Over the Bridge of Light
Esmeralda sat with her mother at rough wooden table in a wood and white plaster house with a thatched roof and a hard dirt floor.
“What happens to the people who cross over the bridge when it turns to light.”
Random knew she was speaking of a crystal bridge over a small singing creek that flowed down from the hills out of the jungle.
“No se, mi carita,” her mother answered, “Nadia sabe. The old ones say that they wander lost in la tierra de los suenos like spirits. Nadia regressa para decirlo.”
Random came awake in the dark familiar room of their apartment, remembering a morning 6 months before. Essie was sitting at the table in the kitchen area in their apartment framed by the blue sky window.
“I was rolling a silver pelota en la tierra next to a small stream een the jungle cerca de un Puente de crystal. Then I heard mi Abuelita wheespering as the breedge started to glow.” When she mentioned her grandmother, her eyes grew round and serious, glistening. Random had wanted to rush across the room and hold her, but he had also wanted to hear the rest of the story. He took another sip of coffee, and gazed at her from where he leaned casually on the kitchen counter.
“When I turned my head to hear, mi pelota rolled onto the breedge,” Essie continued. Her body moving as if she was in the dream. “I jumped for the ball and all around me was arco iris y luz como las estrellas.”
Random had found her in the morning curled on the floor where she had fallen from the bed in a patch of sun coming through the window. When he touched her shoulder, she had sprung up and said, “Abuelita, I am coming!”
Later she had said, “Mi Abelita is calling me.”
“Is she in Venezuela?” Random asked.
“Oh, no. She died when I was very young, just a bebe. I barely remember her.”
Random had nodded somehow he had understood Essie’s connection with a reality much bigger than his.
As he assimilated the real memory and his bit of dream memory, Random became aware of the dark familiar room. The street light coming in the kitchen window. Sounds of distant sirens echoed. He flopped around rearranging the couch cushions into a more comfortable arrangement, settled, and slipped back into sleep with the memory of Essie’s golden skin surrounded by the pale blue carpet.
That memory blended into a dream. Esmeralda lay on a bed of straw. Her eyes jerked open. She jumped up from her bed. She ran into the main room of the little house and shouted to her mother, “Mama! Abuelita me llamo en mis suenos!”
“Dispacita, mija,” her mother said as she smiled and grabbed Esmeralda gently by her shoulders.
“I dropped my ball, and I went to get it en el Puente y I was swallowed by un arco iris.”
“Que lastima! Te asusto mucho?”
“No mucho. Un poco primero, pero I wanted to stay and find out where I was, but I woke up instead.”
“Stay away from the bridge, Carita, entiendes?” her mother cautioned. “Now come and eat. You will be late for school.”
Then Random stood on a path in the jungle next to a small but lively stream. About 10 yards upstream a transparent bridge shimmered in the sunlight. He heard the musical laughter of young girls rise above the low gurgle splash of the stream. A group of girls raced toward him up the path, a young Esmeralda in front, her body thin and flowing black hair flying behind her like a pennant. As they neared Random and the bridge, he realized they could not see him. The other girls slowed to a stop, and called to Esmeralda, whose face spread in a beaming smile of joy.
“Essie come back. Que piensas! Te paras! Stop!” her friends yelled as she blew by Random in a blur and raced on toward the bridge. The others slowed to a stop next to where Random stood, looks of panic and worry on each face.
As Esmeralda approached the bridge, it’s glow and shimmer increased until it was a white light with rainbows swirling at the edges. Esmeralda leaped and vanished into the brilliance.
Random watched amazed and then he knew he had to reach the bridge before he lost Essie forever. He sprinted with all his strength and leaped into the light as it was beginning to fade.
Time and motion changed. Random fell for what seemed like hours. His sense of continuity was fractured into a thousand infinities. as he fell he adjusted to the endless splits and shifts in the fabric of the world occurring all around him. His world was shattered into pieces that were in constant flux. He observed that he could piece his reality puzzle-like back into an image that made sense more or less, by controlling his thoughts. He had to pull his world back together in order to move in it.
Then he hit the ground. It was over. The bridge, river and jungle where gone.