Rated PG. Contains anthropomorphization, fish, and stars.
On the Banks of the River of Heaven
by Richard Parks
On the seventh day of the seventh month as it had for the previous two years, it rained. And it rained. The cranes still came at Kaiboshi’s bidding to stand by the shore and form the base of the bridge. Next came the geese and the ducks and other waterfowl, who fared well enough creating the platform and first few degrees of arc for the bridge. After that, however, came the hawks and crows and sparrows and smaller birds, and the rain beat down on them incessantly, and their wings became sodden and would no longer support them and a bridge, too. The cranes held on gamely as the river swelled into flood, but their skinny legs began to tremble. Kaiboshi reluctantly concluded that the enterprise was doomed, and he dismissed the birds with thanks rather than risk seeing them fall in the river after the inevitable collapse.
Three years now the rains had come on the appointed day. For three years the Bridge of Birds that was his only way to cross the Celestial River had been unable to form. Kaiboshi began to wonder if he was cursed, but more he wondered if Asago-hime had started to forget him. He sat down on the banks of the river and let the rising waters chill his feet as he indulged in a bout of melancholy, since he knew of nothing else he could do.
“Three years is a long time to be apart from the one you love,” he said aloud. “Even for an immortal.”
About the Author
Richard Parks’ stories have appeared in Asimov’s SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine,, Weird Tales, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and numerous anthologies, including several Year’s Bests. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books and The Laws of Power series from Canemill Publishing. His work has been nominated for both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. An ex-pat Mississippian now living in central New York with his wife and a varying number of cats, he plays guitar (badly) and collects Japanese Shin Hanga woodblock prints in whatever time he has left.
About the Narrator
Cartoonist Barry Deutsch lives in Portland, Oregon, in a bright blue house with bubble-gum pink trim. His 2010 graphic novel Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword was the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Sydney Taylor Award, and was also nominated for Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz, and Nebula awards. His second Hereville graphic novel, Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite, won the Oregon Book Award. The third Hereville book, Hereville: How Mirka Caught A Fish, was released in late 2015.