Kristi stood back and folded her arms with satisfaction. She had completed her portfolio. As she stared at it, she became mesmerized by the memories being stirred…
Dot happily sucked her strawberry milkshake through a straw and watched the scenery go by. Her granddaughter, Kristi, couldn’t help but smile as she glanced her way. The weathered wrinkles of Dot’s face belied the child-like behavior she displayed today. She had anticipated this drive for weeks.
Kristi turned her little VW Bug away from the busy stores and traffic and began to wind around a country road. Abruptly, Dot stopped sucking on the straw and pointed frantically. “Kristi, please stop at that bridge.”
Kristi had promised her grandmother a special road trip. Until that moment, Dot had no idea where they were. The area had experienced considerable growth and the landscape certainly had a different look to it.
As they crossed the low narrow wooden bridge to park, Gramma Dot pressed the button to roll the window down and stuck her head out like a dog. Kristi snickered, “I want to take some photos for my portfolio. Let’s get out.”
Kristi busied herself with her gear as Dot ambled to the bridge and stood cautiously on the edge. Her vision being poor, she leaned slightly forward to peer into the shadows. Kristi began to snap a few shots and smiled behind her camera.
What Gramma Dot did next amazed the young photographer. Kristi pulled the camera away from her face. Dot had hiked up her dress and unfastened her stockings at the garter. She kicked off her shoes and proceeded to remove them.
Kristi hesitated only for a brief moment and then snapped more shots, grinning the whole time. Dot stooped down and deftly sat herself on the edge of the bridge and plunged her feet into the cool water of the swiftly moving stream. Her toothless smile made Kristi’s day.
The older woman turned to her treasured granddaughter and patted the spot next to her. Kristi kicked off her flip-flops and joined her Gramma, dangling their feet like schoolgirls in silent companionship.
“Gramma?” Kristi ventured.
“If this bridge could talk…what would it tell me?”
Dot tilted her head slightly and wore that lopsided grin Kristi loved so much. It usually indicated a story was a-brewin’.
“I always have liked the way you think, Child.” Dot splashed water aimlessly as she contemplated the question.
“My very best friend ever, Mary-Ellen, lived at the next homestead. This little bridge is about halfway between our places. When we were ten years old, we sat on this very spot and became blood sisters. I had a pocket knife and we cut our pinky fingers and smeared our blood together. We made an oath to always be there for each other and never forget our friendship, even in our old age.”
Kristi closed her eyes to visualize her grandmother smearing blood with her lifelong friend.
“At twelve, we carved our names in the belly of the bridge.” Dot leaned precariously over to point to the general area.
Not worried about getting her shorts wet, Kristi slipped into the hip deep water. She nimbly worked her way under the bridge and sought out the little treasure. As she focused her camera, Kristi could hear Dot above her.
As she peered through slits of the bridge, Dot asked, “Did you find it, Child?”
“Sure did,” Kristi stuck her fingers through the slit and played with her Gramma’s fingers.
“If you were to wade on down that way a spell, you would come to our swimming hole.” Dot leaned to the left and pointed down around a bend in the stream.
Kristi headed in that direction. As she reached the bend, she could see where the stream widened. An old rope hung from a branch above the secluded swimming hole.
“See it, Child?” Dot hollered from her perch on the bridge.
“Yes.” Kristi yelled back as she snapped the shutter on her camera.
Dot cupped her mouth to assure she could be heard, “That’s where we skinny dipped.”
Kristi about dropped her camera. Giggles erupted from the pair as Kristi stopped to focus her camera. Dot playfully gave her several silly poses.
“Any other secret surprises?” Kristi asked as she climbed back onto the bridge.
“I had my first kiss here, too. Does that count?”
Dot proceeded to get up and gather her stockings and shoes. “Yep, if this bridge could talk…that’s a good one, Child.”
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