KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Prose Poem: 393 words


by Amy Penne

Gephyrophobia did her in. From the Greek for bridge, gephura, the word transcribes fear of crossing and collapse, entrapment, the thin space on the shoulderless path over waning water. Geo/graphical boundaries, like paranoia, strike deep.

Turns out, some gephyrophobes access regional accommodation. The Maryland Transportation Authority pays workers to transport gephyrophobes across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. In Michigan, hundreds annually require accommodation from the Mackinac Bridge Authority. Travelers taxied between Michigan’s humpbacked peninsulas, where the camping sprays thick.

No one ferried her across the Mathews Bridge in Jacksonville. Turns out, Florida cares more about guns than gephyrophobes.

Some drivers may require a mild sedative or tranquilizer; some may simply stay home, develop anthropophobia, sip bourbon-laced sweet iced tea, avoid crossing altogether. Best to creep from the mailbox to the bathroom where the bourbon’s kept and the vodka sleeps.

Maybe she was injected with fear-serum by a venomous jellyfish, squished between toes while writing love letters at the beach to that boy her parents hated, despite him being a kid named Skip. Who hates a kid named Skip? She wrote sweet notes to Skip before she wrote love letters to my dad, before deception sat down to tea. If Skip had been my dad, would the me-ness of me still think Diane Keaton’s best performance was in Reds and not in Annie Hall? Watch Keaton’s eyes, that’s all I’m saying. They’re perfect, full of fear and confidence, floating from scene to scene, assuaging courage’s thirst. They handle booze and deception and betrayal, which sat down to tea; they urge us to find our Jack, despite the ice and fiery train.

Could’ve been mellontikósophobia, future-phobia. (I made that one up). If today harbors suffering, she thought, surely next Tuesday will be worse. Best to stock up on Smirnoff’s, Jim Beam, and sweet tea in case, just in case, in a red case, hidden behind guest towels in the bathroom closet.

Charon himself ferried her soaked soul to the fires; that fare ain’t cheap. Judas burned her in a Florida State sweatshirt, incinerated with Seminoles.

Judas, the third or fourth incarnation of idiot, claims he spilled her ashes at Ormond Beach on the grey sands, far away from bridges. Maybe that’s better than pushing up daisies—better to be ingested by toxic jellyfish in the Atlantic than peering off the side of a shoulderless bridge.

Amy Penne
Issue 1, Fall 2014

Ms. Penne is a teacher and writer working amidst the corn and soy of the Central Illinois prairie. An essay about why she hates babies, despite having been one and birthed two, is forthcoming in an anthology published by Creative Nonfiction’s In Fact Books in May 2015.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Quelling Anxiety Across the Chesapeak by Trip Gabriel in The New York Times (26 May 2013)

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