"Right here,” said Kim. "Right here is where everything happened."
Kim and Tara stood on top of the bridge that had separated them since childhood and well into their teen years. Looking over the wide river below, Kim noted how often the water seemed to match her mood; like a compassionate friend. Today was windy, the sky threatening. The turbulent waters seemed conflicted between anger and sadness, much like she had been since her father's death three years ago. She felt the heaviness in her chest as she fought the tears back. "It seems like just yesterday."
“That was a terrible day. I still remember the sound...screeching tires, metal on metal.” Tara closed her eyes. “It was awful. I thought for sure that truck was going to break through the bridge and was going to fall right into the water in front of us with all the noise it made.”
They shared a knowing glance.
“We hid in the forest below for hours since we weren't supposed to be there in the first place.” Tara said.
Kim laughed. “We hugged each other that whole time just crying from being so scared. Yeah, I remember. Only we didn't know then...” her voice trailed off and she swallowed hard.
Tara wrapped an arm around Kim's shoulder. “It's probably a good thing we didn't. We were traumatized enough without being able to see your dad's car under that semi.” As soon as she said it she thought better of it. “I just mean that, had we recognized it, well...I think it was best we didn't see. Did they ever figure out exactly what happened?”
“No, far as they could tell it looked like my dad fell asleep at the wheel.” Kim shook her head. “He was less than a mile from home. A mile.” She scoffed. “He was just getting home from a business trip. He had been gone for two weeks. We actually were going to have a welcome home party but he wasn't due home until the next day. I think he wanted to surprise us.” She smiled. “That would have been just like him.”
Neither of them said anything for several minutes. Finally Tara broke the silence. “It's time to move on now. We are going to college, starting new lives. You can finally move to the other side of this bridge.”
She took a deep breath. "Yeah, I know. I just don't know how I can leave this place. There are so many memories, most of the good ones here on this bridge even." She paused. "You know, my first lemonade stand was at the bottom right off the sidewalk; and remember riding bikes over it? We would get a rush when we crossed and we'd scream when we looked down below. This bridge was my connection to life since hardly anyone else lives on the same side as me. We always had to cross the bridge to do anything. Go to the store, church, come to your house," she gestured at her friend. "Then I started driving. When I came home for the night I would park the car facing the bridge so I could make my break for the other side without having to turn the car around." She laughed.
Tara smiled, "Yeah, we had some great times in this little Podunk town. But hey, we'll be back you know. Its not like we are leaving for good."
"Oh come on. You know we won't be moving back here. We are going off to college, we are going to get big fancy jobs in the city. This will just be left to visits and memories...nothing more." Leaning on the bridge she looked off in the distance, her past playing before her like an old movie.
“Well, I guess we better hit it.” Kim said.
“Let's do this!” Tara said energetically.
The girls walked smiling arm-in-arm to the end of the bridge. On the side of the road waiting for them was Kim's old slug bug with a “College Bound” sign in the back window and cans tagging along behind. The girls took a last look around and got in the car. They knew they were leaving behind their childhood bridge, the bridge of yesterday, but they were headed toward another. There would be many bridges in their lives; it was only the beginning.
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