Crossing Over
SUNY Jefferson
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Crossing Over

Bryce Levac

Footsteps weigh heavily upon the many cracks in the concrete below. Each step places considerable faith that these separations are in fact even, and not  upended from the Earth in the form of a hidden tumor. Fortunately for Lorina Dodson, these tumors do not metastasize and grow until only the most cancerous sections of the sidewalk remain. They are certainly capable of expansion but only to the effect of tripping someone like Ms. Dodson up enough to fall upon the heavily split surface below. Each footstep is a retaliation of sorts against the growth beneath her, as she races towards the bridge she has spent almost her entire life crossing over and over again.

She's five again and it's the end of summer. Her mother's hand wraps around her own as they walk in unison over the bridge, joining the cars that cross upon it. The bridge itself hovers over a river that flows serenely under the early morning sun. Its purpose, according to five year old Lorina, is to simply connect her house, which is right across the street from the bridge, to the other side of town, which contains all the bare essentials that Lorina and her mother would need from week to week. There are no cracks or obtuse spots of growth beneath them to impede their journey into Lorina's much acclaimed and expected debute of elementary school. To Lorina, it's as if the world was expecting and now welcoming them. The birds' melody offers them a steady beat to walk to as they lead to Lorina's first grand opportunity to grow and expand. The river rushes underneath them, occasionally spewing bits of mist into the air that help to cool the arid atmosphere surrounding them. During this unintentional welcoming ceremony, Lorina's mother leads with a natural and steadfast pace that makes Lorina ponder if her mother even needs the bridge with how she dances in the air.

She's fifteen again and it's the middle of fall. Crossing over by herself had become a normality at this point as her mother felt it was no longer a necessity to accompany her across the well traversed bridge. During this particular time of year, and especially during this particular time of day, the sun's warming observance was at its peak. The life in both the river and land bustled around Lorina. Fish down below breezed across the surface, letting themselves flow softly down the river. The diner across the bridge already contained a few patrons, each of them wrapped within their caffeinated cocoons, with nourishment coming from the everlasting combination of syrup and pancakes. They all contributed in conditioning Lorina into a more alert and observative state of being as she felt the slight drag in her eyes and body begin to fade into comforting wonderment. The only interruption in this elaborate conditioning was the crack that had formed at the beginning of the bridge's sidewalk, a detail that Lorina forgot almost as soon as she noticed.

She's twenty-five again and winter welcomes her home. Lights dance their way across the bridge, leading both Lorina and her mother towards their house. They had decided to walk to the diner that sat across the bridge for an early dinner since Lorina had just arrived home from college. Despite it having been over a year since the last time she was home, the journey across the bridge remained as familiar to her as her own body. The only noticeable difference being the previously minimal cracks that seemed to have grown in quantity the last time she visited. The only source of unfamiliarity resided in their journey back. To Lorina, this perspective had always remained foreign to her, no matter how many times she had utilized it on the way home from school or the store to get groceries for them, it always felt as if the world had been inverted. The rhythm had shifted now to be a deescalation. The river was now at a visible standstill, not frozen over, just lacking movement from the wind that swept above, and the creatures that dwelled below. Even her mother had recognized this shift in the atmosphere as she no longer seemed as confident in her balletic steps as she was on the way there. With the lively diner behind them, all that was left was the image of row upon row of domestic housing that seemed to be sleeping soundly in their respective beds of grass. It was then, as she looked upon the resting masses, that Lorina's balance was distributed, almost falling upon the pavement below. Both her and her mother let out a slight yelp that communicated their shared fear and concern at Lorina's descent. She was able to catch herself, to the relief of both, before noticing the cause of the trip being an upended, jagged piece of concrete that had amassed itself upon the sidewalk below.

She is now thirty-five and winter is ending. Lorina is forced to walk alone once again. All of these years compound each other, placing all of their chronal weight upon Lorina's chest, extracing her air. At this, she decides to stop herself short of her eventual destination for a momentary bit of respite. She looks back from the way she came, trying to place an image of her previously everlasting home over the now abandoned shell that it is. She imagines what it will be like years from now. A cesspool of overgrown cells in the form of moss and towering blades of grass that would make it unrecognizable. All of it pushing the walls of the house farther apart until it implodes in an emerald expansion that desires to spread to other homes. She hopes the other side will help take her mind off of this possible dystopia, that it might not remind her of the same haunting nature of destructive expansion. Although she should've known better, Lorina's entire being still tenses when she witnesses the swarm of foreign bodies that have infested the once homey diner she took comfort in passing on school mornings. The growth here was benign, as the people within seemed joyful enough to be endlessly cramped together until the diner's eventual closure. No matter how harmless and joyful this appeared, Lorina could not feel it, only being able to fear its imminency.

Lorina presses herself against the bridge's fence as it encapsulates all sides of the bridge except for its entrance and exit. Cars pass by swiftly, adhering to the natural flow that has been systematically established since before her and her mom would walk beside it together. They flow continuously in their respective vessels, or perhaps would it be more accurate to call them capillaries? A visible breath of ecstasy escapes Lorina as her lips crease to each side of her face, connecting her dangling scarlet hair to the rest of her face. This instinctive movement passes almost as quickly as the breath's visibility though, as her gaze simply falls to the settling horizon. Lorina presses her face against the steel, interconnecting wires, only wishing to expand endlessly across the city like the cells within her mother had.

A petal then dances across Lorina's face, almost flaunting itself in front of her as it travels through the air. Lorina can only form a look of concerned confusion as it continues a series of dips and dives, spinning endlessly as its pollen is shaken off with each rotation. Her confusion is then rewarded with an almost imperceptible answer. The petal is dancing. Lorina's lips connect to her hair once more, as she steps on the air, knowing spring is only just beginning.