Tuesday, January 16, 2018


March 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

I would never make it across. I sat paralyzed, fingers gripping the rough wooden planks, closing my eyes as the sea roiled below me. The bridge swayed rhythmically in the wind, icy water splashed against my face, my fingers curled deeper into the wood.

“You can do it, Evie.”

Daddy’s voice floated across the bridge to where I crouched, unable to move. I pried my eyes open, willing them not to look down…not to look….

The water was mere inches from the bridge. It swirled and sucked around the jagged rocks; hypnotic, terrifying, pulling my courage down between the wooden slats into its green depths. My heart stumbled and drowned in the liquid roar as an arm of water curled up and clawed at me. I was going to die. This ocean I loved was going to breathe me into its watery lungs and never exhale.

“You can do it, Evie.”
“No, I can’t, Daddy. I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”

I closed my eyes, and breathed in the briny air. The wood was warm, the boards were solid; but the bridge was as fluid as the frigid water beneath it. Rope from my father’s childhood wrapped the worn wood; bound it together; suspended it between rugged sandstone rocks that speared their way from murky depths to brilliant sunlight. The water growled…

“Daddy, what if I fall?”
“You won’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Trust me.”

The last words were almost lost to me, washed out to sea in waves of hot summer air and fear. My lips and eyes were salty, my hair winding like dark rivers across my damp skin. I opened my eyes and looked straight ahead; looked for something solid, something warm and secure.

“I’m right here, Evie.”
“Come get me, Daddy.”
“I’m right here, Evie.”

He wasn’t standing anymore; was resting back on his haunches, watching and waiting. A slight smile curved his lips, and I realized then that it was I, not he, who needed to move. The swells rose and crashed around him, covering him in foam and spray; but he was as securely grounded on that rock as I was precariously balanced over an ocean of uncertainty.

Slowly, painfully, I un-cramped my fingers; made them scout their way across the weathered wood; made my leaden limbs follow. I fixed my eyes on my father and I crawled. I crawled across those sagging boards, across that swaying bridge, across that reaching ocean. I crawled until the rocks were sharp beneath my fingers; until my father’s hands were on my elbows, pulling me to my feet; until I stood shaking and secure on solid ground.

The photo in the album shows me sitting beside the bridge, smiling; my hand lifted in a carefree wave as water sprays over me in icy plumes. You cannot see what came before: the fear, the scraped knees, the desperate crawl. You cannot see the one who held the camera, who sees me more clearly than I see myself, who urges me still to come to him. What is immortalized instead, for all to see, is an unbreakable bond forged on a broken bridge – the trust between the child who now stands on the rock, and the one who would not let her fall.

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