The Rainbow Bridge
"A Seeker Story"
The morning sun burst through the clouds like a small child poking holes in the soap bubbles of their bath, eliciting swarms of golden rays to lance across the landscape below. Tiny sea gulls swam the ocean of sky, their heart shaped wings harvesting the air with graceful sweeps as they made their way towards Lake Folsom.
I watched the skies like an avid hockey fan, searching for every hint of what was to come. It would come, I just didn't know when. I had spent a year waiting for this event and I wasn't about to miss it, come hell or high water.
"Look!" My partner in the crime hollered.
I looked towards where her tiny finger was pointing.
Ellie's slender finger, shaped like porcelain jewelry, pointed at a cloud that resembled Apollo's cart and horse that drew the famous God across the skies every day at morning sun rise and evening sun set. Her blue eyes were screwed together in concentration, causing her eyebrows to pucker away from her bronzed forehead. She was tiny for her age, and I had recently learned she wasn't growing much, which scared her father. Another reason I was here. To support him and to give her love. I can't think of a more healing potion than love and with her I had no problem heaping it on, because the child was the most pure of diamonds I had ever experienced. Never a bad mood, tantrum or foul mood attached to her.
She was a pure delight. Barely five, she already talked like an adult, was slipping into her father's bookshelves to read the classics and drew artwork that to put it simply were simply stunning. One piece featured prominently in her portfolio that her father kept. It was a beautiful rainbow with gigantic angels crossing it. For some reason that image stuck in my mind. I had first seen it several years ago, and it had never gone far from my recollections when I thought of her and any visit I might make.
So where Ellison had phoned me and asked me to visit, I had leaped at the opportunity to renew our friendship and play with that angel he had brought into his life...and now mine.
I picked her up and put her on my shoulders and danced in tiny circles with her, causing her lockets of blonde hair to bounce up and down across the top of my head and the baseball cap I had reversed there that said, "Rainbows such, eat clouds!"
I had bought it from a vendor down on Sacramento Street, who was attending the annual Clee Cluckers Event. It was the official parade of the non-believing, agnostic fruit pickers of America. A silly name for a group of college kids that I had met on Facebook through another friend. They called themselves the Clee Cluckers because they loved to make fun of anything and everything, but in a good hearted way. Usually their energies these days were more focused on politics, because heaven knows that Washington and our Capitols need a lot more humor than exists there now.
"Ricky!" She shouted happily, screaming with delight.
But all delight comes to an end eventually, and I collapsed onto our blanket by the large vee that separates the Sacramento and American Rivers, and lay there panting for breath, while she danced around my exhausted body, clapping her hands. Finally, she got tired of that and flopped beside me.
I sat up and gave her a weird face. She giggled and touched my cheeks. "Uncle Ricky, silly."
"I am, aren't I?" I managed weakly, then lugged over the medicine chest. (A nick name for the goodies I inevitably loaded our picnic basket with to cure our hunger.)
"Rass or Tass?" I asked.
"Rass." She squealed.
I grabbed a cold Raspberry Juice Soda for her, popped its cap off with a thumb, and gave it to her. She guzzled it down noisily, leaking on her cheeks as she did.
I hurriedly grabbed a towel I kept handy and swiped at her cheeks. She giggled, but kept on drinking.
I dug out the cold sandwiches I had packed, one of which was Turkey and one that was Chicken. "Cluck or Duck?" I asked.
She gave me a searching look. "You didn't hurt Daffy, did you?"
I held up hands up, the sandwiches with them. "Nope, no birds offended, or ducks."
She leaped for the Chicken one, and I let it drop into her outreached hands. She dropped beside me, unwrapped it, and then attacked it like someone who hadn't eaten in days. She was going through a growth spurt.
I unwrapped mine and at a more gentle pace began nibbling around the edges of my Turkey sandwich, which I had loaded with mayo, pickles, lettuce and a nice garden fresh tomato from her backyard.
We ate in silence, appreciating the shade of the trees that overhung us, and watched as some speedboats wove across the river, their drivers waving at each other.
It was a peaceful day, which was a contrast to how my heart had felt lately. I looked over at Ellie and she was close to gobbling the last of her sandwich. I hurriedly grabbed a bag of chips and dumped it into her lap and she slowed down long enough to open it, spilling some on the blanket, which she ate up fast. The ants were searching for food, so she had to be quick.
Ever since I had left the mountain top to come back down into the valley again, I had spent nights and days wondering what my next course of action would be. I was like a hermit in some ways, because I generally kept to myself, except when I visited my best friend, Ellison, whose daughter was named after him. He and I went back to college, where we had both hogged all the paranormal, occult and spiritual sections of the library as we sought to accomplish in a few months, what greater men have not accomplished in lifetimes...discover and unveil the secrets of Creation.
I can understand now why Moses didn't make it to the Promised Land with his people; he was too busy trying to figure out what the meaning of that burning bush was. I smiled at that thought. Not likely, but it sounded good.
A jet from the Sacramento Airport thundered over head and Ellie gawked at it, her lower jaw hanging open with a chip still half uneaten in her mouth. I laughed.
She gave me a quick look, then smiled, and went back into making her chip bag empty.
Finished, she came over to me and snuggled against my side. "Daddy likes you. I like you. Can we get married when I grow up?"
I laughed. "Aw, Ellie, that's sweet, but by that time I'll be this old gray haired man with hair growing from my nose and ears that's over a foot long.
"Euuu!" She said in disgust.
I laughed again, and then gave her a warm hug.
"Time to go, sweet cakes." I told her.
"But we haven't seen the Rainbow Bridge yet."
I gave her a side look. "The one from your coloring book?"
I thought she was talking about the fantasy one, the Rainbow Brite coloring book o ne.
"No, the one that crosses the rivers into the other side."
"Other side of what?"
"The other side, silly." She said in exasperation.
I gave her an appraising look. "You're pulling my leg."
"I saw it last time I was here. Daddy and Mommy were too busy putting their lips one each other's faces to see it. But I saw it."
I laughed, not at what she had seen, but what she had seen.
"Okay. So where's it supposed to be?"
She stood up and turned slowly, until she was facing towards the tall skyscrapers of Sacramento. "There." She said, pointing.
I stood up, maybe I was missing something. I hadn't been out here in a few years, so something's might have changed.
Then the morning mists over the river began to thicken, almost as if a great chef was turning up the steam on his cooking pot. Fingers of mist began gathering above the vee of the rivers, and the formed a misty bridge of sorts.
I smiled. It did look like a bridge.
"No rainbow today?"
She shook her head. "Not yet. It will come."
I waited and waited, and then the bridge seemed to brighten and change colors, until it became all the colors of the rainbow. As it did I could swear I saw these gigantic beings crossing over it, with wings of light issuing from their shoulders.
Ellie began jumping up and down. "See it. See it!"
I did, but no one else did.
I looked around and not a single other person picnicking or playing out there in that park was looking at it, or if they were acted as if they saw anything, because they casually looked away.
Then the largest giant of them all stepped onto the bridge, crossed half-way, then turned and looked towards us. It smiled and slowly raised a hand to wave at us.
Ellie waved and waved, until it lowered its hand, then it and the bridge collapsed as two speedboats, racing side by side shot through the mist, scattering it forever.
I sat back down.
Ellie stood there looking at me triumphantly.
"See, I told you it was there."
I began putting our things away and she took my right hand and my left took the rest of our belongings and we made our way to my car.
"Thank you, Ellie." I told her.
"Can we do it again? She asked in a typical childish manner.
I smiled and wondered. "Could we indeed?"