I originally wrote the Bridge of Memories for a micro fiction challenge. This is an adapted, longer version of it.
I hope you enjoy it.
Bridge of Memories
“I don’t think he’ll pull through this time.”
The nurse’s words reached Joe through a fog. She directed her words to his three children who had gathered around his bed just like they had gathered around another bed such a short time ago.
Joe didn’t intend to pull through. He’d been ready for this since he’d lost the love of his life six weeks ago.
Although, really, he had lost his beloved Esther a few years back when dementia had tightened its hold, squeezing out the person he’d loved. Still, he’d lived for the moments when recognition lit her eyes for brief, bittersweet moments.
He was ready to abandon the mortal toil and join her in the other realm. As dearly as he loved his children and seeing them huddled together by his bedside broke his heart, he hoped they’d understand that he didn’t want to pull through because he was tired. And lonely.
The days without Esther were long and lonely. His every heartbeat reminded him he was still here, and she was not. Every breath he took was a silent prayer to join her.
Theirs was a lifelong love. They first met in the first grade. He fell in love with her when they shared a desk at school. There was never anyone else for him, nor for her.
The voices and faces of his children faded further. Though he knew they could not hear them, he whispered, “Goodbye”.
The whiteness of the room became brighter. It morphed into the sun, sending its love and rays to Joe.
He was no longer in his hospital bed, but walking across a field. All the aches and pains that had plagued him in the recent years had gone. There was a lightness in his step he hadn’t felt in years.
Ahead of him was a bridge. He hadn’t visited it in years, but recognised it without hesitation. For others, it was an ordinary bridge, but for Joe it was a treasure chest of memories.
It was where he’d shown Esther the letter sending him to the front line. He was only seventeen, but they were in desperate times. They held each other and cried as he confessed his fears. She gave him strength, and he gave her a promise that he would return.
It was that promise that had kept him alive through the terrible years at the front line. It had kept him going when he swam past the floating corpses of his comrades, his friends, towards the safety of a small island.
As the water turned red and the bullets never ceased to fly past him, he thought only of Esther and his promise to return.
Somehow he and a handful of other survived, and when the war ended, he came back home.
They reunited on the bridge, their bridge.
Joe returned a broken man. Esther alone saw into the dark depths of his soul. Once again she held him as he spoke of the horrors he had lived through. With kindness and patience, she’d restored him.
It was on the bridge where he proposed to her, and she accepted.
His children, still gathered around his bed in the hospital room were now mere whispers. The bridge glowed brighter than the sun. Joe hastened his step towards it as joy filled him. When his foot touched the wooden planks of the bridge, his every cell sang with joy.
Then Esther was there. Standing in the middle of their bridge, beckoning him. Reaching her, Joe took her hand and together they crossed the bridge.
Back in the hospital room, his children held each other as the last breath died on his lips.
The inspiration for the story, once I had the challenge prompts, came from my grandparents. They were lifelong friends and lovers having met each other in their first year at school.
They passed away in 2015 within six weeks of each other.
Let me know in the comments what you thought of the story.
For more fiction from me, here is a link to my short story The Night Owl’s Warning.
Thank you for being here and reading my short story.
Until next time!
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