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The Bridge This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The bridge was her fascination, that long connection of steel and cement, allowing cars to travel across the dark blue river with the surface that changed with the whims of the sky. The great arches—six, her favorite number—lining either side of the bridge. It was such a marvelous thing, crafted by the hands of men in the past, anchored in the mysterious river, used every day.
Did anyone ever think about this bridge? she would wonder at times, when in the car or taking those solitude walks that grew more frequent as she grew up. Did they look into the water with the sprinkling of flashing lights thrown down from the sun, did they wonder what it would be like to leap into the air and soar way up high? As a little girl, these dream danced in her head from noon till night, and her pictures, drawn with pencil and crayon and slapped onto the walls of her bedroom with tape, were the images she could not bear to forget with the passing days.
Soon it was not only cars; people and bikers, too, used its length to enter the city. So many people, she would think. Amazing, really, how things as such went unnoticed; did people not care anymore? The labors of their great-great-grandfathers, the efforts, the triumphs . . . oh, and that was where she would stop herself, shake her head, and gaze out at the water and sky, the tall steel monsters that towered over the tiny people crawling in the streets.
Time passed and her fascination went from obsessed curiosity to something else, something she could not name. At that confusing time called adolescence, when she was in the peak of it like a rose in full bloom, she did not long for a driver’s license, to sit behind the wheel and do as her mother always did. Walking prolonged the time on the bridge; she didn’t want to relinquish that. So she would walk, on those hot summer days when the triple arches on both sides gleamed blindingly bright, or on those autumn days with the chill in the air, bringing the message on a whisper that winter was coming.
One day the girl paused on the bridge, moving to the railing of safety, as she always thought of it. She gripped it, her palms warm with its heat, and leaned over slightly, staring into the navy water. Ducks skimmed the surface, paddling leisurely. Her hair fell around her face, but her attention was elsewhere for her to impatiently brush it back.
Her memory was cloudy of those days as a child, when the world was infinite and everything was possible, but she knew habit guided her here, or perhaps this—this love. That’s it, she thought. I’m in love with a bridge, and I haven’t had a boyfriend yet. A wry smile pulled at her lips.
But there was no shame. It seemed rare for something like this to standout so much to her and remain untainted from the dark stains of the past. She could remember the frenzied drive to the hospital across the bridge when she and mother received news that her father had a heart attack, and the sorrowful trip back much later, when the water was as black as the sky, a perfect mirror for the buildings.
The girl pushed herself up, arm muscles burning with effort as she balanced her weight on the railing. In her mind, she imagined herself strong and with magnificent white wings, unfolding them in a rush of feathers, jumping forward and sailing away. Those days of dreaming still plagued her, but she liked the unchained limitless of creativity. Anything’s possible.
Lips parted in a broadening smile, she tipped her head back, staring up at the endless bright blue sky. She could fall into its depths as a child, and realized that, despite the responsibilities and obligations cast on her with the passing years, childhood remained with this bridge, a link to pleasant memories and the great unknown mystery of the future.





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