The Event on Father Matthew Bridge
Howling wind whipped between the buildings of Dublin. It had been hours since the sun had dropped below the horizon, and the temperature had followed
suit – falling to near record lows.
The River Liffey ran through the center of the sprawling Irish metropolis; its waters were choppy, and thrashed wildly against the northern and
southern banks of the city. The water was near freezing, and moved quickly down its channel; flowing eagerly towards the Irish Sea, which divided
Ireland from the United Kingdom. Trees had been planted on either side of the river in random locations, and made the streets look more natural and
Claire Dempsey stood on the Father Mathew Bridge, leaning against the rough stone rails that stretched across the walkway. She watched the waters of
the river below rush through the three arched openings of the crossing. She wondered how far the current would carry her body if she were to let
herself fall over the railing, and what it would feel like to splash down into the murky blackness. She didn’t normally have such grotesque
thoughts, but Claire had reached a mental breaking point that no twelve-year-old should ever reach.
Her red hair was pulled back into a tight pony tail. Wispy bangs hung over her forehead, tickling her face as they moved in the breeze. Claire’s
skin looked milky white under the glow of the full moon, and was amplified by the dark colors of her punkish outfit.
A red and black checkered skirt hung around her thighs, which transitioned into a black top that fit snugly against her upper body. Black leather
boots covered her feet, and came almost up to her knees – leaving a few inches of goose bumped skin exposed between the bottom of her dress, and end
of her footwear.
Her left cheek was bruised, and the flesh around her green left eye was swollen.
Claire fought back tears that were welling up in the pits of her eyes. Her nose was growing stuffy, making it difficult for her to breath. Tremors
shook her legs, making her feel unstable on her own two feet. Her entire body felt broken and corrupt.
The memories of the past few hours were flashing through her mind. She was unable to think of anything else but the pain and betrayal from her
step-father; a betrayal so filthy as to demand retribution and vengeance. But such vengeance was beyond the scope of a pre-teen, who was a twig
compared to her overweight, pig of a guardian.
“The water is almost inviting isn’t it?” purred a smooth voice. “But it wouldn’t feel very good to take a swim this time of year.”
Claire spun around on the heels of her boots, her red pony tail whipping from behind her head and slapping her on the face. A woman stood on the other
side of the narrow bridge watching her. She was leaned against the railing, her arms folded under her breasts, with a look of curiosity on her
The woman wore a black vest with a black undershirt. Dark cotton pants clung to her legs, and a pair of worn padded shoes covered her feet. A large
black trench coat hung from the woman’s shoulders, and dangled just above her ankles. Her head was topped with a large brimmed hat, which cast dark
shadows over her face. Her oily black hair was braided, and lay over her left shoulder. Gold clasps ran the length of the braids, glittering under the
“Who are you?” asked Claire in a thick Irish accent.
“My name is Aeliana,” said the woman, moving a few slow paces toward Claire. Her arms gently moved with each step, matching the rhythmic sway of
her hips. She held up her hands, exposing her palms to Claire. “I mean you no harm, child.”
Claire eyed the woman cautiously. “I can tell from your voice that you’re a foreigner. Don’t you know it’s dangerous in the city at
Aeliana smiled and put her hands down. “I could tell you the same thing, young girl.”
“It’s safer for me out here than at home,” said Claire. As the words came out of her mouth, tears began to drip from her eyes. She could never
have imagined that she would feel more safe standing on the Matthew Bridge at night, in the presence of some mysterious woman. “Just leave me alone,
“I’ve never been accused of being responsible,” said Aeliana. “But to leave a young woman alone on a bridge in the middle of the night seems
like a gross negligence on my part - especially when that girl looks to be entertaining suicidal thoughts.”
“What the hell do you know of my thoughts?” burst Claire. “Some sort of psychic are ya – maybe just a simple gowl? It’s none of your
business why I’m out here.”
Aeliana’s face didn’t betray the slightest hint of anger. If anything her expression became more soft, and sympathetic. “You’re right,” she
said. “It’s none of my business why you’re standing on this bridge in the middle of the night. But, I do happen to be psychic.”
“You’re very quare,” said Claire. “Prove your talents then. What number am I thinking of?”
“Twelve,” said Aeliana.
Claire shook her head. “Wrong. I wasn’t thinking of a number. I was thinking of a color.”
Aeliana shrugged her shoulders, and smiled. “I never said I was a good psychic.”
On reflex Claire grinned. Something about the woman was soothing. After a moment Clair realized the woman’s mannerisms reminded her of her mother,
who had died last year. “Maybe you should try for a different profession than psychic-nighttime-bridge-therapist.”
Aeliana stepped next to Claire, who hadn’t realized how tall the woman was until she was next to her. The sweet smell of cinnamon invaded Claire’s
nose, and reminded her of cookies she used to eat when she was a little girl. The smell was coming from Aeliana in waves, helping to calm Claire’s
“What happened to your swollen cheek?” asked Aeliana. She let her long thin finger gently trace the outline of Claire’s facial bruise. Claire
almost pushed her hand away, but was so desperate for any source of comforting affection she allowed the woman's gentle touch. Aeliana took off her
trench coat, and wrapped the thick fabric around Claire’s body to help warm her. “I think I already know what happened. But I think it would help
you emotionally if you talked about it.”
“My stepdad happened,” said Claire. She worked her jaw around, which was something she did when trying to control her emotions. She didn’t want
to tell anyone about what had happened to her -but she knew that if she talked to someone it would help. “Ever since my mom died he has been extra
friendly with me.” She looked up into Aeliana’s face, who was nodding her understanding. “Tonight I couldn’t take any more of his
‘kindnesses’. I fought him. He hit me. I ran.”
“And now here you are,” said Aeliana.
“Here I am.”