Ino and I both wrote a flash fiction story called ‘Railings.’
The rusted iron railings that run along each side of the bridge are supposed to make it safe. But there’s a gap one side where anyone could fall down into the water below, and it’s shallow water, which would make it a hard impact. The gap looks just the right size to fit a child or a dog.
I have to cross the bridge to get from my hotel into town. It looms before me like an obstacle in a computer game that you must get past, but I have only one attempt, not many like in the game, and one slip would be fatal.
The Mediterranean sunlight slants into my eyes as I approach the bridge, along the narrow path. I pull my sunhat down over my eyebrows, and reach out one hand towards the railing. When I grasp it the structure shifts sideways, making a grinding sound in the dirt.
I let go and trust my sense of balance, looking down to avoid the sunbeams, and the path passes under my feet too slowly. At least it’s moving, so the ordeal will soon be over.
But I’m planning on going back to the hotel for lunch today, and why shouldn’t I? It’s my holiday. I don’t want whoever has failed to maintain the bridge to have power over me, forcing me to stay in town. I need to be brave. I need to cross the bridge nonchalantly, whenever I want to.
Victorian houses used to have iron railings, enclosing the garden. Basement houses still have them, often carved with fluted designs of maple leaves, birds or berries.
I want to rent the basement flat. It reminds me of one where I attended discussions about famous philosophers during my teens. Living here will perhaps connect me with ages of architectural design, passed down with ages of wisdom.
I will have to clean the railings: they are coated with cobwebs and dust. I hope that they will shine when I have finished- black things CAN shine. The sheen will reflect my personality imposed on the old railings, bringing them into the present day, and further imprinting them with the day to day routine of my life. What they enclose now will be different, yet the iron bars themselves will remain indifferent to it.
My mind is racing too far ahead. I haven’t even made an appointment with the estate agent yet, and the basement flat may no longer be available, or there may be some other hitch. It could be that I will have to stay for a while longer in my house without character, a featureless modern bungalow built by a company who never got over congratulating themselves that they were not building a block of flats, or a supermarket. If so, I shall carry on looking for a house with railings.