A Bridge for Bridger

The over sized bridge plaque read:

Anders A. Bridger died rescuing three people after their boat capsized. As the only person close enough to attempt a rescue, the ten year fire fighter, military veteran and father of two young girls, dived into the river after witnessing the event. Accidental in its cause, he risked his life to save two teenage girls and one boy, Anders A Bridger did what came natural to him, helping the helpless. After diving into the river, he swam with the flow seizing and dragging to shore one victim after another. This bridge has been erected in the memory of Anders A. Bridger for his heroic efforts at the cost of his own life. The family of Mr. Bridger, his country, state, and community has suffered a great loss.
God Bless Anders A. Bridger, a brother forever.”

Sally Marie paused watching the fingers of fog slowly rise off the river. Glancing to the east, she noticed the full moon was already prominent in its display of early night.

For the hundredth time, Sally remembered how much Anders loved watching fog and clouds pass before the moon. A minor thing and a silly one at that, she smiled a lonely smile. Hesitating before she returned to her chore, a tear of lost slow slipped down her cheeks along the age lines of her face. Reluctantly she returned to her duties.

She knew it was odd for her to be seen sweeping the walkway along the bridge. But, this was her bridge; hers and Anders. No matter the years since the accident, he was still their dedicated to her and his bridge. She knew it was not her job to clear the bridge of paper and debris, but tonight she felt him calling her.
Always hopeful and refusing to believe he had been swept away, she waited. Defying any memories of the horrible day of Anders death, she went about her days and life as a wife waiting for the return of her husband from far away places. Her mind knew he would not return; her heart chose to believe otherwise.

The steadily thickening fog performed its natural function of concealment and illusion as Sally Marie slowly made her way along the bridge walkway. With broom handle firmly gripped by fingers once long, firm and strong, now struggled to drive the debris to the rail and out to the water. Occasionally a glance would be made to insure the trash had truly been dispatched.

Nearing the center of the bridge, Sally Marie stopped to rest and take in the night air. Because she had ignored the fog since the beginning of her task, she’d not noticed its thickening. To her surprise she could clearly see only a few feet ahead.

Leaning herself and straw broom against the hand rail, she rested and look toward the far side of the bridge up river. Fog moved like ripples of water on a pond drawing her mind away from her task and into happier times past. She again could see events and occasions long since past, now only existing as a memory.

For a few minutes she allowed herself the comfort and isolation of the fog, the one thing she’d learned to love as much as her Anders had. He’d told her many times how the fog was like a movie screen God gave man to make any pictures we wanted because the real world was blocked out. That was what she did now.

Pick-nicks by the river with her husband and children, all laughing and playing games or fishing played on her foggy natural screen. Dances with her Anders, close and intimate, held firmly by lovingly arms and admired beyond description, embraced and caressed her. Images of long ago danced and played their parts, before fading away. Slowly she returned to the here and now.

Sally Marie hung her head low for a moment as one tear, and then another slipped from her eyes. Yes, it had been long ago, so long ago; another life, and another time. But, her ears heard a sound. A sound she had in her past. Not only a sound, but a musical note, first one note and then another.

Leaning against the hand rail, head bowed, she listened intently. Gradually as if someone was teasing her memory, her heart and her very soul, she began to hear more notes. From afar off it played, but drew nearer all the same.

She listened to the familiar and loved melody as it was played on a piano and let her mind slip into the last dance she’d had with Anders. That was the last time he’d said he would never leave her, so many years ago.

As she listened to the music it gracefully and gradually changed from piano to a whistled melody. On realizing a change had occurred, she looked up. The whistle sounded as if it was coming from just beyond the bridge; from off the water. She refused to consider the implications that someone may be floating the river, this time of night and whistling her favorite tone. And then she heard it. That one note whistled off key by Anders, always at home, and always for her.

Her heart leaped with joy. It was him. The logical part of her mind had not a prayer of functioning, being so totally overruled by her emotions.

She looked left and then right and finally straight ahead. The whistling was coming from right across the bridge, in the fog and coming toward her. Holding her breath, she listened. It had to be Anders; he had to be letting her know he was near and coming home. Her heart leaped again with joy. Then she saw the form.

From the middle of the bridge Sally Marie watched the tall man with the athletic build slowly walking toward her. She blinked her tearing eyes over and over again. Suddenly, he was right in front of her.

Standing on the street the man looked into her eyes, smiled and finally spoke.

“I thank you for taking such good care of my bridge. But now, may I have this dance with my wife.”

Sally Marie slipped into his warm and loving embrace as he lifted her off the sidewalk and placed her feet in front of his and they danced the night away.

The fog on Bridger’s Bridge did not begin to lift until just before ten o’clock in the morning. At six am the first commuters crossing the bridge found Sallie Marie lying on the side walk. A half dozen people had passed without giving her a second glance until a young woman on her way to her bus stop noticed the smile on Sallie’s face. On closer inspection, and an attempt to wake her, was when it was discovered Sallie would forever be asleep and dancing on Bridger’s Bridger.