Bridge of Life

by Slave Prince
Every day of my life I have to walk on a dangerous bridge.

It has no handrail on the left side. Its floor is vertical and some pieces are missing. And our feet need to find a strong rope to walk on.

Who cares if underneath the bridge is the face of the rushing brown water?

I guess what makes everyone cross the deadly bridge is to get what they need on the other side: my father needs to deliver his firewood for money, and my mother needs to guide my only little brother to kindergarten.

What do I need? I don’t know. But mama knows what I need: “You Ryan, you need to graduate. This is your last year in high school. Then after that, you can be an architect. Oh, I forgot you still need to go to college. You have so many goals, Ryan. Those goals are the reason you are alive. And my goal is to help you reach your goals.”

Her speech last night was longer than that. Not surprising because it’s my birthday and it’s too dramatic.

The bridge is a half hour from our house, and my school is two hours from the bridge.

Honestly, I don’t care about school. All I know is how to draw and do it well. That’s why every time we have an activity in drawing subject I become the richest poor in the school. Most of my classmates are financially-abled and lazy.

I only have a single idol. Not a celebrity or a famous personality. I also don’t care about them. My idol is my little brother, Troy.

Troy is on the top of their class. He is also good-looking and knows how to sing. Last night, after I blew the old candle on my cake (only bread, no icing), my mother gave me a second-hand biology book (my father bought it but was not there, he only arrives during weekends). Mama shed tears when I gave it to my brother. She thought I was being sweet, but in reality, I was just not interested in it. I was expecting an expensive pencil.

My little idol hugged me. “If I graduated as a valedictorian, I’ll let you steal all my medals. Because mama said you cannot reach the top ten in your class because you don’t want to. But I know you’ll going to be richer than me when we grow up.”

He was right. I will never reach top ten, but I could be richer than him.

Today is the announcement of the graduating class. I came early in school to see if I am on the list.

Proudly, I am on the list.

“Ryan!” my friend, Leonardo, shouted from very far.

I am about to go home because it’s already six in the afternoon.

“A farting congratulations to you, Ryan!”

“Thanks, I need to go home, Leonardo.”

“Congratulations again for being on the top ten.”

I know he is lying. He’s professional in lying. But still, I am hoping for an impossible thing.

“Are you farting kidding me?”

I ran to the bulletin board and not seen my name on the top ten.

When I looked back, Leonardo was nowhere. I’ll skin him tomorrow.

Mama was right; I’m not going to be on the top ten. I guess I need to steal the medals of my little brother.

The sky is very dark and the wind is crazily strong.

I have to hold strong on the rope to cross the bridge. The water is high and messy.

When I reached home, they are not there. But my brother is very smart to write something on a paper at the table.

Written on the paper: “Mama and I will be late because she promised to buy me an expensive pencil. I am a valedictorian. Next week, you can steal my medals, but please don’t steal my expensive pencil. Mama left a fried chicken next to this paper.”

I already finished eating my dinner, but they’re not still home. And the wind gets stronger and for the first time, I am scared.

An hour before midnight, I am staring at the door like mad, and suddenly my mother entered the door with her body very wet and her eyes very red.

“What happened? Where’s my little idol?”

“Sorry Ryan.”

There’s something inside of me that knows what happened to my brother. But I am trying to compose myself.

“For buying Troy an expensive pencil? Yes, that’s fine.”

“No, Ryan. Your brother ran ahead of me on the bridge. He wants to show you his new pencil so that you can envy him. And then he…”

She holds her chest and catching a breath.

“Don’t say it, mama, please.”

“The rope…”

“Please, don’t say it. No.”

When she said the last word I need to hear, I said all the curse words in my head.

Four days after, a new bridge was built. There is no budget from the government, so all the surrounding households helped to raise money.

I realized that most of us only DO something when something really BAD happened.

Until now, I still think of stealing all his medals and his expensive pencil. But I know it will never happen.
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