The Keuka Outlet, between Keuka and Seneca Lakes. Photo by Mark Stash
By Alex Andrasik
Excerpted from Bluff & Vine, Issue One
The squall had passed, the clouds all blown into the east, and the world was pregnant with the after-effects of storm. The young man took the steps down along the bridge gingerly, careful not to slip on the slick treads. Heavy greenery from the slope on his left hung down across the stairway, and a brush of needles painted his shoulder with a wash of rainwater. The sun was warm on his face.

This was one of his favorite times, and he treasured it all the more for its lack of predictability. Some storms left the world in disarray and panting with exertion, while others traipsed through so quickly as to leave no mark at all, in neither mood nor matter. This gentle in-between suited his appreciation for proportionality: cause and effect ought to be perceptible, he thought, but he took solace in soft consequences. Anyway, the brief tempest had raised his spirits with its energy and beauty. More importantly, maybe, it hadn’t blown his plans apart.

At the bottom of the smoothly-molded gray stair, he inched along the footing of the bridge above to skirt a large puddle of unpredictable depth that had formed across its base. Ahead of him, the swollen waters of the outlet stream churned against the grid of the little dam beneath the span, an echo of the storm just passed. To his right, the Outlet Trail passed through a tunnel beneath the bridge and curved out of sight in the lush, merrily bobbing foliage; on his left, it curved more openly, cutting between the grey-green waters and the slope down from Lake Street above. Light sparkled in intermittent pools, shapeless jewels on the paved track.

He took a moment to admire the rough stonework of the bridge, lifting his eyes to follow the span ahead as it passed over the outlet. It carried traffic and commerce above, blocked deadfalls and other debris below. Three years earlier, it had rained long and steady, and all the broken branches from surrounding woods had swept down the slopes and into the rills and streams, clogging many of them; the water had risen and flowed over the streets and into basements, and many homes and businesses were ruined. This dam was one stopgap, an important stent in the natural arteries over which human settlement had so long ago been laid here. Still, that spring, it hadn’t been able to overcome the force and speed with which the water had rebelled.

To read this entire story, please purchase Issue One of Bluff & Vine at Longs’ Cards and Books in Penn Yan, or by visiting amazon.com/Bluff-Vine-Issue-Literary-Review


Bluff & Vine
is accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cover art until September 15, 2021. Details available at http://bluffandvine.com/submissions/

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