I was on my fifth day at the confluence, and I had not eaten since leaving the city. On this particular morning, I found myself too weak to sit up. Though the stony ground upon which I lay was far from comfortable, the task of arising from my rest was a daunting one. A chill swept over me as the cold north wind swept along. It picked up dust, and my face was attacked by a sheet of intense pain. I covered my eyes and rolled over. I stood up, my back to the howling wind, and began to move east. The sky rapidly darkened. With the sun gone, I was even colder than before. The cruel wind only increased, and it began to rain. Within a few moments, the nearly-frozen rain was torrenting down in a steady, intense storm. I estimated I’d been walking for about fifteen or twenty minutes through the cold, hungry, wet world around me when the rain slowly began to subside. The sun never came out again that day, and my wet hair and clothes began to harden as the air around me froze.
Today I headed west along the river. Similarly to going east, the city drearily faded away. Just as the suburbs were dwindling, (after about an hour or two), I reached a spot where two rivers joined to make the one I had been for so long following. Here I sat and spent the day, with a bag of food I had brought in from town.
I was back in Eastbound relson again. I awoke from my spot underneath the Garrison Street bridge and made my way up the old stone stairs onto the sidewalk. I realized that I had never never actually made a venture across the bridge, and set off to do so. The oposite bank of the river was similar to the first. But the same type of old brick buildings began to fade as I slowly made my way out of town. They were soon replaced by newer ones, and eventually those rose up into tall, 1960s white slab apartment buildings. A 1-story, yellow-brick store sat between two twenty-story towers. A sign stretching across the top of the store read: Jackson’s Grafiti Shop. Then I had an Idea. I went into the shop, greeted the man at the cash register and stood, staring at the array of different colours. I picked out ten cans, all blues, greens and grays, and took them over to the cash. I payed for the cans, which totaled at just under 50 dollars, thanked the man, and left. The two heaping plastic bags clattered at my sides as I made my way back towards the river. About fourty minutes later, I was back at the Garrison St. Bridge. I descended the old stone stairs and made my way across the riverbank and under the concrete piers of the bridge. I stared around. the lower surfaces of the bridge were covered over with layer upon layer of Graffiti. But above a line of about ten feet up, the graffiti stopped, and the concrete lay untouched. Perfect, if only I could find some way of getting up there…An iron beam ran into the concrete about nine feet up, so if I could only climb onto it, it would be perfect.
I ran across the street and down Garrison a few blocks until I found a hardware store. I picked out a coil of rope, payed, and hastened back. I tightly coiled one end of the rope around an iron beam that made contact with the concrete about 6 feet up and tied it with the firmest naught I knew. Next, I tied the other end of the rope around a medium-sized stone, and hurled that up and over the higher iron beam. After a few tries, I succeeded, and the stone came plummeting back down, landing with a crack on the riverbank below. I untied the stone, and pulled the rope taught. I tied the two bags of paint to the end of the rope. I then pulled my way, centimetre by centimetre, up the rope to the iron beam. I pulled myself up onto it, had a seat, and proceeded to pull up the shopping bags. Once I had untied them and they sat besides me, I began to visualize my mural. I would paint all I could remember well, and all that I loved; the river. And without further ado, I began.
I began with the rapids. I remembered, all of a sudden, how much I used to paint, and it all came back to me. My hand flowed just like the river. The sun was making its way down now, and I hastened to finish the painting. Next, I drew the stones, their unique, beautiful outlines pouring out onto the empty concrete. The sun was speedily approaching the horizon. I pulled out the darkest of the greens and drew a tree. Its intricate network of branches I depicted in gray and black. I drew another, and another. Each one with no less character than a human. The sun was fading away by now, and a dark shadow was casting over my work. I took out a deep blue and began a sky. Thin, translucent clouds hang over the river. But the painting seemed to be missing something. It was missing light. I drew a bright white November sun at the very top of the sky. By now, it was near pitch black. I slid down from my perch, made my way back towards the staircase and fell asleep.
Halton Junction consisted of roughly fifty white bungalows on a few grid-system gravel roads. The main, and only paved road through town lead to a gas station which marked the town’s center. I hugged my coat around me as I lay, cold and stiff, by the roadside. A couple hundred meters ahead of me lay the town. I decided I would leave today. I made my way into town. It seemed to be getting colder by the day, and I would need a home this winter. I’d hitchhike back to Eastbound Relson. In a few minutes, I was at the gas station. I went into the small corner store that was the only store in town, and bought a chocolate bar. I wolfed down the delicious, crispy, caramelly bar in a few seconds and sat down on the grass next to the highway. As I heard an engine’s roar emerging over the horizon, I stood up and stuck out my thumb. Within a few seconds’ being out of my pocket, the cold air bit in painfully to my skin. Another few seconds and my hand was numb altogether. A white pickup truck was making its way along the highway. It neared, and so I neared the roadside. Within a couple of seconds, with a gurgling roar, it passed, leaving a cloud of exhaust behind it. I put my hands back in my pockets and sat. What to do? Not just now, but what to do with my life? What is one supposed to do with life? I don’t know. Who does?
I awoke on the slope of dirt that lead down to the gravel road that my feet lay on. Across the road, a large, metal pipeline ran alongside the road. I crossed, and sat down on one of the wooden beams that supported the pipeline. I looked in my shopping bag. I had reached the road just in time; all I had left was a single apple. I walked down alongside the pipeline a few meters towards the bridge. The pipeline proceeded to run downhill and beneath the bridge. I walked onto the wooden-pannelled surface that crossed the rushing water about twenty feet below. I sat down on the wooden railing on the side of the bridge and waited. It was even more misty up here, and I could barely see a hundred meters down the river’s pine-covered banks in either direction. I waited. I wondered, not because it mattered, but purely for the sake of entertainment, what day it was. It was probably Friday or Saturday by now. It was a beautiful bridge. I had never seen a bridge of this side made from wood. It was a good idea, if you ask me. Not that anyone would. It was probably about four hours later, probably about one in the afternoon, when the sound of an old, slow motor emerged off from my left. I got down from my seat on the railing and stuck out my thumb.
The sound of the motor grew and grew, until a pickup-truck with peeling red paint made its way over the slope towards the bridge. It was going at about the speed of a light jog. The truck made its way onto the bridge, and slowed down beside me. A man in a green jacket wearing stuck his head out and said, “Where ya headed?” I replied with the best answer I could:
“Well I can’t take you anywhere, but I can take you into town. Hop in.”, said the man.
“Great.” I said, and I made my way towards the door, trying to inhale as little as possible of the noxious fumes. I hopped in next to the man and, before I’d closed the door, we were moving.
“You from around here?”, the man asked
“I’m not sure,” I replied “Where’s here?”
“Halton Junction,” Replied the man.
“I’m not sure.”
It was raining again. A slow, cruel, cold rain. I had my coat in my one remaining shopping bag so as to have something warm to ware later on. I made every effort to preserve as much possible heat for my shivering body. With every drop, I was a bit colder, a bit more numb, but could not possibly get any wetter. Ahead in the distance, I heard a roaring stronger than the one currently coming from the river. It increased until, out of the mist ahead of me, the river rose up in a series of rapids. The white, churning, frothing stretch ahead of me leapt into the rainy mist with a thousand frothy arms. One would rise, shooting into the air, before falling, as if folding back into the churning, turbulent water. Across the river, shrouded by mist, the riverside rose up into a scraggly stone cliff, with pine saplings precariously perched on the ragged ledges. I climbed up a much smaller cliff on my side of the river, and made my way into the forest. The sound of rain was now above me, not around me, and the sound of the rapids gently faded away. I took out my jacked and put it on. I was still freezing, but it helped. I sat down on the hardly-damp pine needles and ate.
I made my back to the river, and the sound of the churning rapids once again filled my ears and mind. Behind me, evening sunlight once more shimmered on the water below the rapids, its source about once its diameter above a distant horizon of pine trees. I continued walking. Before long, the moon was once more fading through the evening sky. Ahead of me, the river turned sharply to my right. As I turned the corner, what lay ahead of me stood like a phantom, barely visible through the foggy night air above the river. At first, I thought I might be imagining it. But as I picked up my pace towards it, I realized that it really was there. It was a bridge.