The Broken Bridge – extract

‘You know what the Victorians said? I read it in the Daily Mail. They said kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt!’

That seemed so funny that Ginny burst out laughing. ‘Eating an egg without. ..Oh, Duw, that’s amazing! Eating a man without salt is like kissing an egg without a moustache!’ Rhiannon was giggling too.

‘Kissing a moustache without salt is like eating a man without an egg …’

Now they were helpless, rolling about on the bumpy rock aching with laughter. On and on it went, getting crazier and crazier, and the dark question turned around and retreated back into the dimness it lived in: still awake, though. Not asleep.

Later on they jumped across the river into the little grove of trees below the bridge. They were oak trees, gnarled and bent, hardly any higher than the stone wall that ran along the road above. Ginny felt that they were very ancient, these trees. Under their shade it was quiet and still, and the moss-covered rocks, flecked and dappled with sunlight, seemed like hassocks in a ruined church. She supposed that the Druids would have come to places like these to worship their gods.

Ginny said, ‘Did she know who you were when she came to the door?’

‘Who, Helen? Not for a few seconds. After all, I was six or something when she left. I’m bound to look different. I’ve got bosoms, for a start. I keep trying to bring them to Peter’s attention.’

‘Doesn’t he notice?’ said Ginny. ‘He’s too nice. He’s kind. The trouble with people is they’re not sexy. Maybe I’ll ask Helen about it. She’s bound to know the answer to life. Worldly-wise, that’s what she is.

‘Bound to be.’

‘Maybe it’s worth having a kind person, even if they’re not sexy,’ Ginny said, plucking shreds of moss from the rock she was sitting on.

‘No,’ said Rhiannon, sighing. ‘It’s funny, isn’t it? Sexy people couldn’t care less if they’re kind or not, but all the kind people wish they were sexy. But you’re either one or the other.’

‘I bet some people are both.’

‘Impossible. It’s tragic. Life’s a tragedy, see.’

‘Oh, right, ‘ said Ginny

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