“Jamie, I’m scared.” My little sister clutched my hand.

“Don’t worry, love. I’ll be right here beside you, every step of the way.”

“Promise?” Her big eyes pleaded. “Scout’s honor.” I smiled gently, and she relaxed a bit, took another few steps. We were almost to the entrance of the beautiful bridge.

“Look, Jenna, can you see the far shore?”

Jenna peered into the grey-blue mist, nervous and uncertain. “It does look a tiny bit brighter over there,” she said bravely.

“You’ll love it! I’ve heard it’s beautiful. And the air  – you’ll be able to breathe, and run, and play.”

Jenna and I used to sit in the window of her sickroom, watching healthy children tossing balls, hiding and seeking, squealing happily. Once I carried her to a flower-filled meadow where she was enchanted by soft clouds that looked like fluffy white sheep. Jenna laughed with delight, but then her laugh turned into a choking cough and I had to rush her back to safety. Still, she always remembered the meadow.

“Are there flowers over there?”

“More than you could possibly count.”

“What color?”

“Every color you can imagine. Plus colors that never existed before!”

“Are there clouds?”

“In all shapes and sizes. Sheep of course, but also owls and kittens and even an occasional mongoose.”

By now she had one foot on the bridge.  She laughed easily, no cough. A look of amazement crossed her face.

“I can breathe, Jamie. I can breathe!”

I gazed intently at my dear little sister, committing her to memory. Her cheeks were full of color, her eyes sparkling. She was no longer afraid and she was no longer sick. For the first time in her four-and-a-half years, she was strong and sure of herself. I held back the avalanche of tears waiting behind my reassuring smile.

“Tell Mom and Dad I said hello,” I called to her as she let go of my hand and skipped across the bridge, more alive in death than she had ever been in life. She turned, blew me a kiss, and then she was gone.

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
6 months ago

Sweet/Scary Winner: This was one of the sweetest stories we have read. Yes, it has the word “scared” in the first line, but the beauty and delicacy of the rest of the story made it one of our favorites.  

Ayah Mateen
Ayah Mateen (@ayah-mateen)
7 months ago

This one’s more wistful and sad than scary when Jenna reaches the other side of the bridge, but I will say I was prepared for the bittersweet ending. Still you fit an amazing amount of emotions and background in such a very short story I’m impressed.

Ayah Mateen
Ayah Mateen (@ayah-mateen)
6 months ago
Reply to  Juma

No, no the title and the picture are fitting. It was around when Jamie remembers the field he took his sister to but she was too sick to enjoy and he starts to tell her how wonderful the other side is. That’s when it clicked. I suddenly remembered you wrote “you’ll be able to breathe, and run, play” and I was like – Ah she’s dying..

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

What a beautiful, emotional story, Juma. It’s nice seeing this side of ghosts, a bit like in my ‘One Perfect Night’ story, rather than the scary side. Quite lovely, well done.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
6 months ago

A beautiful story, Juma, although I did not hold back my avalanche of tears. It is just what I would want for a loved one passing after suffering. Well done  ? 

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
6 months ago

A beautiful and bittersweet story about sibling’s love in a difficult situation. I loved it and was reminded of a magnificent children’s book, The Brothers Lionheart, written by Astrid Lindgren, our beloved Swedish writer. Great writing!

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
6 months ago

What a touching story, Juma! It is about brotherly love, care, and comfort in death. I cannot describe the solace it has given me.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
6 months ago

This story is very touching, Juma. It was hurtful and tremendously difficult. A sibling’s love is an unbreakable bond. The best thing is that you can see that your sister is no longer struggling- she is happy and free from sickness. Somehow you will be happy for her even if it is difficult. Well done, Juma.

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