The plummet

27 Mar

One hand on a jutting edge of concrete here, one foot on a block of creosote-soaked post there, move by studied practiced move, I made my way from the topside of the bridge to the edge of the river below, where some of my friends were already swimming.  Above me, my brother, who was two years younger and had never done this before, was supposed to be watching me, listening to me describe how to do it as I went down.

When I reached the bottom, my rubber soled sneakers raised a puff of dust from the parched dirt at the base of the concrete bridge pillar and I looked up at the dark outline of the bridge to where my brother was merely a roundish black outline of head above the bridge rail, the sun-shot centre of the midday summer sky blindingly white behind him.

“Okay,” I shouted up.  “Now, first…”  And the rest was silent, solemn, blurred motion of boy in red shirt and blue shorts against grey pillar as my brother plummeted from the top of the bridge to land with a sudden, lung-emptying thud on the hard dirt at my feet, curled away from me like the husk of  a dried out larva, a cloud-like disturbance of dust settling over him like a shroud.

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