The Bridge – Dan Lawrence

Adrianne took a deep breath. “Mom.”

“Some grapes, then? Or….”




At breakfast Adrianne announced they would be leaving the next day. Gom protested, but not strenuously enough to interfere with their preparations. Melvin was willing to pack, with Adrianne’s help, but he was overly conscientious about it, as if he were packing for some disaster of as yet undisclosed proportions: a trip to the hospital or to the tornado shelter. He was so anxious to do the right thing that he couldn’t. He dropped most of his socks while trying to carry them with his underwear. He put his sneakers, treads down, on top of his best white shirt. This was not the Melvin of a few weeks before whose self-assurance had been, at times, breathtaking. Adrianne suddenly realized that, in spite of all the time they’d spent together recently, in some ways she’d lost track of him, of Paula, too.

“Everything OK, Melvin?” she asked remedially. He nodded his head several times and looked worried. Adrianne felt a pang of conscience. She was probably too hard on him, her moods too arbitrary. “Is there anything you want to tell Mommy?” she asked, touching his head gently to make her good intentions clear.

He took a small sharp breath and said a frightened sounding “No,” before leaving the room. Adrianne continued packing, furrowing her brow as she considered whether to follow him or not. Paula started crying in the next room. She had just gone down for her nap. A minute later Melvin returned, toothbrush and comb in hand. She took them from him and laid them gently on the dresser, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that he would need them that night.

Paula was howling now, the word “Mommy” escaping her like a banshee. Every nap time for the past few days had been the same: first the crying, then the howling, then screaming that ended abruptly in vomiting. She didn’t want to let it get that far today, but as she rushed from the room she wondered what she had done to trigger this new response.

Paula stopped howling as soon as Adrianne picked her up. In fact she started to giggle, toying with the nap of Adrianne’s sweater and squealing, “Mommy, Mommy,” with coy delight.

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