Annie smoothed the blonde hair back from her doll’s face as the wind from her mother’s open window blew around her. Brushing the hair out of her eyes, Annie looked out once again and yet another landmark that she was supposed to care about. Apparently her mother didn’t realize that five year old girls really don’t find sightseeing all that interesting. She much preferred to play with her little doll, Amanda Sue. Amanda Sue had been a gift for her first birthday, and Annie couldn’t remember a day without her. She took great pride in caring for her little doll and being like a mommy to her.
“Look! Annie! Isn’t it amazing! The London Bridge is straight ahead! We’re actually going to drive over the London Bridge!” her mother, Mary, said excitedly.
Annie’s head shot up at this remark. Nothing had peeked her interest to this point, but now every nerve in her body was on edge. Surely she had heard her mother wrong.
“The London Bridge?” asked Annie cautiously. “We’re really going over the London Bridge?”
“Yes, honey! I’m so glad you are finally getting into this. Isn’t it wonderful?” gushed her mother.
Annie suddenly became very silent as she gazed into the face of Amanda Sue and whispered something only the two of them could hear. Her face took on a soft look as she cradled the doll in her arms and began to quietly hum. Her eyes slowly welled up and a tear or two spilled over and trickled down her cheek splashing onto Amanda Sue’s face.
Mary chattered away excitedly all the while not realizing her daughter was no longer interested in what she had to say. Peering into the backseat to see why Annie was so quiet, Mary was shocked to see her daughter’s pale face, wet cheeks, and quivering chin.
“Annie! Whatever is the matter?” questioned Mary. “Are you all right? Do you feel ok?”
Annie couldn’t hold back her emotions any longer. The tears gushed out as she clutched Amanda Sue to her chest. She began to rock back and forth as if she were sitting in a rocking chair while Mary looked on in confusion.
“Ted…pull over up ahead….in that parking spot before the bridge. Yes, I need to find out what is going on with Annie,” instructed Mary.
Once the car was safely pulled out of the traffic, Mary was able to give her full attention to her daughter. “Please, Annie, you have to tell me what’s wrong.”
“The London Bridge,” began Annie. “Is it really…I mean will it…could it...” stammered the little girl. “Is it going to fall down?” she finally blurted out with no further restraint.
Mary sat back stunned. Whatever would make her daughter think the London Bridge would fall down. As these thoughts passed through her head, the familiar nursery rhyme sprang into her mind. Of course, “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down” would make any believing child fear crossing the bridge.
In a calm and patient voice, Mary began to explain the origin of the poem. “This bridge is not going to fall down, honey! This is a new bridge really. It was built in 1972 which makes it only as old as Mommy and that’s not very old at all in bridge years!”
“Why do they sing about it falling down then, Mommy?” asked Annie as she began to relax a bit.
“The London Bridge has a very long history which basically means a bridge has been in this spot since way, way back in time! However, there have been many bridges here. After a bridge has been around a few hundred years, it begins to show signs that it needs to be replaced and that is what happened. This is bridge number four, I believe, and like I said, this one is practically a baby it’s so new! So don’t worry honey, it’s not going to fall down at all!”
Annie leaned back in her seat and breathed a sigh of relief. As her dad began to ease out into traffic, Annie looked down at Amanda Sue, wiped off the tears that had fallen onto her, and gave her a reassuring smile. Leaning forward in the seat, she put Amanda Sue up to the window so that they could both take in the view from the very strong, very resilient, and very young London Bridge.
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