“Definitive proof that love is forever,” he said.
“I like that.” Hannah took his hand. “Tell me how it proves that.”
“Well, it’s a lock with our names on it.”
“Then you should have put a heart on it as well,” said Hannah.
“A heart? Well… it doesn’t need a heart. It’s got our names, and now it’s locked to a bridge, which symbolises joining. It joins two banks of a river, like the joining between us.”
Hannah crouched. “This one’s got a heart.”
She fingered her way through the padlocks on the railings. “And this one. And, look, this one’s got an arrow through the heart. It’s so cute.”
“They did it wrong,” said Charles. “Simple is good. All it needs is a lock and our names.”
“You should write a poem about it,” said Hannah. “About us.”
Charles frowned. “A poem. Right. Not sure poetry’s really my thing.”
“But you have to,” said Hannah. “Love is all about poetry.”
“It is? I’m not sure…well, first we need to throw the key into the river. That way, our lock will be forever locked to the bridge, and we’ll be symbolically joined.”
“Forever!” Hannah frowned. “But what if there’s another key? I don’t like the idea that someone else could unlock us. And what if someone picks the lock? We could break up because of a hairpin.”
“You can’t pick this lock with a hairpin,” said Charles. “It’s got five pin-tumblers. You need a proper picklock, and who’s going to bother with that just to get a lock off a bridge?”
“So we will be together then.”
“And you will write a poem.”
“Uh…I’m not…well, what we’re doing is a poem, isn’t it,” said Charles. “A practical poem. Five pin-tumblers is like five verses to a poem.”
“Oh, I like that,” said Hannah.
“Yes, I thought you would.”
“But you still have to write the poem. It’s important.”
Charles’s frown returned. “How important?”
“Very,” said Hannah. “Now let’s get off this bridge. It’s starting to rain.”
She tugged his hand.
“Hey, wait a minute,” said Charles.
He put the key in his hand, took her hand and held the key over the railing. They let go and watched the key fall away.
“Isn’t that better than a poem?” asked Charles.
“No,” said Hannah. “I’m happy we did it, but it won’t be finished without a poem.”
Charles said nothing as they walked toward the north bank, hand in hand.
“What’s that man doing?” asked Hannah.
Charles wiped the raindrops off his glasses. He put them back to see a man wearing a high-vis jacket, carrying a pair of bolt-cutters. The man snapped a padlock off the railings and tossed it into a cart that looked like a cross between a dustbin and a wheelbarrow.
“What are you doing?” asked Hannah.
“What’s it look like?” The man’s voice sounded strained as drove the jaws of the bolt cutters through another padlock.
“You can’t do that! These locks are love, and love is forever,” said Hannah. “Charles, say something!”
“I…uh…” said Charles.
The lock fell on to the pavement. The man tossed it into his cart and straightened up.
“Nothing’s forever, love. Now I’ve got a job to do. Haven’t you got your own business to mind?”