For as long as she could remember there had always been talk about it. When some families had earned enough money, or had become worthy in some way they had left the neighborhood and traveled there, but they never came back. No one in their village had seen it, in fact most who were born there did nothing more than work, have children and die there.
The village was nicer than most, small plain houses each exactly the same as the last in structure. There were porches littered with sitting chairs and tables that had seen better days but looked to be in a state of good use. The lawns were long and wild, surrounded by rusted metal wired fencing, dividing them into neat little squares. Some had seasonal wildflowers that stretched strong and tall through the grass. The village was old, worn and decaying in some places but, all in all, it looked much worse that it actually was to live there.
To the east of this village there lay a bridge with a gate beneath it. The bridge was made of stone and concrete, it didn’t stretch very high but it was a very obvious sight if one walked by it. There were three arches. The farther arches had paths beneath them for walking; they were gated. The central one had a road that a truck could drive through, but it was gated as well. No one knew what lay on the other side of this bridge; it just simply existed, as if it were simply something part of the landscape similar to a hill or a valley. It was something that one noticed but never really had the inclination to explore further.
In the night a girl strolled along the broken and jagged sidewalk, a small bag clutched to her chest. She was slightly hunched over in attempt to starve off the unseasonable chill that resided in the night air. The night was still and silent, there were seldom people out after dark in the village. Her footsteps echoed in the night as she strolled past the bridge and she stopped. A wind blew a long strand of dark hair from her face and she turned, pausing slightly. Her gaze solely on the bridge and a curiosity sparked though her mind and she wondered: It’s not guarded, what if I just, went through it. And the thought circulated and bounced in her head for a few minuets before she shook it to rid her mind of it and then continued walking.
Her footsteps echoed slightly as she walked on before reaching a small house that was a little more rundown than most around it but the lawn was kept neat. It leaned off of its frame and some of the wood around the base had started to come away, but it was nice. It was dark in the house when she entered, and the floorboards creaked with each step as she made her way up the stairs and to her own room. It was styled similarly to the rest of the house, simple but clean. Sitting down on the bed, she began to unlace her boots and started to remember the time the last family had left.
It was over six months ago, and it had all started with a letter. It wasn’t very long, it told them to pack up their things by noon on a Sunday and that they should be excited because they were receiving a new house. There was nothing particularly special about these families this one had two children, a husband and a wife. This was fewer than most that lived here but not terribly uncommon, she thought. That Sunday at noon on the dot a large truck had come, friendly men in white had packed up their belongings and then they were gone. No trace, no letters, nothing; just gone.
A new family had only recently taken their place, and was one of the few making attempts to leave. Sadly, though not surprisingly, they were met with little success. They either didn’t have enough money, enough credit, enough something or other to leave. Like everyone else, bound by whatever circumstance, they were trapped there in this village.
As the girl leaned back against her pillows she stared up at the ceiling and bit her lip in thought. Curiosity rushed through her, almost to the point of becoming a physical itch as she wondered about the bridge. The gates beneath them were not locked to her knowledge nor did anyone actually stand there and guard them to deter people from considering what she was genuinely considering. As she fell asleep one thought was on her mind, I’m going to do it.
The next morning, a Sunday in fact, dawned slowly. It was a bright day, birds chirped merrily and many people sat on their porches with their papers and their morning coffee enjoying their day off. The girl woke, brushed her hair back into a long plait down her back and put on a simple but bright yellow dress. She ate her breakfast as usual then left her home.
Children played in the streets throwing balls and skipping rope like any usual day. They and their parents waved and smiled at her as she continued walking until she reached the bridge. This time it seemed to loom over her rather than just fade into the background as it did usually. As she moved closer she could really see how warn and old the bridge was. The gates, which had always seemed so stern and daunting, now looked rusted and frail as she neared them. After taking a deep breath she closed her eyes, reached out her hands and pushed. With a slight groan the gate opened for her, her eyes widened in surprise as she looked around to make sure no one saw her and stepped through.
There was a tunnel beneath the bridge, it was barren and cold and slightly damp. The stone around her was grey and warn. A few lights flickered overhead, casting everything in a dark yellow shadow. She wandered though for what seemed like minuets before she saw a blinding white light at the end of the tunnel. It grew and grew until she stepped though to the other side.
Everything here was bright, overwhelmingly so. The grass was full and lush, but immaculately cut and the brightest purest green that she had ever seen. Beds of tulips and roses were planted in bright reds, pinks and whites. As she looked up she noticed houses, they were larger than she had ever seen each with a large lawn in front of it where children played with toys she couldn’t name. Their parents sat in beautiful wicker chairs with brightly coloured cushions and read books and sipped cool drinks while they watched their children play. Oddly enough the houses here, looked very similar to one another like the homes in the village but they were so immense in their grandeur that she couldn’t tell one from the other.
On the porch of the home closest to her a woman stood up and waved. She wore a long blue dress with a belt tied fashionably around the middle. Her short blond hair was curled and her lips were painted a bright red. The woman moved closer then opened her mouth to speak, “Welcome to Stepford!” she shouted.