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  • The approach to Little Trammel Creek inspired equal parts pure joy and unmitigated terror. As a child, I understood that the the bridge over this little creek was the answer to that persistent question, "Are we there yet?" and that once across, we were just minutes from my own personal heaven. Summers at my grandparents' farm were something that the child-me delighted in. Summers there were freedom - freedom to sit on top of the well house and pretend to be the Princess of Tobacco Field, freedom to run barefoot through the endless garden breathing in the smells of fresh-turned earth, freedom to snuggle deep into a feather mattress at night and lay quiet, telling stories in my head, listening to the pond frogs croak their mating calls. Even the work that fell into my hands those summers; breaking beans, gathering eggs, and shelling corn, felt like fun. More fun than the endless games of hide-n-seek and kick-the-can at home.

    But as much as I loved being on the other side of that little bridge, crossing it was enough to make this little girl cower in the floorboards of her parents' Plymouth Fury, head buried under pretzel arms. The noises that old wooden bridge made! Creaks and groans and rattles that seemed to go on forever as dad drove carefully across the narrow plankways. I was sure every time across would be my last, that this time would be the one, the one trip across when those old boards would finally shake loose and plunge us, car and all, down into the murky waters of the Trammel nattering below us. Unlike Billy Joe McAllister, I didn't want to depart this life by way of any bridge.

    Well before the front tires crossed the "I dare you" line from road to bridge, I would be hunkered down in the floor, consoling myself that at least the drop into the water was shorter from there. Once the death rattles began to quiet, I would dare peek my head up over the backrest to make sure the wooden structure had only given way back to bumpy asphalt. Then, and only then, would I clamber back up into the wide seat, kneeling backward to look out the window at the skeleton frame of the defeated monster, amazed that we had slayed the dragon yet again. I would stare that old rattley bridge down until we went round the bend at the abandoned Petroleum High School. Out of sight and out of mind, that bridge was quickly forgotten. The weak tremblies of just moments ago replaced by a growing excitement and the invincibility of childhood dreams.
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