The Bridge

Author: Tomas Marcantonio

You’re not supposed to fall in love with an alien. The first time our lips touched I knew my spirit was being ripped down the centre, never to be whole again. I was forever doomed to live as a fragment of myself. Part of me here in this foreign land, the other part left to rot on the other side.
My family are waiting. I visit when I can, of course, but I never come back whole. I wonder if they see it when I step back on home soil: me as a decaying monster, different parts missing with each visit. A leg this time, a few fingers the next. A leper dropping limbs.
We pay the toll and take the bridge. We’re well-stocked for the journey; last time we crossed it took four days. Most couples make it in three, but my partner walks slowly. She can’t help looking down, watching the recesses between the wooden boards, glimpses of the red sea hundreds of feet below. There’s no fear in her eyes; in fact, all expression seems to drain from them, as if the fiery waves are swallowing particles of her soul. The closer we get to the other side – my homeland – the more her eyes glaze over, the slower her movements become, the less she speaks.
We’re like a pair of tortoises, slipping in and out of different shells, all of them ill-fitting. When we walk the bridge, we’re both shell-less, naked. Without shells tortoises should scamper like slick geckos, unburdened and gloriously light-footed. They don’t. They drag their clumsy feet across the ground, withered and half-formed, like slugs being peppered by bullets of salt.
Perhaps I should have run when I could, turned tail before her eyes bewitched me. I should have journeyed homeward as soon as our souls began to connect, our alien wires intertwining of their own accord. That way, I might have kept my soul in one piece.
But we leapt. Together. We joined hands, stoked the fires that burned in our shared furnace. We looked at the bridge and laughed. It’s not so far, we thought. We’d toss our shells and watch them melt away in the red sea. Then as the tears streamed down our cheeks, we’d kiss. Many on both sides tell us it’s wrong; they’ll never know how tears taste the same no matter where you come from.
I see my homeland growing out of the horizon. My family are a minuscule silhouette of open arms waiting on the shore, ready to lovingly reattach the pieces I’ve lost. My partner glances at me and in that moment her eyes sharpen; two glistening galaxies alive with sweet sensation. She smiles with such startling beauty that all doubt is sucked out of being.
My soul is torn in two. It is the most wonderful sensation.


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