WHAT AM I?: Nephilim WHAT AM I?: Nephilim
A teen boy gets killed, but trades his soul for another chance. He changes. A girl notices the new boy with silver eyes.
Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

A Story by Carol Cashes
"

An old wooden footbridge in the California gold country becomes sentient

"

Rites of Passage

 

I am just a bridge, an old, narrow wooden bridge.  Nevertheless, for many mortals I am an altar, of crude design to be sure, yet a place of rites and decisions.  A site of some significance in the memories of too many to count.

 

Those who seek a place for their small ceremonies always, always, stop in my center.  They turn full circle, eyes drawn first to the craggy rocks below that glisten in speckled sunlight from the splashing water.  The sweeping willows that edge the narrow banks downstream seem to pull most strongly at the wistful ones.  They lean over the railings, as if that small distance will take them closer, and sigh with a kind of contentment at their failure.  The bright points of light reflected on the water seem to hold them there, as if bespelled, and mayhap they are " I am just an old wooden bridge, and thus immune to things esoteric.

 

Awareness came to me the moment the last bolt was tightened, the final nail driven, and I knew only pain.  A number of my railing posts were of green wood, and I knew only the sufferings of their slow death.  I wondered how their pain escaped notice from all but me; and I continue to be baffled at the spiritual beings I have come to treasure but who are deaf and blind to most of the physical world that surrounds and even nourishes them.

 

There was little opportunity in the beginning to satisfy my curiosity.  These industrious creatures,  so alien from the natural animals who live among those who are the forest, would cross in the pre-dawn hours, metal boxes clanging against their legs, their heavy boots juddering and pounding my planking.  They carried ropes and metal tools, and many wore set and determined expressions, as if some task awaited them that required all of their concentration and strength.  I am sure that is so, as, upon their return in the shadows of early evening, there was a weariness about them, the boots still heavy but slower and the metal boxes clanged with a hollow sound. 

 

Time passed with no real change and my interest faded as I slumbered in a state of hibernated awareness.  Many seasons passed before I noticed there were no crossings at regular intervals as before.  Purposeful activity had ceased, and only the occasional younger mortals who ran whooping and laughing into the wooded area beyond, couples who murmured and lingered, and the solitary wanderer traversed my narrow span. I still ponder the fate of the first heavy-footed and earnest crossers.  Were they defeated by what they had marched so loudly to and trudged so slowly from each day? 

 

With only the occasional appearances of these creatures of whom I knew so little, I was able to more fully observe and reflect upon their behavior, and with particular interest, the solitary travelers.  Most wandered aimlessly, with no sense of purpose or destination, and I spared them only the most casual notice. Those who hesitated before taking that first step across my now worn planking, however, alerted me something of significance would occur.  Each movement became fraught with importance, and with time I have learned to distinguish between reverence, grief, and decisions deemed worthy of ceremony. 

 

I remain puzzled by their compulsive need to cast into the waters below their relics and treasures.  Some are flung far with cries of triumph, others are clutched to heaving chests and only reluctantly dropped from the railing.  Do these objects retain their importance after their disposal or lose their undesirable hold and become no longer loved or needed?  I have observed rings, ashes, papers, weapons, clothing, hair, tools, precious metals and gems, money,  photographs " all discarded into the swift moving current and carried to places I cannot know.

 

Even more mysterious to me are those mortals who seem to shed something from within, some inner burden, and their steps become lighter as they continue their crossing.  I am unable to understand how their sense of being could be altered by something unseen.  Does fear have weight?  Do purpose and hope have the same volume or mass?  Can one merely replace the other, thus filling the same void?  What is the heft of poverty, anonymity, honor, fame, wealth, recognition? 

 

There are still others who transform their very existence by the crossing, not simply exchanging one state of being for another.  They become different entities with the same bodies, but with different perspectives and processing information in such a manner that permits a new person to exist.  These are mortals who never return; they are fixed in a forever forward movement, going on to places unknown to me as if pulled by other bridges, other altars, one after another.  These are the special ones, the enlightened who mark each bridge and altar, not with ceremony, but with written accounts of their journeys, real or imagined, and the journeys of others that these self-styled scribes perceive to be important.  While others discard inanimate objects in sacrifice or a bid for freedom, the transformed mortals offer and leave these records behind, visible evidence of their passing.

 

The first tear fell almost unnoticed, but when this salty liquid began to seep into the wood, I felt the change that forever claimed me as an unmarked altar.  With each tear thereafter I have been imbued with greater understanding, and even a kind of love for these bewildering, confusing, but wondrous creatures who decided I was worthy of their small ceremonies and rites.   Only once has blood been spilled and absorbed, and that small discoloration, that rusty stain, is only noticed by the most observant. All of nature’s creatures have blood,  but only humans shed tears.  They weep tears of joy and sadness and each are, now, easily distinguished from the other.

 

What feature of my worn planking meets their requirements; what dry, chipped railing post is the deciding factor for these creatures whose lives require such a place?  I may never know, but with each rite performed, my planking seems stronger, sturdier,  and I am more firmly embedded into the walls of this canyon I span.  This accident of location has ensured my immortality and I will remain unchanged for countless generations to follow who will seek me out for these solitary, but crucial moments in their short lives.  Being witness to their small ceremonies makes me a participant " much as a silent high priest whose presence validates the rite, and I, too, am bound by the confessor’s vow of silence.  I offer no absolution, though some find it.  I only witness and remember.  Forever silent, forever unchanged....I am simply, forever. 


© 2017 Carol Cashes



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Reviews

Incredible, I never thought of how it must feel when all cross it or stay and ponder. You wrote it so well and seem so empathetic with all its feelings that one can connect with it on a human level rather than an inanimate structure. Well done

Posted 1 Week Ago


I absolutely love reading pieces that have a personified narrative. It is a difficult skill to master and you have done so perfectly. Wonderful piece!

Posted 1 Week Ago


This is a brilliantly written piece! Choosing an excellent point of view can be one of the most intriguing ways to conceive a message. Here you've managed to show MANY points of view by choosing the bridge's point of view. Very clever & imaginative. Also, the details of each kind of celebration, of the natural surroundings, all your amazing details are so lush & fertile, as far as creating a memorable place. This is an incredible inspiration for me to try a new POV! *smile* (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Month Ago


Carol Cashes

1 Month Ago

Thank you so much for those flattering words. The Cafe has shown me a lot of love for this piece an.. read more
barleygirl

1 Month Ago

The Café has been an amazing source of inspiration for me too! *yippee!*
Personification is a wonderful thing to do, to bring thoughts and emotions to a bridge is perfect because it sees and hears so much going on as people come and go. You really gave it life...

I have a few writes like this and i really got lost in the animation of the subjects.. such a fun thing to do, and a little different :)

Posted 1 Month Ago


Carol Cashes

1 Month Ago

I would love to read those - give me some titles to look up.
And thanks for reading this, I a.. read more
Stella Armour

1 Month Ago

there are non posted on here... give me a couple of minutes and i will post one..
Stella Armour

1 Month Ago

There are "Summer" and "Winter" posted on here and i amjust about to add another one..
Original, brilliantly written story. Reminiscent of the premise of Thornton Wilder's "Bridge of San Luis Rey"- but yours is written from the bridge's point of view and looks at wide brushstrokes of humanity. Your bridge feels pain, curiosity, wonder, transcendence. Amazingly, you have this inanimate bridge contemplating the meaning of it's own life as a focus of recurring human "ceremonies and rites" , and philosophizing about it's place in eternity! I could never hope to aspire to write a piece as wonderful and profound as this my friend. I am so honored to be able to read it. Thank you and Brava Carol! Master Class x 100,0000000000

Posted 1 Month Ago


Carol Cashes

1 Month Ago

Well, there goes three coats of mascara, running down my face like the creek under that bridge! Ann.. read more
Annette Pisano Higley

1 Month Ago

God love you Carol! He knows I sure do. So very proud to know you. Xo :):)
THIS one strikes a chord within and nestles deep. I have bookmarked it to reread again.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Carol Cashes

2 Months Ago

I go to both Keesler and the Seabee Base on occasion, not being military myself, I'm always vaguely .. read more
Chris

2 Months Ago

I remember the "Gold Coast" - was at Keesler (and not as Air Force) for a few months. I tend to thi.. read more
Chris

2 Months Ago

the site dropped a line of my response - twice...so I deleted to try again.
' Does fear have weight? Do purpose and hope have the same volume or mass? Can one merely replace the other, thus filling the same void? What is the heft of poverty, anonymity, honor, fame, wealth, recognition? '

'There are still others who transform their very existence by the crossing, not simply exchanging one state of being for another. They become different entities with the same bodies, but with different perspectives and processing information in such a manner that permits a new person to exist. These are mortals who never return; they are fixed in a forever forward movement, going on to places unknown to me as if pulled by other bridges, other altars, one after another. These are the special ones, the enlightened .. '

Superb words, a flow of observation, veiled warnings, new rules to consider, and, more, far more. A voice that comes from the roots of Thought itself. With hushed voice you've woken so many sleeping emotions, turned mere human understanding into something richer. You've shared your exploration and left a near unforgettable trail. You've become, ' .. ' " much as a silent high priest whose presence validates the rite, and I, too, am bound by the confessor’s vow of silence. I offer no absolution, though some find it. I only witness and remember. Forever silent, forever unchanged....I am simply, forever. ;

Profound, beautiful writing.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Carol Cashes

2 Months Ago

I am...touched by your review. I am humbled yet emboldened as your words validated my thoughts and .. read more
emmajoy

2 Months Ago

Read it with thoughts tumbling, CArol.. and when time is quiet, will do so even more. Yours is an i.. read more
Love this to bits
I'll re read again and not tire

Posted 2 Months Ago


Carol Cashes

2 Months Ago

Thank you, to be re-read is the ultimate tribute! I'm glad you liked it, I worked hard on this one .. read more
Very original. I've always wanted to write a story with an inanimate object being the voice of the story, but this is better than anything I could have made. You managed to make a bridge relateable and human. I would gladly listen to this bridge's stories if it tried speaking to me.

Posted 2 Months Ago


Carol Cashes

2 Months Ago

Thank you, Clifford, but I've read your work and I have no doubt you could spin a yarn around a stic.. read more

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Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on June 8, 2017
Last Updated on August 9, 2017
Tags: fiction

Author

Carol Cashes
Carol Cashes

Biloxi, MS



About
I'm very cynical, jaded, just this side of bitter and the only reason I haven't crossed that line is a good man loves me. I am extremely empathetic, but seldom sympathetic. I can be a ferociously lo.. more..

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