Pooh Sticks

My sister looked at the foot bridge in a fair amount of disgust. “Wow, so much for ‘over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.’ This looks terrible.”

She was right. “I remember playing Pooh-Sticks off the old one. I always liked how it looked exactly like the bridge in the books.”

The wind blew through the bridge’s safety wires and said, “I know how much the two of you depended on that game for your happiness in those days.”

“And now?”  I pulled my sweater tight around me, and my sister adjusted my afghan.

“You don’t come to play anymore. No one does. The orphanage is a B&B, and this is what they need me to be now. Cold, utilitarian, safe. Sure, people use me, but no one plays on me. No one loves me anymore. Not like you did.”

My sister pushed my wheelchair up to the rail and I reached out to touch it. It was warm and familiar, but then it shuddered in pain.

“You are sick?”

I nodded. “I’m being moved into hospice tomorrow. I wanted to see you again before I cross that last bridge. I wanted to thank you. The orphanage took care of us, but you… you loved us. You were our refuge.”

The wind blew and the bridge safety wires vibrated again. The entire bridge shimmered until it re-formed as a rickety wooden frame with thick bushes up against it. “How about a game of Pooh Sticks?”

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