The Bridgehouse Game
The Bridgehouse Game
©2012 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
At the time, I was a student of anthropology with a particular interest in primordial sacrificial ritual—a Flemish academic I was, surrounded by decay. Paradoxically, I had for years patiently waited for the slow and unpleasant death of a grand-aunt, anticipating a handsome financial legacy. It was not, incidentally, nothing to guard her bedside during the convalescence, and no small gratitude to bring her her favourite things—koek, Tierentijn’s famous mustard, matte taart from the right bakery. Believe me, she was a lovely individual and when she finally passed away, to honour her life, I designed and had built a living space, quite modern in function, which served me well.
It was cherry-red painted steel and spanned the ancient Leie, in Ghent, België, acting as both house for me, and bridge for the people. The roof was well insulated though I could feel the reverberation of foot traffic sometimes, revelers during the Gentse Feesten, and the cyclists who used my house to get from one side of the canalized waterway to the other. Melissa lived here with me at the time. She was an opportunist, yes, but she was sad—bitchy and beautiful in her sorrow—and I fell for that.
The water of the Leie barely flowed and smelled horribly. It seeped into our waking dreams, but we became used to it.
I was studying one night, occasionally looking up from my book to tell Melissa about a series of barrows in England that were vaginal in configuration, and absolutely monstrous is size, and thought to have been tributes to some sort of earth goddess. They had got me thinking about the enclosed tunnel under the house—the tunnel my bridge house created!—and the water causeway as a sexual avenue. It was, I told her, “A sacred place where ancients sacrificed in the hope of cyclical fecundity.”
“And you the dryad,” she muttered. She was writing in her journal, something I found later and kept away from the authorities. It read, for example: My fingers along her trachea.
“Centaur,” I corrected, noting that dryads were for sissies.
“Ah,” she said, “because you are half-assed.”
(This is a short excerpt from the story. The story in its entirety will be published by Pelgrane Press in its anthology Schemers in 2013. Thank you all for commenting on the piece and for your encouragement. It meant a lot to me.)