Black Petals Issue #85, Autumn, 2018

Bridge to Forever
Home
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Bottle Music-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Bridge to Forever-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Door County Getaway-Fiction by Roy Dorman
It's Out There-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Napper's Holler-Chapter 4-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 5-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 6-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
The Gift-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Gifted Ones-Fiction by David Powell
The Seeker-Fiction by Ken Hueler
Blood/Brain Barrier-6 Poems by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.

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Art by Hillary Lyon 2018

Bridge to Forever

 

By A.M. Stickel, BP Editor

 

Changed in the twinkling of an eye, what we shall be has not yet come to light.

 

 

“You have such a pretty face…” are the last words I remember before impact.

Of his side of the bridge I would only ever hear what he said in that last moment, and from my side hold but the memory of the middle of a thought. After beginning the necessary steps toward all the moments we’d saved ourselves for so chastely, they were forever denied us.

Before the burning and wailing that rose and fell there had been a lifetime of possibilities promised by flower-scented, white lace. I screamed as bouquets became incense and maidens and youths went up in smoke. Cherished friends offered on the same sacrificial altar, their names, let alone faces, have been cauterized by shock.

 

I awoke in the shallows near the sandy bank of a stream. No footprints led from the empty road, so I must have rolled free of the wreckage and drifted without drowning. On the road to the future I had been too distracted by the others to notice the passing scenery. Now I was part of it. And, untouched by fire, save for my ruined finery, I was alone for the first time in my life.

Standing up, I dripped and shivered. How cold and swift the waters were! The forest met the edge of the stream, and rising mist obscured the road. Birds sang to one another in the woods. I sensed this was a place apart, untouched by outsiders, yet open to respectful exploration.

My community was isolated “to prevent contamination.” We lived in a highly structured, close-knit society. There were elders we youngsters never saw. Children instructed each other, wove their own garments, and raised their own food (and babies left with them). When old enough to mate, children went to what we called “the bridge”; in our minds we heard the calls and saw the faces of our mates-to-be, and they saw and heard ours.

 

Too hungry and thirsty to be sad and frightened, I bent over and scooped up water, then plucked ripe berries from the bushes at the water’s edge, cramming them into my mouth. All of it tasted much better than what I was used to from the vats. So much for contamination!

A narrow path led from the sandy bank into the woods. I entered the leaf-and-needle-strewn shade that cushioned my every step. Shadows flitted overhead, but the birds had stopped their chatter. I could hear my heart.

Everything smelled fresh and new. Drowsy from my feast, I sighed and plopped down on a rock next to a tree, let my head rest against the soft, fragrant bark, and listened to the creaking of limbs stretching up toward the light. Was that the low rumble of rising sap? I closed my eyes to hear it better…

A breeze with a salty tang woke me. I felt a few drops, and noticed that the road mist had spread to settle on the trees and dull the light. I rose and followed the enticing scent. Sometimes fallen logs or piles of boulders delayed me. Paths diverged from mine into musty, darker depths, but I kept to mine, which offered more and more open spaces full of grass and ferns and colorful flowers. I plucked and ate a few flowers. Sweet!

We used to scare each other with stories of the water no bridge could cross: the sea. This water held those we used to eat, but that could eat us—the fish. We all imagined they looked enough like us to fool us, with anyone led by curiosity to follow one into water forced to fight them, the loser becoming the winner’s meal.

I wasn’t thinking about all that until I rounded a huge gray rock and almost plunged over the edge of the forest into the sea. To one side of me blue water tumbled over a series of rocky shelves to join the green foam splashing against sharp rocks at the very bottom. Shiny silver beings leapt from the sea, heaving their large armless, legless bodies from one rocky ledge pool to the next. The lucky few able to reach the top disappeared into the blue rush spilling from the forest. They were too busy to notice me. Good! I wouldn’t have to fight and risk being eaten.

I decided to climb the tree next to the path, since it had several drooping branches. I wanted to look out across the water to see what might be on the other side. Like many of my friends, I loved to climb just for the joy of stretching my eight limbs. Once I reached the top of the tree, I felt the sturdy, translucent wings of an elder unfold from my back as the last of my wedding silk fell away. Who knew what exciting discoveries lay ahead now that I was no longer isolated from them? It was as if I had found a bridge to forever.

 

Never-ending

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