Bridging the Heavens
Flash flooding is a consistent fixture in this place. So is the bridge,
the ancestors built to remedy the water's thrust, down from the
highlands. When it comes, it isn't a trickle but a roaring wall,
engulfing everything that tries to stand in it's way.
That's how Emilia drowned. It was late spring, too late for any flash
flooding. Too early to really be sure. She went out early at six, to
fetch the cows from the "water meadows".
She didn't come back. Neither did most of the cows.
When at eight she hadn't returned, Isen, the littlest brother, was sent
out to look for her. He came back with mud plastered up to his waist.
And no shoes.
"They're washed down to Igentumf by now", he declared, tears standing in
"And so is Emilia! There's nothing left of her but her shoes!"
"That can't be! I won't believe your words!" declared Mama.
Papa just stood and stared at him for a moment. Then he ran to the shed
for an axe.
"Lead the way," he said. "Show me Emilia's shoes!"
They rushed down with Isen in the lead, running like a scairt cat, with
a bunch of dogs chasing after him. They rushed over the bridge, down
into the water meadow.
It was empty.
Except for the vast swath of bent over grasses, where a lot of water
had rushed over them. There was silty mud everywhere.
Two days later they found Emilia's shoes, stuck halfway up a willow
tree, growing by the river route. They were full of honeybees, building
We later found Emilia's head scarf, that she always wore in the early
mornings out on the misty meadow. It kept back her long, wild, wispy
flyaway hair. Her clothes, her pail, her body were never washed up
anywhere, even though we looked for months.
We children began to hope for a kind of miracle. Perhaps, she had been
stolen by water nymphs in the flood water, we said, amongst ourselves.
Perhaps somewhere, in fairy land, she was still alive! No one could
nay-say this idea, since there was never any real proof of what had
become of her.
I believed that the bridge over the valley, was bewitched somehow, and
it was the bridge that had taken her to some other place, which none of
the rest of us could see. In fact, sometimes, before a storm, when
the thunderclouds gather in the high mountainous fields, and the sun
shines through, over the bridge, just so, I can see doors of light
opening under the bridge.
The next day, when I go to see where they are, they have closed
themselves up again.
There are no openings between the cement pillars anywhere.
What kind of power, can make such a thing appear?
Writing by Regina Stemberger