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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: A Better Bridge . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith


Portland, Oregon. Literally awash in bridges. Beautiful.

In constant use and in constant need of repair. Traffic streams on them, Steamboats roll under them. Police helicopters scream over them.

Bridges and roses thrive here. Spring arrives, and the umbrellas are in bloom.
So much rain. So much water. Steel bridges. Green bridges. I dream of bridges.

I am clenching the gear shift of a standard transmission in a tired old orange Volkswagon. Scary - the bridge arches so high! Every time the traffic slows on the upward climb, my battered old VW stalls and starts rolling back to the vehicles cringing behind me. I rev the engine and leap forward, threatening the traffic before me - flying out into the river.

The other dream differs in that I am not vehicullarly challenged. I am crawling up the bridge - fingers demanding holds where there are none. The concrete scrapes me raw. Knees no longer human plead with what rational thought remains to slide back into the confusion behind me. I turn my aching head to see what follows, and am not surprised to view the struggling bodies making my climb for themselves.

Sometimes I just climb up the supports. No thrill to this climb. What awaits? We are lemmings? Army ants? Must climb. Get to the other side. The chicken crosses the road because it wants to. I don't want to cross this bridge but I have to! Oh No! Not the old "cross this bridge when I come to it"! Too trite. Too predictable.

Why such blind effort? What will we find? Who are we trying to please, if anyone? Some climb barefooted on broken glass. What will that accomplish but greater suffering? I feel like we are all thieves and robbers - trying to avoid the Shepherd, climbing over the fence to His sheepfold. Walking doesn't work. Climbing doesn't work. Might as well bungee jump into the Willamette. I'm tired and I want to go home . . .

Home. Just over the bridge. Which bridge? So many choices.

Wait. A new bridge? Odd shape, that. Very long. Very narrow. Walk the plank? Someone is lying on it, arms outstretched. Blocking my way. I can only hold onto the bridge by its sides. So narrow. Scooting like an anesthesized frog - slowly inching forward on my stomach. Worse than a circus high wire. No net.

Someone is up ahead. Blocking me. No - just lying on the bridge. Frightening! No room! Wait - he invites me to climb over him! What? Go around him!

Falling! No! He grabs my arm and pulls me to his chest! I am dizzy and so frightened. Comfortingly, He puts His arms around me and holds me to Him. I feel His heart beating a new rythm into mine. Holding me, He carries me, pleads with me, urges me.

I am no longer frightened. He waits. I stay. He tells me of His Father. He tells me His reason for being on this particular bridge - with His hands and feet scarred beyond recognition. Wonder fills me as I realize that I am not crossing over a bridge, but clambering up a cross.

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This article has been read 674 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/07/08
"Not crossing over a bridge, but clambering over a cross"
Now that's a wonderful line!
Your descriptions of Oregon are beautiful and your message precious.
Anita van der Elst08/08/08
Beautiful, that!
Helen Paynter08/11/08
By use of short, sometimes unfinished, sometimes dsconnected sentences, you've successfully infised a dream-like quality into this piece. GOod work.
I wonder if it might have been more focussed if it had started with the 2nd sentence of paragraph 5?