Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)
TITLE: Warning Shots
By Linda Germain
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The gentle bovine work to stick their heads through the barbed wire, hoping the grazing really is better over here. It occurs to me that neither animals nor humans seem to understand that old adage: grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
My editor wants something fresh and interesting for Sunday’s human interest column. So far, I have nothing. As I gaze at the clouds, hoping for inspiration, I hear click-click-click. It’s the unmistakable sound of a serious camera.
A man emerges from the overgrowth that leads down to the river’s edge. I’m startled for a second until I see his great smile and realize it’s Ned, from the paper. He sits on a stump and drinks the cool water I offer.
“Wow, Joy…I never expected to see you here.”
I murmur the same sentiment about him before he launches into the details of his photo shoot.
“You know the beautiful old bridge that’s been closed for years since they built the sturdy four-lane concrete one?”
I nod and he races on, excited to enlighten me.
“There are plans to blow it up in a couple of weeks.”
I try to look sufficiently intrigued as he begins a long tutorial of the bridge’s history.
“I mean, the thing is desperately unsafe, but signs and warnings won’t keep folks off of it. Even with its charming past, I’m afraid it has to go.”
My writer’s antennae shoot up as I recognize human interest oozing out of this story. I sling the five W’s and the H at him as fast as he can answer, and then agree to hike back to the bridge with him.
As soon as Ned’s architectural wonder is in sight, his camera goes wild with clicks--like a Geiger counter that’s found the mother lode. He climbs down to get an underneath view of the rusty iron structure. I wait by a big sign that reads, Danger! Enter at your own risk.
“Hey Ned, what do you plan to do with all these pictures?”
He’s very blunt as he looks right into my eyes, not flinching.
“A few are for the paper, but the rest are for me. I’m writing a book to scare the living daylights out of people.”
My face must register a ten on the puzzle-scale, so he continues.
“Would you agree that if we’re born we will eventually die?”
How can I refute that? “Uh…of course.”
“Well, don’t you think we ought to consider there’ll be a bridge to cross and what might be waiting on the other side?”
A cold chill runs through me. “I’m not sure I know what you mean, Ned.”
He explains how this lovely old structure is a bridge to nowhere, except the dark woods, and that the sign posted at the end should remind humans that choosing the wrong way is a deadly risk that will affect us forever.
He wants to show, through photography, the new bridge is an example of a second chance to be safe, but this antique one, though beautiful, is a path to destruction. As sturdy as it pretends to be, it’s too dangerous and can fool people.
I have a lot to think about and realize I truly have no interest in walking any further on a rickety pathway that might not hold me. This Jesus he tells me about has provided a better connection to the other side.
After Ned’s amazing intervention in my life, I write a weekly update on the consequences that result from a group of historical preservationists who manage to keep the city from destroying the bridge. After partying teens fall to their deaths while trying to scale the top of the span in the dark, and after Ned’s bridge-analogy book shakes up the whole community, the city father’s finally realize the foolishness of their original decision and change their collective minds.
Sometimes, these new days, Ned comes with me to sit under the oak tree. I’m learning about wonderful eternal things I used to think were silly, cows still strain to reach the more inviting grass, and I have all the human interest I can handle--thankfully, because of a posted warning sign on an old bridge.
John 11:10 [NLT]
But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”
2 Peter 3:17 [NLT]
[Peter’s Final Words] I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.
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