Where Angels Trod
Audra Kerr Brown
You were tired of rust and ash, of flake and gray. “Look at me,” you said. “Spotted as a bull snake, wrinkled as a sow’s ass. I want to see something young and shiny.” So I drove you to the new bridge, helped you stand at its base. You arched your arthritic neck, swayed like a drunk in your orthopedic shoes and whistled—high and long—the way you used to whistle at Mom when she dressed for church. Then you clapped your hat against your chest to keep it from blowing away or maybe out of reverence or incredulity, for it was both holy and blasphemous, this otherworldly structure rising from the humble Midwestern landscape like twin Nephilim drawing up nets taut with fish. “Let’s dare to tread where angels trod,” you said, pointing your cane, and I pushed your wheelchair forward.
Halfway up I set your brakes to catch my breath. You stood, began shuffling toward the setting sun, the tap-tap-tap of your cane echoing the slow beat of your weakened heart. I came after you, but you waved me away, eyes fixed on the horizon. At that instant you were Moses on Mt.Sinai, and I made a visor with my hands, watched your doddering form disappear into the sun: the clouds above, the water below rushing toward the future. And when you returned—just minutes later—your white hair danced on end like a halo of live wires, your cheeks, your smiling cheeks, flushed and shining as if you had seen the very face of God.
Note: Originally published in May 2016, Cheap Pop.
I was fortunate enough to take a fiction class with one of the great flash writers of our day, Kathy Fish. One of her prompts was to try write a story in one breathless sentence. Immediately I had an image of a man and his father walking together on a bridge that spanned over rushing waters. I knew there would be contrasting themes of young/old, fast/slow, life/death, but while I was writing, I noticed the emergence of other paradoxical elements, and I allowed these images to carry me like a swift current to the end.
Audra Kerr Brown lives betwixt the corn and soybean fields of southeast Iowa. Her fiction can be found at Fiction Southeast, Cheap Pop, Fjords Review (Monthly Flash), People Holding, Maudlin House, Popshot Magazine, and Pithead Chapel, among others.