I came across this writing exercise I did for Dean Wesley Smith's Originality workshop on YouTube. The prompt was "a character standing on a bridge." (unedited, straight from my brain to the keyboard.)
She stopped in the middle of the bridge and set down her pack, catching her breath after the long walk through the rugged territory that had led to this narrow gap in the mountains. A cold wind whistled down the gorge, setting the bridge to shivering. She shivered as well, and not just from the wind. The urge to look back, just once, was more than she had will to resist, so she looked.
Nothing behind her.
Only the forest, the trees standing so close together, their branches so heavy and dense, that no moonlight could filter through to lessen the thick darkness among the trunks. Nothing else lay that way; everything that had existed for her now lay buried beneath fresh-turned earth.
She looked down, over the thin wooden rail of the thin wooden bridge that creaked beneath her feet. Far below in the gorge, moonlight glinted on the ripples in the narrow, swift-flowing river where it ran over rocks.
Nothing below, except for a burst of pain on hitting the cold water and the rocks just beneath the surface, followed by -- whatever lay beyond that. She had a hard time believing it was anything but oblivion.
Ahead lay more dark forest, as dense and lightless as its twin on the other side of the bridge. A path must lead on from the bridge, else why was the bridge here at all? But she had never heard anyone speak of an end to the forest, of any sort of destination such a path, assuming it existed, might lead to.
So, ahead of her, more nothing as well.
Nothing behind her but loss, nothing below her but oblivion, nothing ahead but the unknown.
Having caught her breath, she stood, considering the three different kinds of nothing. Or there was a fourth kind; she could simply sit down here, in the middle of the bridge, and wait for the end that would come sooner or later. But that would inevitably lead to the same oblivion that awaited her below, less painful but dragged out unbearably slow.
Loss, oblivion, or the unknown.
Finally she shouldered her pack and took a step forward, then another, then another. Of the three nothings, only the unknown held the possibility that it might change. So that was where she would go.
This might eventually turn into something. My brain is working on it, trying it out with other scraps of ideas that aren't quite ready to go.
In the meantime, the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings is progressing nicely (finally, after two false starts), and I'm still working on the second major revision of Source-Breaker. Hoping to have some cover art to show off soon!
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