myself to keep going. My head gets below the surface. I am getting colder. Swim faster. I can’t, it hurts. The water carries on. The shore walls don’t seem more accessible downstream. Stairs? None. My head goes down again. I open my eyes and see the bottom. Plants are dancing with the current. Some have white flowers. Star shaped once. They look cute.
Halfway, cold, I’m struck by another wave of anger towards my aggressor. Would she know how impossible this situation is for me? Is she not ashamed? Would she apply for time in jail? Bet she would. I’m swimming for my life now and besides I missed a sandwich. Pity. It could have been good. My head goes under again. Except for the passing of the water, I don’t hear anything down here. Something shiny. Two eyes, hidden between the starflowers. I go nearer. Crystal green-blue. Astonishing. Not real. I need to breathe. Up.
I’m at the other shore now. Tired and puzzled. Even under water, leaning on my knee is problematic. It hurts to climb the wall, but I manage to rise about a meter. Another step up. No chance. I’m not a climber. I almost get above the surface, but there’s a long way to go. My hands slip, and I fall with my back on the water. I breathe out, and sink slowly to the rocks. What can I do? Swim up and try again? I do, only to find myself back here a minute later. Lay here? Slowly run out of air and faint? The river pulls my legs. My arms. It catches me by the chest, and turns me over. And again. I’m rolling sideways over the river floor. My diaphragm contracts. And again. Air. I have no choice but to push off. Back to the surface. Mouth out, breathe, and back down. I swim along for a bit.
Those eyes again. They’re less intense. They move. A fish? It moves like a fish. Strong tale. A serene face. It puts me at ease in this cold water. No more questions. I have to go up for air again. I don’t feel like it, but I have to. The eyes know. They read it from my movements. Contractions force me up. The air feels strange. Gone. Where did she go? Beautiful eyes. I sink again as I breathe out slowly, back to the rocks and the plants. Gently pushed forward. It’s nice here, with the stream passing by. Did she go ahead? Where to? A voice sings. It’s high, melodious. A female voice. It plays with the current. Jumps over it. Louder and then silent. It somehow connects sound with the abyss. I postpone going up for as long as I can. My lungs want to collapse. Air. It feels cold and it stings my insides. Back under. The current helps me roll through space and time. My jaws move outward. I let the water in. It feels warm. Where did the singing go? Where did everybody go?
The shore seems distant. All I want is to follow the water downwards. Make loops. Swim on my back. Feel it rush by my ears, through my veins. Hear it sing. Hear her sing. Look into her eyes. Which way is up? Do I need to go there? I don’t know. I’m good here. Carried away by a flow to destiny. Something stirs inside me. I go towards the light. I choke. It’s cold up here. My flippers beat the stream. There’s nothing else then to follow it. Where are my friends? Are they looking for me? Why don’t they? Waves from behind support my way. Lead me to them. The water runs through my mouth, along my gills and back outside. I introduce it to my blood. It tastes delicious. The river propels me, drags me, pulls me and lifts me into splatters. I breathe it and drink it, beating along with the current, cast towards my destination. Her voice has evaporated. I am alone again.
Just before she wants to take a bite, a huge fish falls upon her face. With her sandwich in its mouth, it flaps its way back over the fence. She runs towards it. The deep blue mirror of the lake shows not the slightest wrinkle.