Seattle Writing Prompts: the Macy's sky bridge

Seattle Writing Prompts are intended to spark ideas for your writing, based on locations and stories of Seattle. Write something inspired by a prompt? Send it to us! We're looking to publish writing sparked by prompts.

A photo posted by Martin McClellan (@hellbox) on

Standing on the northeast corner of Third and Stewart, looking south on Third, one sees a sky bridge. It connects a parking garage to the building that once housed The Bon Marché, one of three powerhouse retailers that bounded out of the wellspring of Seattle in the olden days. The other two being, of course, Frederick & Nelson, and the still-standing, and now heavily politicized in the age of Trump, Nordstrom (which stands, ironically, in Frederick & Nelson's old building).

The Bon — now a Macy's that is downsizing its store by selling floors of office space where once there were mattresses, kitchen goods, fine crystal, and other standard department store fair — stood connected to its parking garage by this one appendage. I can't tell you how many times I've crossed it, on the sixth floor.

We don't have many sky bridges in Seattle (if you're from the Midwest, you may know them as skyways), there's one a few blocks east connecting Nordstrom to Pacific Place Mall; there's a long windowless one that walks across the roof of the King County Administration Building — that diamond faced wonder caught between the jail and the King Country Superior Court — for walking prisoners from their cells to their hearings; there are two in the Market, and up the street, one from the end of Lenora to Alaskan Way; there's the massive bridge that connects the two parts of the Convention Center where it's bisected by Pike, an expanse turned into display area during conventions, where goods are hawked above the bustling streets of the city, much like bridges in olden Europe used to contain apartments and stores.

It turns out we don't have many sky bridges because the city makes property owners pay for them. Macy's, in fact, paid a fee of $31k back in 2010 for this very skybridge, up from the original $300 when it opened in 1960. Or, about the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle.

Seattle politicians aren't very circumspect with their views on the rank inequality of sky bridges:

“What a sky bridge does is it takes people off of the right of way and puts them up in the air, and leaves usually the people who aren’t good enough to go in the buildings down below,” City Council member Jean Godden said. “It’s really not very friendly.”

Surely, given all this, we can find our way around some writing prompts that take place stories above the street?

Today's prompts
  1. The ticket booth on the west side of the bridge had a little window, but when she was working, tucked back in there, she couldn't see down the length of the bridge. But, they gave her a little screen attached to a camera so she could see who was coming. Except, that evening, the camera went dark just seconds before she heard the gunshot.
  2. It was really strange. Never before had Snowy done anything but execute his duties as a seeing eye dog with aplomb. Yet, this morning he wouldn't budge at all. Half way across that damn sky bridge, he sat down and turned into a statue of a dog, resolute and still. What could have made him do that, all of a sudden?
  3. He was terrified of heights. Every step across the bridge always came with a prayer that the big one wouldn't strike while he was on the bridge. Turns out, maybe he was worried for a very good reason....
  4. Maybe it was unromantic. Her friends certainly tried to talk her out of it, but if there was one thing that brought the two of them together, it was their love of sky bridges. And since she'd be the one proposing, she was gonna do it as she damn well pleased.
  5. It was kind of amazing, the sort of thing you'd never expect, the sort of transformation that only happens once in a person's life. But there she was crossing back to her car, and what had happened in the past hour inside the department store had changed her so much, that she barely recognized the woman in her memory who had crossed the other way not even an hour ago.