"Bridge"

by Shino Yume

It was old and shakey, not really strong enough for those who passed over it; though it was their more so over their weight. It was a turning point, a place to cross over. A place to walk across and leave all of your troubles on the other side, behind you, in the forgotten past. It was a bridge, and noneother than that, but at the same time, so very much more, but never reckognized as anything. One day it would fall, but not after having lived it's life as a peace-server. It would not die in vain.

They came from two worlds, two complete opposites. They had one thing in common among an endless pit of differences, but that one thing was much greater than the differences all together. No one thought they could ever associate. It was too unnatural, too contrasting. Their paths crossed everyday for years upon years before they ever crossed at the bridge. The one-person-at-at-time bridge.

They stood facing each other, glaring silently for a time before the older girl spoke. "Step back, off of the bridge, let me pass."

The younger girl answered back without wavering, "I will not. It is you who will step back and let _me_ pass."

"I won't."

"I will stand here until you do."

"Then you will stand there a long time."

"Then I suppose you will too."

It was a silly argument, but not one that either was willing to give into. They were both too stubborn.

For a long time they stood in silence, eventually sitting, but whoever'd sat first was forgotten. Some long distance below them water flowed rather quickly.

Finally the older girl spoke again, "What's your name?" she asked.

The younger girl looked at her curiously. "My name is hateful to you."

"I didn't say that."

"My name is hateful to myself."

More silence, neither was willing to step back.

"Don't you have a family to go home to?" The older girl asked.

"No."

"You are awfully young to have no family."

"They're dead."

"All of them?"

"All of them."

"Gomen."

The younger girl began to cry.

"It must be hard." The older girl sighed.

"That's not why I'm crying."

"Why are you crying?"

"I'm sorry."

"What for?"

"For everything."

"What did you do?"

"I was born."

There was a pause before the older girl spoke again, softly, comfortingly.

"You don't need to be sorry for that."

The younger girl sniffed, but stopped crying. "Yes I do."

"Why?" "Because it hurts."

"What does?"

"Being alive. Everything I do is just painful to myself."

There was a long, glassy, painful silence, and still they sat.

"It's pretty isn't it?"

"Hm?" The older girl turned her attention to the younger.

"The water...it keeps flowing on forever...it's so beautiful."

"Yeah." She sighed, looking back down at the water.

"I like poetry." The younger girl told her, wondering why she was telling her anything.

"Me too."

"I'm writing a song." She said. "It's not finished yet."

"Oh."

Still another long, black, silence passed over, before the younger girl spoke again.

"Kodoku."

"What?"

"My name is Kodoku." She stood, stepping back, off of the bridge. "Go past."

The older girl stood, watching the younger girl closely a moment, then crossing the bridge.

"Arigato, Kodoku."

The girl smiled, a first smile in a long, long time of painful nothingness.

"Doitashimashite, Yoriyoi."

The older girl didn't question Kodoku's knowlege of her name. Perhaps she had known it all her life, or perhaps she'd just known. Yoriyoi turned to leave, but then glanced back to see Kodoku leaning on the bridge's railing, singing, a song she'd not yet heard.

"If someone could make me smile, someone across this twisted mile, then I could move on freely, and I could die happy."

"Ja mata, Kodoku!" Yoriyoi called.

The younger girl smiled again. "I almost want to say I love you."

Yoriyoi returned her smile, "Maybe we'll meet again, and we will." Then went her seperate way.

The next morning, the older girl returned to the bridge as she always did, but this time only to find it fallen.

"What happened?" she asked an official who stood near by.

"The bridge collapsed, no one knows why."

"Oh... Was anyone on it at the time?"

"A young girl, it seems. Fell to her death I'm afraid."

No one told her who, but she didn't need to be told, for somewhere inside she knew. It had been Kodoku. It had to have been.

She walked over to the edge, later on that day, peering down at the broken bridge, and waiting for the spirit of the girl she'd barely known. Then she sang, finishing the song.

"And though this life may have been short, it was sadder than one of another sort. I smiled twice in one day, and now I've died happy, and now I've died happy. Ease this pain, I pray I have not died in vain, but now, after so much hate, I have died peaceful and happy."

She never once thought of Kodoku again, until one day when her grandaughter looked up at her, eyes mirrors of the girl's who'd fallen with the bridge.

{The end}