A Guide to Burning Bridges

Materialized by Claudia Wair on Wednesday, June 21st 2023.

The bridge leads to: Your former lover.

Structural design: Built with plywood and bound with lies, this bridge is small and weak.

The burning: There’s nothing resembling love in this affair. You’re tired of the little jabs, tired of the jealousy, the gaslighting. You can hear him asking for one more chance. But it’s too late now. You smile and strike the match. The bridge catches immediately. After a momentary blaze, it’s gone.

The bridge leads to: Your ex-husband.

Structural design: Made of two-by-fours and broken promises, it was built on shifting ground.

The burning: After staying silent for so long, you finally find your voice, and your words are enough to set the fire. It burns bright, the acrid smoke stinging your eyes. Your ex stands on the other side and watches, surprised you’ve gone to such lengths. He turns away before the bridge falls into the water. But you stay, making sure there’s nothing left.

The bridge leads to: Your parents.

Structural design: Dense hardwood, as strong as a paddle. It’s held together with the fragments of all your oldest hopes, from the time before you stopped dreaming.

The burning: This is the most difficult one to destroy. Its piles sink deep into the riverbed. You light the match, hold it to the crumpled-up newspaper and wait. Soon, the air smells like a bonfire. Your parents object. They shout apologies, declare love, their voices discordant above the crackling flames. But you’ve grown strong enough to ignore them. Strong enough to build new bridges, and to burn the ones that lead nowhere.

Claudia Wair is a Virginia-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in The Centifictionist, JMWW, Tangled Locks, The Wondrous Real Magazine, and elsewhere. You can read more at claudiawair.com, or find her on Twitter @CWTellsTales.