Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WEP CHALLENGE - 'Burning Bridges"

Well friends I finally got my WEP Challenge finished up. I'm having computer problems, so this was written on am iPad and this dumb blonde can't figure out how to turn on the word count feature. I'm hoping I'm not too far over the 1000 word limit. If I am please forgive me. Although I did have plenty of time, I did put this together kind of last minute. It's from an idea I had for awhile based on a song by Garth Brooks. I hope you enjoy.

BURNING BRIDGES



     "Clair, Clair, you in there?”
     “Hummm…”
     “I’de like a a little more coffee, if you can tear yourself away from the screen door. What are you staring at?
     “Coffee, yeah sure, Abs. On the stove,” Clair responds without turning her head.
     Here we go again. I know this look, this attitude, this persona of Clair. She’s deep in thought and getting ready to run. After refilling my mug, I saunter over to see what’s she’s looking at. Adam. I shouldn’t be surprised. Adams’s the latest man in Clair’s life. They came back to the ranch together almost two years ago and have been crazy in love since.
     “He’s younger than me,” Clair mutters more to herself than me.
     “Yeah, but you look about a decade younger than the truth. Besides it doesn’t seem to bother him.”
     “Not today, but it will. Besides I’m such an emotional mess. Why would a guy like that want to be involved with me?”
     “Look honey, why do you continually question a good thing. Who knows why any of us do what we do. Just accept that this guy is crazy about you. You’re still crazy about him, aren’t you?”
     “Yeah of course I am, but one day he’s gonna wake up and it’s gonna hurt real bad.”
     There’s no talking to Clair when she gets like this. Two bad marriages and a raft of broken relationships, this girl is sure nobody is ever gonna love her for the long haul. Clair has this idea in her head that it hurts her less if she leaves them, than waiting around until they are tired of her. Truth be told, she has no idea, because she never gives em the chance to leave. A couple of years and she starts thinking it’s time to end it, then a year or two of severe depression until she meets someone else. Clair throws herself into every relationship like a sixteen years old debutante. This girl knows how to love a man, she just has no idea how to let them love her.
     “He is gorgeous, isn’t he?” She asks.
     “That he is,” I agree. “Course you’re no slouch yourself.”
     “Yeah, right the grey hairs coming in and those little crows feel around my eyes only add to my overall charm, right?”
     There’s no convincing Clair. She’s been sure of her downhill spiral since divorce number two, when she was just a little over thirty. I could shoot that guy for the way he messed my sister up.
     “Look honey, I gotta run. Please promise me you won’t do anything drastic till we can talk some more. This guy is a real keeper and I’m sure he feels the same way about you.”
     “Yeah, Abs that’s what you say about them all.”

     Three days later it started to rain. Not a gently downpour, but a real gully washer. The barrow pits were full in the first few hours and the creeks were running high. Adam stopped by when he was in town and said he was trying to talk Clair into staying with me for a few days, because the ranch was likely to flood out. Of course I knew that would never happen. If Clair was anything it was stubborn to a fault, there was no way she was leaving the ranch in a crisis.

      A week to the day later Adam was on my porch, but this time it wasn’t a cordial visit. He looked like someone had shot his dog and dragged him through the mud. Over coffee he told me what I already feared.

     “I can’t figure her out,” he lamented. Four nights ago when the thunder and lightening was the most violent I thought I was dreaming. She kissed me and told me how much she loved me. Said she loved me enough to let me have the life I should, and then she was gone. When I woke up, her side of the bed was cold and the house was oddly quiet. The storm raged on, but the silence in that place was deafening. I knew she was gone.”
I didn’t know what to say. I also knew she was gone, but I held out hope that Clair would come to her senses and return once the storm cleared out.
“I’m sure she’ll be back,” I tried to reassure Adam.
“Nope, not happening. We had a big discussion about this very thing about six months ago. She kept telling me I could do better and should be with someone younger and less ‘used up’. ‘Used up’, what do you think she meant by that?”
“Look Adam, Clair’s had her heart broke more than once, she’s real skittish about being hurt again.”
“Yeah, but Abs, I didn’t hurt her and I wouldn’t have. I really love her. Love her like grow old together, love her,” Adam pleaded.
“I have no doubt, but it’s not me who needs convincing.”
“Abs, I did everything I could to convince her, show her, be there for her no matter what. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t tell her how much I adored her, but it didn’t seem to matter. She just wouldn’t believe me. Six months ago, she told me that if she ever left, I shouldn’t worry, sometimes she just needed some space, but if she was gone for three days and didn’t return then it was over and I was free to move on with whoever I wanted. It’s been four days now. I gotta go. I gotta save some self-respect and face the fact that she doesn’t want me.”
There was nothing I could say. He was right about one thing, Clair had moved on. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, most likely she was scared she loved him too much, but she was terrified of that love. Horrified that her love for him would somehow destroy her. Clair was one messed up cookie. Always looking for the exit. Ready to run, before she was given the boot.
“Why don’t you hang out in town for a few days. With this storm and all, she may make her way back sooner rather than later and you guys can talk about it try to work something out,” I suggested.
“Nope, she has been preparing me for the last six months for this day and I know what I gotta do. Abs, take care of yourself. You’re a good sister to her and have been a steady friend to me, but it’s over. I would rather move on and lick my wounds in private.”
“I get that, but Adam, you gotta know that she does love you,” I explain.
“You know in some strange convoluted way, I do know that. I know she thinks this is what’s best for me, but in truth she doesn’t get to make that decision. Her fears override everything good and precious in life. You and I both know she’s gonna hurt for a long time and so will I.”
“I know,” is the best I can do.

I don’t know how many days after Adam left it was, but Clair did come back. She looked awful. I could tell she had been crying non-stop for some time and I don’t think she had a shower in a week. Turns out she went up to Carrolton with the intent to head farther out west for a few months.
“Abs, I got to Carrolton and took a long hard look at myself in the rear view mirror. You know my usual plan to never look back. In that rear view mirror I started looking back. I saw this great guy and couldn’t stop thinking about how much I loved and needed him. I decided it was time to give up my running and face life, and I wanted to face it with Adam. I got a room in Carrolton,  a good nights sleep and fixed myself up real nice in the morning before I headed back. When I got to Big River it had left it’s banks and the bridge wasn’t safe, so I waited while they made some emergency repairs. On the third day, they were planning to open the road and the bridge just washed away. Right before my eyes, I saw much future wash away in that muddy water. I couldn’t get back until this morning. I been living in my car.”
“Awe Clair, I’m sorry.” I was actually a little surprised that I meant that. I mean, I love my sister, but all of this trouble with men was her own doing. Sure those two guys she was dumb enough to marry messed with her real bad, but she had the choice to get over it or not. She made a bad call here. This wasn’t anybody’s fault but hers, but still, she was devastated.
“Honey, you tried. If the storm hadn’t been so bad, if the bridge wasn’t washed out…” I tried to console her.
“Abs, you and I both know I lit the match and tossed it onto that bridge myself. No one here to blame but me  .”

45 comments:

  1. I apologize for the multiple formatting problems here. My computer is in 'the shop' with a serious disease and I'm working on an iPad. It won't let me make the necessary corrections (at least not any way I know how) so I had to publish my piece with the errors. Sorry about that. Also. I could not make the link to the write Edit Publish page to find the other entries into the Challenge. Hopefully, I'll be better next time.

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  2. Oh Clair.
    I have done similar things myself. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. And we don't just burn our bridges but dynamite their foundations...
    This rings painfully true. Love it. And hate it.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear you've been a Clair. It's hard.i know.

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  3. Aw, self sabotaged love. Some people just can't believe in themselves or a good thing.

    Very romantic FAE. A true tragedy of fate. Loved how you worked in the actual and symbolic bridges. Well done.

    Ugh, I hate computer problems. To think our world has come to reliance on devices for self satisfaction. Where are those by-gone days. Water under a burnt bridge, eh? lol.

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    1. Ha! I'm the Queen of Self-Sabotage. Not necessarily i love, but just about everything else.

      Thought I would try a little romance this time around.

      And, yes com outer problems suck, big time. I'm afraid this laptop might be toast. I too hate being so dependent on technology. It is definitely not my friend.

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  4. Sorry about all your computer woes. Still you wrote a fantastic story. Proud to be an entrant along such a deep introspective piece of flash fiction. Self sabotage is a sad and destructive thing indeed. Yup, she did burn that bridge.

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    1. Thanks Sheena-Kay, what a nice compliment. Now, I'll try to live up to it.

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  5. Hi,
    The saying don't be too quick to burn your bridges is a true saying. You never know when you want to go back over them. Reading your story, this came to my mind.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

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    1. Far too true. Been there and done that, not necessarily in the love department, but just about everything else. I'm especially good at burning bridges where my employment is concerned.

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  6. She sure lit that bridge on fire without needing a single match. Sometimes you have to leap in instead of run away, but doubt is sure a tricky thing.

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    1. Indeed! Self-doubt is very dangerous, believe me I know.

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  7. All that doubt and head-talk. The mind can be treacherous...

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    1. Over thinking situations can be my specialty, but them sometimes I simply react. Either way there are many b runt bridges in my past.

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  8. Ditto on the treacherous! Self-sabotage, the bane of any existence! Well done though, with all the computer crap going on. Great entry to the June WEP! Thank you!
    Good luck with the computer repairs!

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    1. And, thank you for the nice compliment. I hate all those technical errors. I've got to figure this iPad thing out, because I'm afraid my computer may be a lost cause.

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  9. How sad. I have to hop she can still recover from this in her relationship...

    You know, I had to write on my phone once. *shudders* Glad you persisted!

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    1. Writing on your phone...I can't even imagine.

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    2. Yeah, it wasn't pleasant, but at least I got my thoughts down.

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  10. Such a sad story. Unfortunate that our own insecurities given to us by others cripples us when something wonderful is placed in our hands... Nicely written story. Full of emotion and compassion from her sister.

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  11. People can be their own worst enemies effortlessly! So sad. Great writing and characterisation, engaging and relatable, even though Claire seems a mess psychologically. And the sister too - solid, supportive, but helpless in the face of self induced disasters. Excellent job.

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    1. Thank you very much. I do think that some of the best writing is relatable. I strive for that, but am never sure if I make it.

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  12. Whenever I've burned a bridge behind me but then decide I want to get back anyway, I just hijack an airplane with a box-cutter. I mean, anything a Third Worlder can do, I can do better.

    >>... "gully washers", "creeks running high", and "Brooks" (of the Garth variety)

    I don't know (Bo) Diddley about Garth Brooks, so... what song was this based on?

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

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    1. Based on a song by Garth titled...wait for it...'Burning Bridges'. I wish I could provide a link, but today I'm lucky to be making this reply.

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  13. I think I've enjoyed this piece the most so far. It's so real and true. While I haven't had this experience with romantic relationships, I've burned other bridges for no good reason. The bridges, both real and figurative, in this story are connected perfectly. Good piece.

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    1. Thank you so much, Toinetee. As I said in an earlier comment, I really strive to be relatable, but am never sure if I make it. I think we enjoy reading something that rings true more.

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  14. We are our own worst enemy sometimes, and this story is a good example of that.

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  15. So sad... and so familiar. Don't we all sabotage ourselves sometimes? Because of self-doubts. Because 'who could love the poor old me?' My heart aches for Clair. Terrific story!

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    1. Thanks Olga, that means a lot.

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    2. Olga, I'm trying to leave a comment at your site and it won't accept my URL. I loved your piece, really enjoy these characters. Sorry I can't say that at your space.

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  16. How are we always our own worst enemies? You win as far as I'm concerned. Really.

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  17. This is great, FAE. Love the angst of Clair, which I'm sure is not all that unusual. But she's been hurt, so finds it hard to trust, especially herself.
    I love this sentence especially. To me, the central idea of the story --'This girl knows how to love a man, she just has no idea how to let them love her...' So poignant.

    Despite your computer problems, I'm so glad you persevered with your IPad and published this story for us.

    Denise :-)

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    1. Thanks Denise, appreciate your comments. That sentence was one of my favorites also. It just kind of came out of nowhere, normally, my best stuff does.

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  18. Whhhheeeeewwww... I didn't see that last line coming! Excellent job. Great time reading this.

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  19. Hi FAE - loved this story ... I really felt with it and rolled with her emotions, the hassles of life - yet the loves too ... such great story telling. Clever to use Burning Bridges as looking back - but having gone too far - then on returning finding others have gone. I really enjoyed that - she knows her challenges ... perhaps all ends well in due time!

    Good luck with the dreaded machine and getting the computer side of life fixed - Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary, the 'machine' woes are a pain, but the unfortunate side to this age if technology.

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  20. What a tragedy at the end. Great piece. Good luck with your computer.

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