The Bridge to Gratitude

Leah Holbrook Sackett

My little sister sat on the floor at my feet with a jar of strawberry jam and a spoon. I wasn't the greatest of babysitters, but I was waiting for the man on the odd bicycle to ride by. He came nearly every day this time. Awkwardly balancing some monstrosity on the front of his bike. He pedaled without haste, but with purpose. I had become obsessed with this man and his daily routine. I had no routine. We'd moved-in at the beginning of the summer, and still I'd met no one. Where were all the teenagers hiding? But this guy was like ancient, he was about 30 or something. And all he did was ride his bicycle. Today, I resolved to follow him.

There he was. I didn't bother to wipe Ellie clean.  He already outpaced me on his bicycle, and me with a sticky 4 year-old in tow. We wove around two blocks before I realized he was approaching the overpass with the train tracks. He had stopped. Out of breath, with Ellie on my hip and her sweet mucky fingers in my hair, I heard the rail road crossing alarm sound and watched the man cross under the closing gate. He turned to look at me, no at his bike. He had a big smile on his face, and there was something different about him. I worried  he was going to step too close to the tracks. Then I turned to look at the contraption mounted on the handlebars. It was a full scale model of the train tracks, the trestle, the crossing arm, the over pass, the highway beneath our feet, and all the street signs. All of it was to scale. It was a perfect replica of where we were standing minus us. I glanced back at the man; he was rocking back and forth to the sound of the train's clack-like-music. And so was Ellie. She'd slipped away from me. She was spinning round and round, teetering closer to the train that roared by indifferent to the peril of these two innocents. I froze watching the gleam of the sunlight glancing off her spoon she still held, and I just knew this would be the last moment of my life. This reflective spoon would be the inane, unforgettable detail of Ellie's death. Then he snatched her back from the train and carried her to me. "This is not a place for her." And he returned to his space of dancing. I held Ellie in my arms and cried till my face was as wet and tacky as hers. I clung to her. I yelled thank you to him. But he didn't look back. He just kept dancing. Clutching Ellie, I turned towards home.  

Leah Holbrook Sackett,

is an adjunct lecturer in the English department at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. This is also where she earned her M.F.A. She has published short stories in journals such as: Halfway Down the Stairs, The Writing Disorder, and Crack the Spine. Leah is an avid collector of Lewis Carroll literature and memorabilia, and she is a member of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. Finally, Leah is from St. Louis, MO where she lives with her husband, Jonathan, and her daughter, Isabella.

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