We met on a bridge that crossed over a thin dry stream which led to the Atchafalaya River. I went there to fish, not knowing that the stream had evaporated, and a lady was standing there, looking into the dirt bed. She wore a black tank top and red pajama pants. She had blond hair and I could only make out her silhouette with the sun directly behind her. A June bug flew into my forehead and I dropped my tackle box and it hit the railing of the bridge, falling over into the stream-less stream, making a loud clanking noise--like the sound of a ghost in chains, roaming around the hallways of an abandoned mansion, searching for etouffee. She jerked back and yelped, but didn't look at me.
"Didn't mean to scare you," I said.
She kept looking over the railing like the stream was filled with dolphins and treasure chests. All I saw were aluminum cans.
"The thief took it," she said.
"Who?" I said.
"Sunken dreams now," she said. "Nothing but clinks and clanks and rubber boots and tires. She was thirsty, that thief. Angry. The stream took, so she took."
"She used a bucket, she said. She came in at night and left in the morning. It wasn't that hard if you're full of scorn."
"I used to come here all the time to fish, years ago," I said.
Her thoughts were gone, like they had evaporated with the stream. I stared at the nails protruding from the side of the bridge.
"My brother drowned in it a year ago, she said. The stream is a thief. I'm a thief."
"Well it was nice talking to you," I said.
She stood up on the railing, making a creaking noise.
"Don't fall," I said.
She turned around and looked at me--brown and watery eyes--and jumped backwards off the railing. She didn’t make the same clanking noise that the tackle box had made. It was one muffed thud, causing a cloud of dirt to rise and settle in the air. Some cans were crushed. Her shoes were placed on the railing, side by side, with her socks in them. Next to them were a watch, a locket necklace, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure.
Shome Dasgupta's fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Mud Luscious, Word Riot, The Kartika Review, Abjective, Paperwall, Bartleby Snopes, and Poetic Voices Without Borders 2. Forthcoming publications include appearances in The Dead Mule School Of Southern Literature and Sein Und Werden.