In a valley, surrounded by mountains, away from the cacophony of society, lived a man and his boy. The father, hardworking and vigilant, was always mindful of his son. The boy, energetic and naive, was always mindful of the world around him. Fascination with what lay beyond the homestead drove him to explore this new world, and every discovery he made, in his eyes, was mysterious and magical.
His father was aware of his son's meandering tendencies and occasionally warned of the dangers of excessive exploration. "Son," he would say, "Don't let your legs get the best of you. If you allow them, they will take you places that you do not want to end up." The man understood that personifying his son's legs would help bring the message home.
And that is precisely what happened. The allusion to the supposed sentience of his legs caused the boy to be very conscious of them, oftentimes speaking to them verbally to ensure they obeyed his every command. The father chuckled at this behavior, but was nonetheless satisfied with the result.
On a beautiful afternoon, the boy received permission to go explore the surrounding forest for a while. He started his journey by taking the usual route, a familiar well-beaten path winding through the woods. The leaves had already begun to change color with the season, the foliage emanating with a bright collage of gold and orange and burgundy, the majesty of autumn. This, however, did not concern the boy nearly as much as a doe he spotted grazing in a nearby clearing.
Excited by this discovery, the boy and his legs crept up to the doe for a closer look. Hearing the sound of approaching legs, the doe shot a frightened look directly into the boy's innocent eyes. Captivated, the boy stood immovable, lost in the eyes that were timidly yet serenely staring back at his. Minutes passed, but to the boy they seemed like hours, so ensnared he was by her gaze. When she deemed him harmless, she turned and leapt into the forest. With no hesitation, the legs took off in pursuit. The boy, still reeling from his transcendental experience with nature, felt he had no choice but to follow them.
After several minutes of the chase, the boy lost sight of the doe and grew tired. He stopped to catch his breath, and heard in the distance the babbling of flowing water. When he approached the sound, he found a small river with flowing lumps forming around the rapids. This beautiful scene, however, paled in comparison to what he saw next.
Every boy has a fascination with bridges. This one in particular was especially fascinating because it was old, there was no clear path on either side, and the dense magical forest lay just beyond the end of it. Where does it go? Why is it here? What magical place could this bridge possibly lead me to? All these thoughts entered the boy's mind simultaneously as he beheld his wondrous discovery.
The legs began to quiver with excitement. They knew that this bridge would satiate the boy's wanderlust, and thus they proceeded to approach it. Having finally recovered from his encounter with the doe however, the boy was able to consciously chastise his legs and order them to return him home. Reluctantly, they obeyed.
Bursting through the door, the boy ran to his father to tell him the news.
"Dad, I just found the coolest thing in the forest!"
"What is it, son?" He replied.
He chuckled. "That's quite the discovery, son. Where did you find it?"
"It crosses the river in the woods. I think I'm going to back and see what is on the other side!"
The father donned a look of concern.
"Now son," he said, "I want you to be careful. There are many old bridges around here that are no longer used. Many of them have begun to break or rot. And if you cross a bridge without checking to see if it is safe, you could fall and hurt yourself."
"I know I know," The boy replied. "I promise I'll be careful."
"I know you will, son. Just be sure that when you do, you do it with eyes wide open."
That night, the boy's thoughts were consumed by what he had seen that day. The forest, the doe, and that bridge! Oh how his sentient legs wished to cross that bridge and wander into the world beyond. Remembering his father's advice, the boy reminded himself to check the integrity of the bridge before he crossed it. And as in any young boy's mind, that thought remained strong for roughly five seconds until his subconscious dismissed it forever.
The next day the boy ran from the house for his afternoon appointment with the bridge. When he arrived to the spot, the bridge he dreamed about all night was still there, exactly how he remembered it. His father's voice echoed in his mind, "...eyes wide open...," and for a brief moment he remembered his duty to inspect the bridge for lack of integrity. As he approached, he was suddenly aware of a familiar sight on the other side of the river.
Once again captivated by the serene grace of the creature, the boy immediately went into auto-pilot. His legs, fixed on their target, walked slowly towards her, his eyes transfixed on hers. They took their first step on the bridge, and paid no heed to the loud creaking noises that followed. They ignored the faulty structure underneath, the snapping of old rope and the cracking of rotted wood. They brushed off the sound of the rushing water below,which was loud and full of rage. And, to the amazement of the boy, his hand suddenly became aware of its own existence and raised up horizontally, completely bent on touching the elusive animal. The boy had lost control of his limbs; his legs refused to stop walking, his hand resisted his plea to lower, and his eyes had long since betrayed him. The doe, with her beauty, stared back with the same look she always gave him.
With a sudden crack, a board gave way and the boy plummeted to the water. He fell with a thud and a chilling splash, and, much to his surprise, on his own two feet. Fate had decided for the bridge to break right over an eddy that was directly underneath. With the water a little more than knee-deep, the boy regained control of his limbs, which he verbally chastised for putting him in that position. Although all of his limbs had disobeyed him, it was his legs that got him into this mess in the first place, so he blamed it solely on them.
Moments later, the father emerged from the forest and came to his son to help him out of the water.
"Dad, how did you know I fell? I didn't yell when it happened."
He replied "Son, I knew I had to follow you just in case something happened. I even called your name when you were crossing the bridge, and you seemed as if you were deaf."
Much to the man's astonishment, the boy was making no attempt to get out of the eddy.
"Son, why are you standing there? That water is freezing, and if you're in it any longer you may catch a cold."
"I know dad," said the triumphant boy, "I'm just teaching my legs a lesson."