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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)

TITLE: Meetin' Him At The Bridge
By Joshua Janoski


“Well…it’s a gone for good it looks like.” Old Farmer Ray said, as he stood at the edge of the gully looking over at the large pile of decayed wood that lay at the bottom. The wood was part of a small bridge that had hung over the now dry ravine. The rotted wood finally gave in and collapsed, leaving nothing left of the structure.

“I miss the bridge mommy,” Little Libby Sue said as she pressed her rag doll next to her face to try to soak up some of her tears.

“I know, Baby. We’re all goin’ to miss it.” Barbara told her daughter as she held her hand tightly. She looked over at her farmer father as he twirled a piece of straw in his mouth, both hands in the pockets of his faded overalls. His expression was emotionless, as he stared down at the broken planks.

The air got quiet for a while as father, daughter, and grandchild all stood silently in mourning. Finally, the silence was interrupted by a young boy running up to the edge of the gully on the opposite side of the chasm.

“What’s the big deal?” young Henry Clemmons shouted. “I was sittin’ in them there trees over there listening to you complain about this here old cruddy bridge. I don’t know what the big deal is. That bridge was so narrow, you practically had to walk single file over it. You couldn’t even fit yer’ tractor through it, and besides, the water is dried up in this here gully anyways. I could jump down in there and climb my way up the other side.”

Barbara looked at her father in hopes that he would not scold the boy. He was new to the town, and he was speaking out of ignorance. You see, no one knows exactly when the bridge had been built, or who had built it. All they knew was that Litton County had a very small, narrow bridge stretching across a small strip of water that ran through the forests and countryside. Many of the townsfolk would speculate as to the origins of the bridge, but no one actually knew how it ended up there or why. Henry Clemmons was right in questioning the usefulness of the bridge. After all, it didn’t seem to serve any practical purpose. However, it was the memories found at the bridge that made it special…

I remember that day six years ago, Barbara thought to herself. Flashbacks came to her of the day that she married Charlie Wilkes. The bridge served as a special centerpiece for a unique wedding ceremony. Pastor Barnes stood in waders inside the ditch. With Bible in hand, he performed the ceremony, shouting out to both Charlie and Barbara.

“Do you Charlie Nathan Wilkes take Barbara May Jones to be yer’ wife?”

“I DO!” shouted Charlie.

And do you Barbara May Jones take Charlie Nathan Wilkes to be yer’ husband?”

“I MOST DEFINITELY DO!” Barbara exclaimed.

The pastor pronounced them man and wife, and they both ran through the narrow opening and across the rickety planks to meet each other in a warm embrace at the center of the crossing. It was the happiest day of her life, taken away just four short years later when Charlie was killed during the war.
Barbara looked down at Libby Sue and smiled. She is my piece of Charlie that I will always cherish, she thought to herself as she looked over at her father. He too had tears in his eyes, as he pondered his fondest memory of the old bridge.

“I remember bein’ drunk one night and stumblin’ onto this bridge” he told Barbara. “Your mother was pregnant with you. I had given her a big purple shiner on her left eye. She threw me out the door and told me not to come back until I got some help. I made my way to this bridge and fell face down onto it. Jesus walked onto this bridge and picked my head up. I looked into his eyes, and he told me that I best take care of my wife and my little girl…We didn’t even know we were having a girl.”

The two shared a warm embrace with little Libby Sue sandwiching herself in the middle.

“The old bridge may have crumbled, but the bridge to my heart that Jesus built still stands…and it will never collapse.”

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This article has been read 774 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lyn Churchyard08/07/08
oh I do like this! So many memories of what the bridge meant to people. Dialogue was great and the characters real. I loved the final sentence! Wonderful job, well done.
Shirley McClay 08/08/08
I like this too! Very sweet and poignant. I was sad the bridge was gone right along with them.
Patricia Turner08/09/08
What a well told, if bitter- sweet story. I like the last line the best. Nice job.
Leah Nichols 08/09/08
I think the story had a great premise and had great points to make. One thing that might make it more powerful is leaving out the boy's comments or even the boy himself - just focusing on the family's thoughts about the bridge. The word restriction doesn't leave you much room to share the "meat" of your story - cut out anything that's extraneous and narrow down to the strong points of the story. Great mix of description with dialogue - neither overpowers the other and your audience is drawn into the story within the opening lines. Good job!
Beth LaBuff 08/09/08
Your bridge really captured my interest too. That was a nice detail, "no one knows exactly when the bridge had been built, or who had built it." I like how your story unfolded with their memories of the bridge.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/09/08
Creative story. I, too, like the memories connected to the little bridge. I can just see a little country wedding like that one! There were a few minor grammar errors, but overall well done.
LauraLee Shaw08/11/08
Your story drew me in, and the different characters kept me entertained throughout. As usual, your creativity and wit shine throughout this piece.
Joy Faire Stewart08/11/08
As with all your writing, I enjoy the details you do so well. One of my favorite is the little girl using the rag doll to dry her tears, perfect touch.
Gerald Shuler 08/11/08
Good entry, Josh. You captured the importance of the bridge very well. What I like is the rotting lumber at the bottom of a dry ravine... the husband left his rotten ways at the bridge with Jesus.
william price08/11/08
Nice little story. It had a gentle, comfortable feel to it. Enjoyed it. God bless.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/11/08
Very nice story with the memories tying it together. You made it quite visual; I could just see the bride and groom meeting in the middle.
Ellen Dodson08/11/08
I enjoy how one character spins off of the other in this. Farmer Ray's recollection is my favorite part of the whole story. They say that once a man hits, he can't stop. Not true. Jesus--especially those divine encounters--can change a man instantly. I do have one small criticism and I'm probably one of the few who feel this way. But, to me the country tone is a bit trite/overdone. The extra title in the name--Farmer Ray--and the middle name--Libby Sue--seems overly "countrified." I'd rather learn from background clues that he's a farmer and just hear him called Dad or Ray. And Libby by itself is beautiful.
Mariane Holbrook 08/11/08
What a great story. You're such a master of details and your writing improves each week! Big time kudos, my friend!!!
Chely Roach08/11/08
Sweet story, Josh. You're a closet romantic, aren't you;)
Well done.
Marlene Austin08/12/08
Great job, Josh. You really showed the closeness of this family with your details. Amazing how a simple object can form such poignant memories for each person and you expressed this well. :)
Loren T. Lowery08/12/08
Joshua, this is such an engaging story and I agree with the post above esp. Leah's comment for developing the story to give it deeper roots. It is rich with your special talent and touches that literaly shout out that there is more to this than meets the eye.
PS, it took me a moment to realize why you liked the hawk's name...Joshua. Of course I should have known.
God bless - Loren
Pamela Kliewer08/12/08
Josh, you amaze me. I too, liked the description of the little girl using her rag doll to soak up her tears... Your attention to detail is absolutely wonderful. While I understand your using the boy to tie into the memories each has, I too, think you could have done just as well without him. This is probably going to sound really nit-picky, but it's something I learned along ago and try to keep in mind. Try to avoid using that when it's not necessary as in this sentence: Flashbacks came to her of the day that she married Charlie Wilkes. It tightens it up just a bit. :) Overall, you had my attention throughout and I love the ending line. Kudos to you!
Helen Dowd08/12/08
Great weaving of details throughout the story, leading up to the climax of the young woman's wedding memories and of the father's conversion. Nicely done...Helen
Pat Guy 08/13/08
I enjoyed how you drew me in with emotion, details and atmosphere, and you had a great ending. Great work Josh! Really great work.
T. F. Chezum08/13/08
Very well written story. I enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing it.
Betty Castleberry08/13/08
Great voice in this piece. I really like the ending, too. Well done.
Joanne Sher 08/14/08
Great descriptions and tone to this. Wonderful stuff, Josh.