Day Drinking at the Bridge by L.L. Asher
“Gimme some more.” Sarah elbowed Jessie.
Jessie swung her backpack around, swaying, and fished out the orange soda bottle. She swung it like a clock’s pendulum. The soda/vodka concoction swished.
“Damnit,” Sarah said, snatching it. “It’s almost gone!” She unscrewed the lid and chugged the rest.
Jessie doubled over, laughing.
“What’s your deal?” Sarah tossed the bottle away.
“That was backwash.” Jessie looked up, wrinkling her nose. “You drank our spit.” She gagged, then broke into laughter again.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “How drunk are you?”
Jessie wiped away tears. “My mom’s gonna kill me. That was all her vodka.”
“My dad has some stashed. Wanna come over?”
“Sure. Wait, no.” Jessie turned to Sara.
“We have to go through Rotter’s Bridge to get to your house.”
“It’s Rocker’s Bridge. The homeless people are only there at night. It’s safe during the day.”
Jessie raised an eyebrow, then snorted more laughter.
“OMG, you’re drunk!” Sarah led them toward Rocker’s Bridge.
The dilapidated covered bridge towered over Rocker’s River, serving as the only connection between the north and south halves of town within a two-mile radius. Red paint flaked away from rotting paneled boards.
“It’s too dark in there,” Jessie whispered.
Sarah turned to see Jessie backing away.
“I’m going home,” Jessie said. “I’m not going in there.”
“I walk this every day after school. C’mon, my buzz’s wearing off. I wanna get home before dad.”
Jessie pointed to the bridge, her face contorting.
Sarah twisted back and saw a glass bottle roll out from the shadows, echoing against the walls before bouncing from the timbered bridge to the dirt road.
Sarah glared into the shadows and gasped. A figure stumbled into the light, hunched, and reaching for the bottle. He stopped when he reached the bridge’s edge and stood. A hood covered his head and face. Something dripped from his beard, oozing down his jacket. He swayed, then he pointed to the bottle.
Sarah stepped back.
Sarah heard footsteps pound away behind her. She turned and watched Jessie disappear around the corner.
“Bitch.” Sarah turned back to the bridge.
The man pointed at the bottle. One of his knees buckled and he fell.
“You okay?” Sarah took a step. “Look, man, I gotta get home.”
The man laid on his side, grunting and pointing.
She glanced at the bottle.
“If I get it, will you let me pass?”
He grunted again, more fluid bubbling down his beard.
“I’ve got mace.” She reached into her bookbag and pulled out the tube chained to her keys, keeping it pointed at him as she reached for the bottle. Her fingers wrapped around the cold glass and heard the man scream but didn’t care. She held the bottle, feeling the weight of sloshing liquid. A string of saliva dripped from the corner of her mouth. She dropped the mace, her keys clinking as it landed. A breeze wafted the scent of the vodka. Heat swelled in her belly. She brought the bottle to her lips.
The vodka seared her tongue and throat, but she couldn’t stop drinking. It filled her stomach with flaming pain, but she couldn’t pull the glass from her lips. Her eyes rolled to the man on the bridge waving her inside. She tried to scream as she stepped toward him and the burning liquid filled her lungs. She fell forward, her chest heaving while she choked, inhaling more vodka. Sarah lurched at the man, reaching for him with her free hand, moving further onto the bridge. As her fingertips grazed his jacket, he vanished.
More vodka clogged her windpipe. The world faded around her as she burned on the inside.
Sarah woke and lifted her head, the world spinning, and saw the man standing just outside Rocking Bridge.
Fiery liquid poured from her mouth when she called out.
I can’t understand, she tried to say but vodka gushed from her mouth and nose, the agony causing her to reel back. She felt blisters swelling inside her.
He made a fist, sticking out his thumb and pinky and touched his thumb to his lips, then threw his back.
The bottle. Vodka spewed to the floor.
He touched his chest, then pointed to her, then mimed the bottle once more, and turned and ran.
Sarah pushed herself to her hands and knees and vomited. Blood and pus burst from her blisters, giving the vodka an orange hue.
She crawled to the edge of the bridge but hit some sort of barrier when she reached the edge.
Her eyes darted across the bridge in search of the bottle to roll out to the next day drinker.
About the Author
L.L. Asher lives in Dallas, Georgia, has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is working on a second degree in English with a concentration in Writing. L.L. is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, a Stanley Cyrus Award winner in Creative Writing, a Cygnet Award winner in Creative Writing, #FWContest winner, and has published over twenty short stories with TD;LR Press, Cough Syrup Magazine, Constant Readers, Manqué, Zimbell House Publishing, Meduspod, Bewildering Stories, Castabout Art & Literature, The Raven Chronicles, Blood Moon Rising, Things in the Well, Fantasia Divinity Publishing, Bending Genres, Writer’s Club and the Cygnet.
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