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Short Stories for Children of all Ages: The bridgeThe bridge

 

Max and Peter were third grade students who lived in the same street of a small town. They had always been best friends until, one day, they had an argument and began hating each other.

Whenever Max left his flat, he would call Peter a jerk at the top of his voice. Then, he would shake his fist at him.

As for Peter, he unfailingly answered, ´How many beetles like you do we need to make a pound?´, and he would also shake his fist at Max.

Their classmates had tried to reconcile them countless times but all their efforts had been in vain. They were both very stubborn. The last try had even ended up in their throwing mud balls at each other.

One day, it rained a lot. When the clouds cleared away and the sun shone again, everybody could see that the street had been completely flooded. People tried first to see how deep the water was before crossing it. In the end, everybody gave up.

Max left his flat, stopped on the sidewalk and looked around him, pleased. The rain had certainly cleaned and refreshed everything. Suddenly, he saw Peter across the street, with a big stone in his hand, and the look on his face changed.

´So,´ thought Max, ´you want to throw that stone at me. That´s something I can also do.´

He ran into the courtyard of his building to look for a brick and then went back into the street, ready to defend himself. However, Peter did not throw the stone at him. Instead, he bent down by the sidewalk and put the stone in the water with the utmost care. After putting his foot on the stone to see how much it wavered, Peter went away.

The stone looked like a small island.

´I can also do that,´ thought Max. And he put the brick in the water alongside Peter´s stone.

Peter reappeared, bringing a second stone in his hand which he put next to the first and alongside Max´s brick. Max brought three bricks altogether and, little by little, they began to build a passage over the water.

People were now looking at them, on both sides of the street. They waited in silence to see what would happen next.

At last, there was only a step´s distance between the last brick and the last stone, and Max and Peter were facing each other. It had been a long time since they had last looked each other in the eyes.

´I have a turtle in my courtyard,´ said Max. ´Do you want to come and see it?´

N. Oettli
 

Jutta Modler (org.)

Brücken Bauen
Wien, Herder, 1987
(Translation and adaptation)

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