Danny’s Bridge


The little wooden bridge in the woods is covered with red and yellow leaves now. It’s the time of year when the sky looks cold and shivery, clouds and birds bunch up, and little animals go underground for a long sleep. And it’s the time I like best to sit on the bridge and look and listen and think.

My name is Danny Miller. I’m eleven years old, and I’ve been coming here to the bridge since we moved to Willow Grove more than a year ago. It’s a fun place to be. I guess what I like best to look at here are the squirrels. When they get mad, they chatter and make a racket even louder than Mrs. Watkins did the day our dog, Biscuit, accidentally pulled down her clothesline and ran off after her cat, dragging her clean clothes behind him.

But maybe even better than the squirrels, I like watching the way the sun shines through the frosty trees. It reminds me of the way Grandpa Miller looked when he sat in his old chair in the bedroom with the sunlight coming through the little window and of the way he smiled at me—sort of warm and misty.

I like to study the trees, too, especially the tall, straight-up ones. My dad said that they’re strong like Grandpa was. They bend in the wind the same way Grandpa did when he walked across a windblown field. It seems like trees are strong enough to last forever, just like I thought Grandpa would. But Grandpa died last summer.

Since Grandpa’s funeral, missionaries have taught us about Jesus’ Church. They say that just as new life will come in the springtime to the leafless trees, when Grandpa Miller is resurrected, he’ll stand just as tall and fine as he used to—maybe even finer. And I believe them!

Well, when I’m not looking, I’m mostly listening to the quiet. There’s gobs of it in October by the bridge. It’s as quiet as my secret prayers. I’ve been saying them every day. The missionaries said that we should pray about everything that’s important to us. Sometimes I pray while I’m sitting right here on the bridge because it’s so quiet. It’s not really noisy at home, unless my little sister, Michelle, is awake; then even Biscuit goes outside.

Anyway, my Grandpa used to say that the woods are kind of like the scriptures because they are full of God’s things. That makes the woods a special place. The Prophet Joseph Smith must have thought so, too, because he went there to pray once. Even more than once!

When I’m not looking or listening, I’m thinking of all kinds of things. Sometimes I wonder if my pet lizard, Yellow Eyes, gets tired of eating bugs. I think that I’d want to eat peanut butter once in a while.

Sometimes I think about the little notes that Mom puts in my school lunch box. One last week read, “Thanks for clearing the table last night. I love you.” My best friend, Matt Nielsen, read it, and at first I was kind of embarrassed, but then he said that I had a cool mom. So I showed him two other notes that I had in my coat pocket, along with the big marble I won from Larkin Gipson, the best marble player ever.

Right now I’m looking down at the water under the bridge and thinking about getting baptized next Saturday. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I’m glad that the water in the font will be warm and not cold like the water under the bridge. A kid could freeze in it. And the water in the font will be deeper than in the creek because I have to go all the way under, just as Jesus did.

A pale gold leaf just dropped off a big cottonwood tree and landed on the water, and right beside it there is something else reflected in the water—my dad! He often comes and sits beside me, and we look and listen and think together.

Yes, I like it here. The red and yellow woods. The bridge. My dad. And that new feeling that I keep feeling on the inside—warm, deep down.

Maybe I’ll show the missionaries my secret bridge. After all, they shared something special with me!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown