Story by Debbie Stanton

The Rope Bridge

Debbie Stanton | Stories

THE ROPE BRIDGE

by

Debbie Stanton

Jake sat on the riverbank, happy that finally he’d been able to complete his shift at his mom’s

colorful housedresses

photo by Finn H. on Unsplash

dress shop. All the handmade bright, floral dresses were lovely, and her work was impeccable. Jake had a lowly job sweeping and other janitorial duties. He’d graduated from university and could have made something of himself in a big city, but he was loyal to his mom. He could tell just by looking at her that being a widow was difficult, and she needed to work all the harder.

Man sitting on a rock overlooking a body of water
photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

The wind blew softly through Jake’s hair, and it kept high humidity away from him. He loved this spot on the river, and he’d gladly endure shirt-soaking humidity in the air if necessary. When Jake found this place as a younger boy, he felt free. Free from having to worry that his family would go hungry and free from guilt that somehow he’d caused his father’s accident.

Jake’s sister Suki had come with Jake to the river today, but she walked farther on so she could finally walk over the rope bridge. Just yesterday, Suki gave up her crutches. Her skiing accident last winter made all the surgeries necessary, and the crutches had been the final step toward healing. Now that even those were gone, she could finally walk the bridge again.

Suki loved the rope bridge overlooking murky waters as much as Jake loved watching the river flow toward their village.

girl walking on a rope bridge over a river
photo by Jasmin Ne on Unsplash

Today, Suki did not feel the peace she usually felt on the bridge. She walked across at a snail’s pace and wondered if she’d somehow fall into the river. It wasn’t like her to think in a negative manner. When the wind picked up, the rope bridge swayed. Suki grasped at a side rope with both hands, which made her fall. Fortunately, she didn’t end up in the river but in a heap more than halfway across.

A half hour elapsed, and Jake’s heart signaled him that something was wrong. From much experience, Jake knew his twin was in trouble. Being a twin was like having your own language, a sort of shorthand which told you how your twin was. If she was happy, Jake could feel it, even if not in the same room. If she was in danger, Jake could always tell.

Now Jake felt his twin’s cry for help more than he heard it. He took off running downstream, glad his legs were strong and had won him many racing awards.

Jake found Suki in a fetal position, shaking like a leaf. He called out to her, but she didn’t seem to notice he was there. With confident strides, Jake quickly caught up to Suki. He murmured his love and comfort to his silent twin. Once he straightened out her limbs, he carefully raised her to her feet and put his arm around her.

They moved toward shore very slowly and finally collapsed together onto the wildflowers and grass. By now, their hearts raced. Long, scary moments gave way to calm. Suki found her voice again and talked to Jake.

“Jakey, thank you for saving me. You have such value as a person–do you realize that?”

Jake shook his head. “Suki, because I helped you on the bridge you think I have value? C’mon, it wasn’t a big heroic effort or anything. Besides, I love you too much to leave you lying on the bridge.”

Suki’s eyes filled with tears. “No, brother, you are wrong. You’ve taken care of me and mom since Dad died, and frankly, you helped us to stay in our own home. You’ve kept us safe. To me, that means you’re valuable.”

“And I value you because you give me something to live for,” Jake said. “I think our little family is blessed because we have each other.”

Then the light dawned in Jake’s mind. It didn’t matter if he was a corporate professional in a suit or a man who swept floors. Because of his family, Jake was loved, and love conquered all.

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