Wing-Feather Fables: Crossing


Only the rabbits noticed when the bridge appeared one day, like an afterthought to sunrise. It laid itself across a nothing-much stretch of dried grass and brambles, rabbit dens, and snakes. Even then, the bridge looked like it wanted to mean something, a spindly groove against the sky, lengthened by shadows, and hardly worth the weight of shoes.

Even so, when the mayor finally drove out two days later, a speech in his pocket and the town on his lips, there were already a few pairs of Oxfords lined up neatly at the edge.

By the time the mayor’s granddaughter turned seventeen, the pile of shoes was as high as her waist, a sprawling mishmash that no one but the weather dared to sweep away. Weeds took root in the soles of boots and brogues alike. Green shoots sprouted through the openings of peep-toes and sling-backs. Modern running shoes were closer to the top, along with brown leather loafers and high strappy heels.

But most of the shoes were old and cracked and dusty. Hardly anyone tried to cross anymore. No one had any use for a bridge that came apart halfway past the middle, dissolving into a misty version of itself, pixellated atoms spread across a screen of sky. Some made it farther than others, but everyone walked barefoot back to town, not bothering to reclaim cast-off canvass and leather, reminders of incompletion.

By the time the girl was seventeen, no one had tried in years.

She brought an apple and a pen, because they seemed necessary and right. Her red flip-flops rocked a little, back and forth, on the top of the pile. Beneath her feet, the gray boards felt smooth and warmer than they should have.

She wasn’t unhappy, by current definitions, but she wasn’t sure what happy was and she was tired of floating in middles.

Two deep breaths. A rabbit darted from the shadows and disappeared beneath the arching grasses. Below her, the girl could see a faded hightop. Purple. She had never seen a purple shoe. The moon still hung in the sea-blue sky and she smelled lemongrass and cocoa along a twist of breeze.

Her shadow seemed a year away, down below, along the tangled brambles. Twenty yards to her left, the bridge shifted into mist, like steam from a pot.

She took a step forward. Another. It seemed her shadow stayed behind, unmoving, where she left it. The wood beneath her feet was half-way gone, and then it was gone entirely and she had leapt without realizing it, and there was nothing to hold her up. She kept walking, rabbits in a wild scurry beneath her, pursued by the flick of a fox’s wild tail, the bridge a fading memory and everything after just waiting, waiting to begin wherever she stopped.

Far behind her, two red flip-flops slid from the mountain of shoes and disappeared into sunset. Only the rabbits noticed.

~ Photo by Brenda Gottsabend; Story by Lisa Ahn.

Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here.

19 thoughts on “Wing-Feather Fables: Crossing

  1. Pingback: Wing-Feather Fable: Crossing | How to Feather an Empty Nest

  2. Such a wonderful tale, so beautifully told! Something tells me that there is a book coming out of this fruitful collaboration.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful – from the the beautifully told tale of dreaming and believing. Looking forward to reading more…more…more!!!

  4. I’m with Gina – I can already imagine holding that book in my hands. I can’t wait for the next installment.

  5. Lisa – yea – we did it! The first fable has been released into the world. And I have to admit, the whole book idea sounds pretty darn good 🙂

  6. I love both the tale as well as the photograph! Lisa, you simply amaze me how you can look at a photograph and come up with such vivid descriptions and eloquent ways of saying things! And Brenda’s photographs are incredible as well!

    I also agree with Lee and Gina–there definitely should be a book!

    • It’s amazing how inspiring a collaboration like this can be. I’m looking forward to creating many more Wing-Feather Fables with Brenda.

  7. I agree with everyone – mesmerizing story and gorgeous photograph by Brenda. It really feels like the photograph was the seed for your imagination to take off. Can’t wait to read more.

  8. I’m with the others. I can see the book! I’m ready whenever you are to order lots of copies! 🙂 In the meantime, I’m happy to be mesmerized on-line, here, reading LIsa’s tales of wonder and imagination..and inspired by Brenda’s magical, gorgeous photographs. What a beautiful collaboration. Can’t wait for the next installment.

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