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The Bridge Under the Maple by Kai Labrador

Our first submission comes from Kai Labrador and is a wonderful short story that paints a beautiful depiction of nature. Thank you Kai!


The rickety bridge swings in the wind, it is made of cedar and littered with

the green of maple flowers. There is lush grass and sprawling chickweed on either

of the sides punctuated with scattered clumps of wildflowers and bright maple

sprouts. Standing here with me is a tall old maple covered in moss and newly

sprouted fern. The other side is much the same, yet it cascades down into a hill

blocking my view. The wind is harsh and cold, sprinting over the hills and darting

through the trees like a mad animal, shaking and whipping the bridge, trying

without success to bring it to the harsh rock below. I grab the old post for support

and look out at the bridge, it looks inviting yet daunting at the same time. Behind

me is a lush valley spreading as far as my mind can see. “I should cross,” I think to

myself but yet I feel as though I can’t. It’s a strange feeling, bridges are meant to be

crossed, they are there simply for ease of travel, I pace back and forth keeping the

bridge in my mind, this is a conundrum for sure… but why is it happening in the

first place?

The rickety bridge swings in the wind, it’s made of cedar shining red in the

sun. Above my head, large maple leaves shade me from the scorching rays above.

The moss on the tree looks dry and the ferns are a darker richer color, but slightly

browning on the edges. There is grass and chickweed on either side of this bridge.

Behind me is a valley as lush and cool as it always is. There isn’t much of a breeze

and the day is humid and hot. “I want to cross the bridge,” I think to myself, yet I

know I can’t. There must be a way I know, after all, it is a bridge, and I shouldn’t

depart this mountain only to find another way around. I pace again on the well-

trodden ground wondering if there is a way to the other side. I kick the post in

frustration, knowing full well that nothing will come from it. I sit down on the

blanket of grass and stare across. “What could be on the other side?” I wonder to

myself, “is it even worth the effort of crossing? It must be worth crossing or it

wouldn’t be here,” I finally decide. I quickly stand and am emboldened to approach

the bridge, but I stop myself. It may be dangerous on the other side… after all,

I don't have any idea what’s there.

The rickety bridge swings in the wind, it’s made of cedar and littered with

fiery leaves. Rain drenches the world around me, swirling into puddles of mud, and

flowing down to an unknown destination. Above my head maple leaves of

wondrous colors subtly shield me from the patter of rain. Below my feet, they have

begun to collect and cover scattered patches of grass. water rushes into my boots,

bringing me into an uncomfortable sogginess. The wind is once again busily

rushing about, whipping against my face as if to antagonize me. I lean against the

wet moss of the old maple with only one thing on my mind, the old cedar bridge. I

know I can’t cross, that much is clear, yet I need to cross that damned bridge. It’s

taunting me with its lack of logic, dancing as if it knows what it’s doing. I pace and

pace knowing it will never help. Nothing here sparks my imagination. Nothing

here can spark a will to cross. I sit in the mud letting the cold chill me. Maybe it

will focus me, but as I sit it just makes me want to leave. It doesn’t make sense to

leave, but it somehow doesn’t make sense to cross, so I stay here in my own

personal limbo, a liminal space of vacillation.

The rickety bridge swings in the wind, it’s made of cedar but coated with

snow. The world around me is white and baron. Frost crawls dangerously up the

last strangling beacons of life. As I look back the now-familiar valley is covered in

a blanket of snow punctuated by the everlasting green of our cedars, firs, and

hemlocks. Next to me, the maple is baron and cold, it is vaguely covered in snow

and has only a few leaves left to its name. The moss and ferns punctuate the snow

with feeble effort slowly dying off or fighting with chilling desperation. The wind

tiredly tries to push the bridge and shake off its newfound blanket. My face and

hands feel nearly as numb as my mind. I stand leaning on the well-worn post,

looking out at the stormy grey sky, the clouds swirl and spread as if weaving an

intricate lattice. I’ve gone through most scenarios at this point, there is no way

across, it is hopeless, I think of the bridge, my sole obsession for a time. Why is

this thing even here if it wasn’t meant to be crossed? I’m surely not the first

traveler to come across this conundrum, maybe even the person who put up this

bridge came across the same thing, yet he continued on and plagued the world. “I

can’t get across,” I think to myself, “But I might as well try.” I wearily stand and

slowly approach the old bridge. I stand on the threshold for a long time, and then

all at once, I’m standing on the first plank. I walk slowly, going from plank to

plank, the cedar boards creaking under my heavy feet. And all too fast, and with a

distinct lack of fanfare, I am across the rickety bridge, under the maple tree.


My name is Kai Labrador. I am a 15-year-old sophomore who lives in Bellingham, Washington. In my free time, I enjoy creating CG art, writing short stories, as well as practicing and teaching bushcraft. I love writing short stories or flash fiction and have found they are a great way to express personal experiences and emotions.

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