Prey

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A Bridge Too Far

Spying a clump of small white flowers pushing through the pine needles that covered the ground, I knelt down and gently brushed the sharp smelling needles aside to set the flowers free.

Picking a few I placed them between my palms and rubbed my hands together, releasing the sweet, spicy smell of the flower.

"Here," I said, holding up my cupped hands to Aric, "smell."

Looking dubious, he leaned over and sniffed.

"Spicy," he said, standing back up.

"It's phlox," I told him, smelling my hands again. "My dad had a book about wildflowers once. I think I read it about twenty times before he traded it."

Wiping my hands on my knees, I stood up and looked around some more.

Not seeing anything of interest I looked at Aric, seeking permission to wander further.

Seeing him nod his assent I walked down a steep hill following the sound of water. Stepping out of the trees I found myself on a badly deteriorated road.

Spying the river I ran across the crumbling asphalt loving the sound of the water as it rushed over rocks and fallen trees.

Reaching the tall grass on the other side I looked down at the rushing water.

It looks so beautiful, it's surface forming swirls and eddies as it ran over the bed below its surface.

Looking downstream I saw a bridge I'd never seen before.

Without thinking, I ran towards it, not thinking to ask Aric if it was okay.

In truth I had forgotten that it was only by his good graces that I was even out here.

Reaching the edge it, I barely scanned its cracked surface before rushing onto it, wanting to reach the middle and look down at the heart of the water below. I was so excited, that I didn't hear Aric calling for me to stop,

Halfway there I stumbled, suddenly realizing that some of the planks behind me had crumbled.

Looking up I saw Aric standing at the edge, concern on his face.

"Liberty," he said, his voice stern, "I want you to carefully make your way back to me."

Sensing the danger I had put myself in, I did as he said.

One step at a time I made my way back towards him, my sweaty hands sliding on the rails as I moved.

Hearing a series of terrifying cracks and the sounds of splashing as things hit the water below I knew I was in trouble.

The bridge behind me was crumbling into the rushing water below, and I was going to fall down with it.

With a burst of adrenaline I ran two steps and jumped towards Aric, praying he would be able to catch me.

I felt rather than saw his hands close on my wrist as he hauled me back onto firm ground.

I found myself wrapped tightly in his arms, his breathing as ragged as my own.

"Are you hurt?" he panted, his embrace not loosening.

"No," I breathed into his chest, snaking my arms around him.

We stood like that, everything forgotten except our shared relief that I wasn't at the bottom of the river buried in crumbled concrete, wood and steel.

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