Cry Baby Bridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Which is the real curse?

Submitted: May 10, 2008

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Submitted: May 10, 2008

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Cry Baby Bridge

Lydia tilted her head back and the knot of her bun dug into her neck. She sat against the cherry tree planted at the back of her parent’s home and stared out into the composed surface of the blue-black lake she’d grown up in front of. A gentle breeze from the lake wafted across her face making her long to immerse herself in the chilled waters and wash away the thoughts that had been clouding her mind for months.

As the gust of air dissipated, Lydia’s hand reached down to her waist and felt the swell of her stomach. Her thoughts returned to the first few weeks of her pregnancy when she had not yet realized the gravity of her dilemma. She had thought that all had happened was a small weight gain. At that point she’d thought that getting heavier was the worst thing that could have happened since it seemed she would never get married and live with her parents for the rest of her life. When she realized the truth, a little extra weight suddenly seemed vastly superior.

Lydia pulled her hand away from her abdomen and laid it on the tiny patch of miracle grass that had sprouted from the arid dirt. She stared out to the lake and tears began to trickle from the corners of her eyes. It wasn’t surprising that her life had turned out this way; it was the curse. All the women in her family ended up with the men that were vile to an extent more extreme than normal. Her great grandmother married a gold-digger who filtered away the family’s money. Then, at fifteen, Lydia’s grandmother wed an abusive husband who pushed her to kill herself after the birth of her first and only daughter. At birth, Lydia’s mother was promised to Lydia’s father who showed no affection to her whatsoever and forced Lydia’s mother to become a recluse from the rest of the world by forcing his work on her and eventually making her go insane. Now, Lydia had joined the ranks of her fore-family. Perhaps her baby would be a boy and she wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of forcing a curse upon an innocent little girl.

Conceivably, it was the curses fault that Eric had left even before she’d told him about their child. The curse could have made a witch come and tell him that the woman he’d seduced in the woods during the summer equinox festival was bearing his child and that he should flee town instead of bearing shame. It could have been the same witch that corrupted all the other men of Lydia’s family.

The sun wilted in the sky as Lydia sat beneath the tree and stroked the worn, red cotton of her dress that was so shapeless it hid her pregnancy perfectly. For the first time in her life, Lydia was glad that her family was too poor to afford the fashionable dresses with tight waists. However, her delight was fleeting because her dress couldn’t hide the secret forever. Lydia felt tiny rivulets of tears spilling over her eyelids and the child inside of her kicked. She ran her hands across her belly, thinking she could soothe it somehow, but it continued to kick her mercilessly. It was then that Lydia realized the baby was a girl and that she was kicking her mother for forcing her to bear the curse.

“It’s not my fault,” Lydia whispered to it. “Stop blaming me.”

Soon the sun dipped behind the silhouette of the trees that bordered the lake and the moon rose in its place. The eerie glow that the moon made on the town of Akron and Lydia’s house reminded her how full of darkness her world was, and how much darker it would soon be.

Lydia fell asleep in the radiance of the moonlight and she didn’t wake until the next morning. Her rear was sore from sitting on the rocky ground but the baby had stopped kicking and even though it had probably stopped hours ago, she felt all the relief just now. She leaned near her belly and whispered to it calmly. “I’m sorry too.”

Lydia did leave the cherry tree but never really returned to normal life. Time turned quickly and it became more obvious that she was pregnant. Before long the baby’s arrival was two weeks away. Somehow, her parents were still oblivious to it, though Lydia wasn’t surprised, as her father was a demanding and egotistical chauvinist pig that wouldn’t know his own daughter out of an entire schoolhouse. Moreover, her mother wasn’t much better either, being insane and all. Besides, Ellen didn’t have the maternal instinct that most mothers did since she’d started falling out of the motherly persona about the time Lydia had turned thirteen. The next three years after that had been nothing but, interchanging episodes of ignoring Lydia, and pestering her to get married. Even if Lydia did tell them about the child, she would be on her own.

One day she entertained the concept of running away, finding another town with a family that might take pity on her and let her stay with them, and having the baby there. The more she thought about it, the more the idea appealed to her. She’d always hated living in Akron and had always wanted to get away. People would talk, that was what gossip vultures did, but she would be long gone by the time anyone noticed her missing. Ever since the pregnancy had become more prominent, Lydia had taken to hiding in the house so as not to be seen. Half of the town probably thought she had taken ill and the other half probably thought she was dead from being ill. The next morning Lydia left home with a bag of hard bread that she had stolen from her parent’s cellar and a few towels to wrap the baby in since she expected to give birth very soon.

Very soon turned out to be an understatement; Lydia left her home directly after her parents had gone to bed. She crept silently out the door and walked along the bank of the lake to avoid any prying eyes.  Lydia didn’t set foot on the streets until the lake ended, which was about a mile away from the town. It felt strange to see the end of Lake Placida because for her entire life Lydia had looked in either direction that the water went and not see the ends. She remembered that, as a child, she’d convinced herself that the lake never ended, that it just kept going forever. Once she’d realized that no one would be on the road this late at night, Lydia crept away from the river bank and headed through the trees to the road. She then stopped for a moment and leaned against a tree to catch her breath, but only for a moment because the baby began kicking again as the bark of the tree dug into Lydia’s sweaty back. The baby kicked her and as she touched it, trying to soothe it again, and it began kicking her harder.

“Stop it,” she hissed with more malice than she’d intended. “I’m only resting.”

The baby wouldn’t have this. Apparently it was just as anxious to get away from Akron as Lydia had been. It kicked her until she was on the road and moving again and even then it didn’t stop until she’d picked up her pace to almost a run. Lydia walked too far to even remember what town she’d chosen to head towards, but after a good hour or so of walking, she stopped. For once, the baby agreed to let her rest. It showed no resistance when Lydia sat beneath a rather large tree among many others, and when Lydia coasted into a sleeping state the baby went with her. Only when a deep, dark night had fallen did the baby wake and begin to lash out.

Lydia was woken by horribly sharp pains that the kicks from earlier had only alluded. Lydia wrapped her arms around her stomach and clenched tightly. The clutching seemed to help, but almost the moment Lydia loosened her grip the baby started thrashing again. Lydia gripped her stomach again and felt her feet pushing into the soft dirt she’d just slept in. Her whole body felt as if it were being crushed between two rocks and the pain became so intense that she feared that she would fly into a million pieces at any second. She even thought a part of her was breaking off as she lay in pain beneath the trees.  

. She screamed for herself in her bleak state, overwrought with the pain of child birth. Lydia screamed as loud as she could and imagined causing all the pain she was in at this very moment. Images of the men of her family started appearing against her clenched closed eyelids. She saw herself wadding gold down the throat of her great grandfather and making him choke until he fell to the ground dead; his mouth brimming with glittering coins. She saw herself laughing over the body of her grandfather as he hung from a pole by his thumbs while horses kicked him with their hind legs. She saw her father drowning in Lake Placida, as crazy as Lydia’s mother as he sang and smiled while he died, to insane to know what was happening. Then she saw Eric. She saw a hundred images of his gory death and she took joy in every one. She saw him trampled by a hundred horses, stoned to death in the town square, and then she saw one she loved the best. Eric was in the exact place she was. He was lost in the woods and pregnant as well but he was screaming much worse than she was because he was weak! He was a weak little maggot that didn’t deserve to live! He had to die! The little weakling had to die!

Suddenly, Lydia gave birth. The child came out of her and gently connected with the ground. Lydia felt an ocean of relief wash across her body as she heaved out a huge sigh of relief. Silence blanketed her and she closed her eyes to sleep in the one moment of peace she’d had in the longest time. Then the baby started crying.

Lydia sat up and felt around in the dark for one of the towels she’d brought. The moment she felt the woven cloth, she coiled it around the baby and pulled it close to her chest. As she did, the baby quieted reverently and she kissed its forehead. No hair. She pulled its petite chest to her ears but her heart was pounding too loud for her to hear the child's. Then her pounding quieted, but she heard nothing else. As tears began to stream down her face she pushed her hand inside the cloth and felt her baby’s body. It had been a girl. Once again, Lydia was consumed with pain. She lay among the trees rocking the baby girl in her arms and wanting to hear her cry just once more. As she swayed in the night air, Lydia cried for the departed baby and sang gently. Her song went on and on into the night as she started walking again and it did not stop until Lydia came to a bridge that led to a town called Abbeville.

Years passed; Lydia never married but spent her days beneath the bridge, mourning in the darkness until she died. Centuries passed and colonial towns like Akron and Abbeville disappeared to be replaced by modern cities of the same name, but Lydia remained; in a sense.

One night, a young sixteen year old drove across the Abbeville Bridge and heard something. She turned off the ignition and listened closely to the sounds outside. Her own baby girl fidgeted in her car seat but a touch from her mother quieted her. As the girl listened through her window she heard the very faint sound of singing. She tentatively left the car and followed the sound, letting it lead her beneath the bridge where she saw nothing, but suddenly could clearly hear the singing. The long sad tones sent chills all over the girls body and she turned to quickly return to her car. As she got in, for a brief instant, she saw a figure hovering over her daughter and singing. Then the girl blinked and the figure disappeared.

So did her baby.


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