The Other Side
“Come on Rich,” said Wendy, “We need to get back, pick up the kids.”
Rich had marched on ahead and was staring down the narrow walkway of a wooden, white-painted bridge.
“I’m sure this wasn’t here before,” he said.
“Maybe, maybe not,” said Wendy. “Can we just go?”
“No, I’m serious. I’ve been coming to this park since I was a kid and this bridge has never been here.”
The wind blew through the large weeping willow at the opposite end of the bridge, obscuring the view of the other side.
“I’m just going to nip across and have a little peek,” said Rich.
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” said Wendy, “We need to go!”
Rich pulled back the right sleeve of his jacket and checked his watch. “We’ve got five minutes,” he said, “It won’t take long.”
“Whatever.” said Wendy, already heading for the car park. “I’ll be in the car.”
“Cool,” replied Rich, without breaking his gaze, and off he set.
The wooden boards creaked beneath Rich’s old walking boots. Below, the ice blue water darted and flitted playfully downstream. Rich covered the last few planks in one large stride and pushed through the curtained foliage of the willow. He froze. The lawn in front of him sparkled like a carpet of emeralds in the sun, and wildflowers, shining like earthed jewels, lined the edges of three paths, which twisted and turned in the distance towards three separate entrances in the hedged outer wall of a maze.
“Fuckin hell,” said Rich, and motioned towards the left pathway before checking himself and, turning around, pushing back through the willow leaves.
The sky had deepened to a dark grey hue, and Wendy was nowhere to be seen. The car park was deserted. Rich pulled his sleeve down again and stared at the face of his watch, tapping it lightly a few times. He scratched his head, then, with a heavy sigh, he set off on the long walk home.