Photo © Joy Pixley
For days I watched Ellsana’s Bridge bustling with city life. Cart wheels clattered, donkey hooves clopped, dirty children shrieked, soup-mothers called out rude greetings to passing friends, received hearty laughs in response.
That night I was late returning to the inn. Iron gates blocked the bridge. Peering through, I saw nothing but blackness, silence, and the opposite gate. I’d been warned, it’s true, but my bed awaited. I slipped through, closing the gate quietly behind me.
Halfway across, I felt foolish tiptoeing. Suddenly thick fog surrounded me. Muffled voices sounded faraway, then within arms’ reach. A woman sobbed, from every direction. Lights flickered, now over the water, now blindingly close.
Abandoning decorum, I ran. Jerking open the gate, I rushed through. I panted, hands on knees, profoundly relieved.
The beggar laughed. He pointed to the moon, hanging large and low. At two moons, more oval than round. Curtains of blackness swept down, obscuring them, then retreated. Like eyes, blinking.
“Not ‘like’ eyes.” The man stood on goat legs, started floating away. “Welcome to Ellsana’s dream.”