Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kinzua - Flash Fiction - A to Z Challenge

Kinzua Viaduct; looking over the side, circa 1999. Copyright 2011 Lisa Vooght

Jump said a voice from somewhere.

Give me a sign I replied, silently.

But there was nothing which I could construe as such; the hawk circling lazily at eye level was intent on his own business, and the green swell of earth below shrugged and stood voiceless and ancient.

I leaned out further, studying the delicate lace of the ironwork, bleeding its rust in the hot sun. I envisioned the plunge downward.

A whistle tore through the air, and I jumped.

Not over the side, but inside of my skin, the sudden and reflexive shudder of the startle reflex. I bent down to touch the rail and feel its hum. I stood, and then picked my way over the venetian blinds of ties and gaps toward the smoking Iron Horse which was waiting.

A beautiful bridge, an engineering marvel, graceful and powerful, spanning the valley and able to carry tons of metal high into the air. It's working days were over, but it remained a wonder and a destination for many just the same. There were always one or two passengers who refused to cross; the train stopped before tiptoeing across, allowing those distrustful souls to exit and stand firmly planted to the earth while the rest of the human cargo completed the journey to the other side. I rode across many times, but just as often I detrained and walked over on my own. I have always been seduced by high places, by the sky, and by the tenuous thread that ties us to this life.

We trust in our man-made things, sometimes out of arrogance and sometimes because we must. We put our faith in things which seem substantial; structures, people, promises, ideals. Yet strength and security can be an illusion. We can never know, not really; we decide as we go, weighing the odds and the risks.

Kinzua bridge is no more. That which held untold tons of iron and steel in the form of locomotives was brought down by the power of that which cannot be seen or held; the very air itself. I wonder how many of those who never crossed congratulated themselves on their foresight. I wonder if the bridge cried out as it died, or if it collapsed in silent solitude.

I remember the wind in my hair and the feeling that the bridge held me in its hands, close enough to almost touch the sky, as the earth called to me from below.

I am saddened that it is no more.

Kinzua bridge by Jack Boucher, US Nat'l park service, via wikimedia commons


  1. Another great story, how I wish I could write like that.
    A good K word.

  2. Great post Li - this looks like an iconic structure. Did it just fall down?

  3. Awesome story Li and I really loved the questions to the bridges last moments :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  4. Beautifully done. Love the idea of the earth calling from below....

  5. Nicely done. I like flash fiction. Me, I would need a few pages to write this, then have my editor chop it down to size.

  6. Suspenseful, wistful, very nice. We put our trust in structures, because they are tangible. I like that.

  7. A beautifully written piece, so much so that I had to look up the fate of Kinzua Bridge. It is perhaps fitting that it remains as a tourist attraction to its ruins. Man is Engineer but Man cannot conquer Nature.

  8. Gosh, this was a good piece. This particularly struck me: "I have always been seduced by high places, by the sky, and by the tenuous thread that ties us to this life." Anyway, the whole thing was both beautiful and melancholy. the writing is crisp, descriptive, but not flowery...I guess polished is the best word. Vb

  9. Nice, entertaining and interesting piece!

    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

  10. Beautiful story very nostalgic, as delicious as this photo, travel to another dimension full of tenderness and courage. A greeting.