I grew up beneath this bridge. It is where I learned to take my first steps and where I said my first words: moon mad. To this day I still haven’t the faintest idea what I was trying to communicate, bu that is beside the point.
I have many fond memories on top of my bridge also; mostly other people’s memories that I was just lucky enough to witness. I’ve witnessed first dates, love confessions and- oh my absolute favourite- so many proposals. Beneath the moonlight, just the two of you, oh it makes my heart giddy! It truly is the most wonderful bridge; everyone who walks along it feels happy. They call it ‘le pond d’amour’: the bridge of love. I only have one memory that is my own, when my parents taught me to fly. I was sixteen when my wings finally started growing- I know, embarrassing, right? I guess I’ve always been a late bloomer- yes, pun very much intended (please, my puns are always intended!). The flower from which I came sprouted two weeks late and thus began my perpetual journey of lateness.
Anyway, back to my first flying lesson- oh man, I was so nervous! My legs were unable to hold me, which I guess wasn’t such a horrible thing, seeing as you don’t need to stand while airborne. My parents had always been overly supportive, saying things like:
“It’s okay if you fail on our first try.”
“That’s what second tries are for, learning what went wrong and starting anew.”
They meant well, but to me it just sounded like they had zero faith in me and were expecting me to fail. I guess it’s always better than having unsupportive parents, I learned that later on in life from a dear friend. Okay, scratch that; it’s a hundred times better than having unsupportive parents- sorry mom and dad!
“The key to flying is just letting go of everything that worries you and feel free, liberated from all that keeps you grounded,” said my mom. I’d had a very fortunate life so I had almost zero worries, except, of course that I would not be able to fly and would fall to my death. That worried me a bit. A very big bit. A bit as big as the universe.
It didn’t happen, I was a natural flyer. I had never been this good at anything; I was always average, at best. But flying, flying came so natural to me that the minute I left the ground it felt as though flying had always been a part of my life.
My parents were so proud of me, and not just proud that ‘I’d given it my best’ or of my ‘good sportsmanship’ but genuinely proud of something I actually accomplished.
This is one of my happiest memories and, sadly, it is also the last I have of my parents. They died that night when some drunk humans crashed their car into them and the tree they were sitting next to, having a romantic evening beneath the stars.
From that moment on, I was an orphan. I missed them greatly, but managed surprisingly well on my own. I knew that they were watching over me and were still every but as proud of me as always, even when I failed.
They were probably most proud of the moment I met my best friend, Eliza Jones- I know I’m most proud of that moment.
It was on a rainy June evening I was seventeen years old and sitting on a tree branch, enjoying the way the warm droplets felt on my, even warmer, dark skin and listening to the music it created beneath my bridge. When I noticed a silhouette on my bridge. It was most unusual to see someone by their lonesome out here; as I mentioned this bridge was notorious as the bridge of love. The way the figure paced up and down the length of the bridge was also rather peculiar.
Then, all of a sudden the figure stopped, mid pace. It slowly crept on top the ridge, as I had done the morning I learned to fly. Maybe another fairy is trying out their wings? I thought to myself. And the figure leapt, just like I had done. But this was no fairy. And what it was doing was no flying. It was falling. And if I did not act that very instant it would fall to its death.
I shot up and launched myself at the falling figure that was now nearing the surface of the shallow river. I had never flown at this speed, my heart was throbbing in my ears, ringing like an alarm. I had to catch the Figure, otherwise I would never be able to forgive myself. Faster and faster I flew as the wind started stinging in my eyes and tears started fogging up my view- I knew there had to be a reason so many fairies wore dorky flying glasses. I was so close, if only I could get my arms around the figure’s bo- and there was contact! Swiftly I stopped our downward motion and diverted it to the side, just in time before certain death.
I lay the human down on the riverbank. I magicked a few fireballs to light the sky and looked down; the human was a girl, about my age. Her face was chubby, which made her look at least three years younger, but her eyes gave her away; they screamed maturity. She had put effort into looking particularly beautiful tonight: her dark hair had been braided into a complicated updo, she had applied makeup to make her most unique features (her dazzling green eyes and high cheekbones) more prominent and she was wearing a gorgeous white, flowing gown.
“I’m Erin,” I blurted out and offered a hand.
“Eliza,” she said as she shook my trembling hand; technically I’m not supposed to talk to humans- but when the most beautiful girl in the world tries to kill herself, you’ve gatta say something.
“So instead of angels the afterlife has fairies,” she said, noticing my wings and flying orbs of fire. “Cool.”
“Oh, ehm… actually… You didn’t die… You… Are still very much alive… I saved you.. Tada!”
She stared at me in disbelief with those amazing, green eyes that take up about half her face, took a deep breath and started crying. She pulled her knees up to her chest and hid her face. I didn’t know what to say; I had never experienced so much pain and misery that I would be willing to end it all, so I just sat there, staring at her. It pained me to see so much hurt in one person.
“Why?!”she suddenly sobbed as her eyes aggressively locked with mine. “Why would you do this? I had finally worked up enough courage to do this. For f*ck’s sake I wrote a note to my god awful parents!”
“I couldn’t just si there and watch someone end it all,” I offered a weak smile.
It was silent, but for the occasional sobs emitted from Eliza.
“Do you like to read Eliza?” I asked after a painfully long silence.
“Yes?” it sounded like a question, but I knew better.
“What do you like to read?
“Fantasy mostly, anything with witches, magic, dragons and…” she looked at me.
“FAIRIES!” I blurted out ecstatically. “You like to read about fairies?” I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear.
“More like love,” she choked out something that sounded faintly like a snort. “I’ve been obsessed with fairies ever since I was little.”
“Cool,” I said and now I was certain I heard a laugh escape her mouth. “I, personally, never really liked those stories, but I guess that’s because of the many inaccuracies, I- “
“Inaccuracies?” she asked.
“Oh yeas. Every book about us is full of them! We’re not tiny, our average height is only slightly smaller than yours! And we don’t have pointy ears-“ I pushed away a black mess of curls so she could view my ears. “And these are just the things about our appearance! There’s so many things you humans assume about us that is just simply untrue!” that triggered a full on giggle. “I mean, if you want I could show you our real nature?”
“I see what you’re doing,” she said, suddenly very sullen.
“You’re pretending to be nice to me so I won’t try to kill myself again…”
“Or, I genuinely want to spend more time with you cause I think we could be great friends. Also, it gets lonely around here by myself.”
“You live by yourself? Why?”
“You see, that’s information I only share with people I’ve known for at least longer than a day.”
“I guess I will have to come back then,” she smiled.
“So what else do you like doing?”
We talked about anything and everything- that is everything except the reason she was there that night. She was a writer, an overachiever in everything she did, she loved taking walks in these woods by herself and one day she would travel the world and write amazing fantasy novels. I was glad there was a plan for the future. Every so often I would force myself not to ask her why she was so sad she would throw away what seemed to be a wonderful life, but I realised that now was not the time.
We watched the sun rise, bringing with it the promise of another start; if second chances. She told me it was time for her to go, but promised shed be back after school.
And just like that I had another fond memory of my bridge.