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The other side of the Mirror

Chapter 2: Bridge of Truth

By Hyde Wunderli Published 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 6 min read
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The other side of the Mirror
Photo by Fabien TWB on Unsplash

Bran woke from the comfort of a padded back. First, it was the hair sprouting from Ursus’collar and tickling Bran’s nose that woke him. Then, it was the sound of a low grumble. Ursus breathed as if screws tumbled about in his grungy mouth. Despite being woken up it made Bran laugh a little.

Bran’s eyesight was foggy. Like staring out a car window during a rainstorm. He turned his little fists into his eye sockets to rub the haze away. When the gray cleared he saw rolling hills of green. Across the endless fields, a vast crowd of lavender waved at the travelers sauntering their way through the valley. Beyond the purple carpet of flowers, roaring mountains hid in shadows beyond the warmth of a giving sun. The lush trees that helped guide their way whistled a happy tune. Leaves launched from their branches and greeted the travelers with a hop and a skip in the wind. The breeze that urged the travelers forward kissed their cheeks like a mother sees her child off to school. Bran wondered if the lands would still be inviting if he were traveling alone. But it didn’t matter because he wasn’t. And that suddenly made him grateful.

“He wakes,” Corvus says with the snap of his fingers. “Just in time to see the bridge.”

“A bridge?” Bran asked.

“Just beyond the hill,” Ursus said.

They walked the belly of a green giant with persistent steps. When they reached its highest point, there was no head. Just an endless cliff with more mountain ranges piling atop each other on the other side.

“Where’s the bridge?” Bran asked.

“It’s hiding,” Ursus said with a giggle.

“Why would a bridge need to hide?”

Corvus stopped just before the hill began its way down towards the cliff. Wind disturbed the sleeping feathers on his coat. His eyes which were often hidden were large and intense. Then he spoke with a seriousness Bran hadn’t heard yet.“It doesn’t trust you.”

“Well, that’s okay. I don’t like bridges anyhow,” Bran replied.

A stone slab extended out from the cliffs. The sound reminded Bran of his mother pulling their canoe on a gravel road near Grandpa's house. Except this time, there was a resounding echo that woke the snoring mountains. The stone only grew a third of the way toward the other side and then stopped.

“That’s a start,” Corvus said.

“Are we going on that?” Bran asked.

“It’s warming up to you,” Ursus said. He picked up a rock larger than Bran’s head and rolled it like a bowling ball. It went down the slope and then soared off the cliff.

Bran hid his face in the fat of Ursus’ neck. “I don’t like bridges, I don't like bridges. I don’t like bridges.”

“Sorry boy, the same truth won’t work twice,” Ursus said.

“Well done, you big dumb sloth,” Corvus slapped Ursus across the shoulder. He’d hit his face if he could reach.

“What I do?”

“Put me down please,” Said Bran

Ursus bent down. Bran stepped off his back and sat in the grass. He folded his arms and then proclaimed once again, “I don’t like bridges.”

Corvus sat next to him. “Truth is, you cross them every day.”

“I do not.”

“The challenges you face are covered by bridges.”

“Can’t you fly us a cross?” Bran asked.

“Don’t be silly, boy.”

“You just gotta be truthful and wallah! The bridge,” Ursus said.

“But I'm scared of heights.”

The earth beneath them shifted. The stone extended.

“That’s it! Tell another.” Ursus pulled a turkey leg from his pocket and took a large bite.

“No, I can’t do it!” Bran shouted.

“You can. You just need to trust yourself. Ursus will carry you across.”

“I’ll what?”

“He does make me feel safe,” Bran said. He bowed timidly and ran his fingers through the grass.

The stone moved again. The walkway was looking more like a bridge now. Halfway to go to the other side.

Ursus blushed. You could see it in his wrinkling nose and bashful eyes. “Well, if it makes you feel safer.”

“I’m scared of a lot of things.”

“I think the bridge wants you to be a bit more specific little bean.” Bran’s shoulder disappeared with Ursus’ paw-like hand covering it.

“What does death look like?”

“It depends on how you’re looking. Death is many things. It is sad, yes. But it can also be beautiful,” Corvus said.

“Death, beautiful?”

“Tell me, what’s your grandpa like?”

Bran stretched a smile across his face farther than the Nile River. “He’s my best friend.” Then he was sad again. “Was my best friend. Not sure what he’s like now, I’m afraid.”

“What happened?” Ursus asked.

“Ma. She was angry with him. I didn’t like the fighting.”

The bridge moved further.

“What were they fighting about?” The more invested in the story Ursus got, the faster he shoved food down his cave of a mouth.

“Something about my dad. I didn’t know him. I think he died when I was still in Ma’s stomach. That’s what she says. After the fight, we moved away. I couldn’t see him anymore.” Bran wiped his eyes.

It was silent. The mountains stopped whispering among themselves. Sliding rock stopped tap dancing down the slope. The waving current of lavender froze.

Up this high, the wind controls the music. It must have stopped to listen. Listen, to a boy coming to terms with his unwanted feelings.

Bran looked out at the space just passed the cliff. Corvus spoke but his voice was muffled by silence. “And you didn’t ask your mom what the fight was about, or why you moved away?”

“Huh?” Bran looked at Corvus. He held in his hand a handful of pulled grass.

“The fight. You didn’t ask what it was about?”

“She wouldn’t say.”

“I think you know why you’re scared.”

“Because my Grandpa is dying,” Bran replied.

The bridge didn’t move.

“You need to say it,” said Corvus.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“You do. Think. And say it out loud.”

The flowers waited. The trees nearby leaned into the three of them huddled together on the grass. The wind still listened.

“I’m scared my grandpa’s a bad man.”

•••••••••••••••••••••••••

Thousands of raindrops pelted the metal roof of the car. It’d been two days since Melanie found out the news about her father and the rain hardly seemed to let up.

She was a master multi-task driver. Often helping Bran with his needs in the back seat, eating food in one hand, or dealing with the broken knob on the stereo that liked to crank the volume up with every bump in the road. But this time she kept two hands on the wheel. She drove the speed limit. And she kept the radio off so Bran could sleep.

They were nearing the bridge and the last thing she wanted was a meltdown in the car. But when she looked back, Bran was awake. Staring out the window. Though, he never really was asleep. He was thrown from his mirror and back into the car. His hand pawed the glass, leaving behind grease marks.

When Melanie noticed he was awake her stomach tightened. “We’re about to cross the bridge, Bran.”

She tried to remain calm but her voice was a clogged fog horn. Her apprehension would most likely make Bran more nervous so she hoped he didn’t notice.

When he didn’t reply she cleared her throat and spoke again. “Do you need a minute before we cross?”

Bran drew a stick figure of himself on the window. He held hands with a stick figure bird on one side and a stick figure bear on the other.

He leaned his head back to view his artwork. Without breaking eye contact with the window he said, “It's okay. I’ll be fine.”

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About the Creator

Hyde Wunderli

Enthusiast of dark romanticism or, gothic romance.

Inspired by the works of edger Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King

Here for the dopamine, the passion, and the challenge to push my comfort zone.

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