It wasn’t that we couldn’t cross the bridge. The bridge decided who could cross it. It wasn’t very consistent on what it took to cross, just that it decided if you will or not.
So there we were, standing at one end of the bridge. We egged each other on armor crossing, that we couldn’t be too chicken to try.
Even though trying meant you’d disappear before making it to the other side.
“Yo, make Inaka cross!” Someone shouted and I froze.
Before I could react, I was pushed to the edge of the bridge. The others blocked the way towards leaving said edge.
I swallowed heavily. My knees knocked and my hands sweat.
Their howls of encouragement or ridicule spat at my back.
I wanted to cry so bad. They didn’t care if I disappeared.
I was just a guinea pig to them.
I took a step forward.
Then another. And another.
Their riotous shrieks were lost among the wind as I approached the middle of the bridge. I barely could breathe.
This is where I could disappear forever or be allowed to continue across.
I couldn’t hold back the tears.
I had a family to return to, a little brother that was waiting for me. I couldn’t break their heart by disappearing.
The bridge swayed and groaned in the winds. The mist that obscured the bottom of the canyon rose.
I choked on a sob, clinging for dear life on the roped railing. I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut.
I felt the briefest of breaths on my tear-stained cheek.
I took a breath. Two breaths.
Then I opened my eyes.
The mist obscured the path back to the others, but the way forward was clear. I didn’t hesitate and ran to the other side with relief.
Once my feet were on solid ground, it didn’t take long for the mist to lift.
The others were impressed that I was still here. Still alive.
In their glee, they all began to run across the bridge.
The mist rose again.
Only my friends, Lio and Sentra, made it through the mist. When the mist disappeared again, the others were gone.
When we returned to our town, they didn’t believe us. That the others were playing a cruel joke on us.
But when the days turned to months, even the adults had to acknowledge the truth the we saw with our own eyes.
The bridge takes and allows as it pleases. We can only hope that it allows more than it takes.