(Since this new journal has catagories, I’ve decided I’m going to post fiction peices every now and again — this appears on my main site, but I’m using it to break in the catgory.)
Sitting at the kitchen table, Jake slowly rolled the bottle around on end watching the whiskey splash the sides of the bottle. His eyes wandered back and forth between the booze and the pill bottle sitting just off to the side. “Do I cross this bridge, or just burn the sucker down,” he thought to himself, trying to remember where he had heard that adage before.
“Some fall slowly,” he thought to himself, “but not you, ol’ boy. You like to go down in flames. In between jobs and the woman who you thought was ‘the one’ is in the bedroom packing up her crap to move in with one of your friends.”
Hearing the shuffle in the hallway he called out, “You better have your stupid cat packed up in one of those bags.”
“My cat?” the voice laughed, “you’re the one who brought it home.”
He used to love to hear her laugh. Now it sounded more like a witch’s cackle or nails on a chalkboard he thought to himself as he slowly twisted the lid to the bottle in his hand. Leaning back in the chair he ran his fingers over the cold metal in his hand while staring at the bottle. He’d been inside it before; not all that long ago.
He’d worked so hard to get out. Was crawling back in something he really wanted to do because of a lost love?
Pushing himself back to the table, he screwed the lid back on the bottle. ‘Burn this bridge, buddy, and you go down with it. You know that.” Picking up both bottles, he left the kitchen. In the hall, he pushed the whiskey into one of the woman’s bags. He then continued to the bathroom and returned the sleeping pills to the drawer in the vanity.
“This bridge I think I’ll cross. What’s waiting on the other side has to be better then tonight,” he told himself as he made his way to his bedroom quickly followed by the nagging thought, “Who was it that gave you that advice?”
His eyes scanned the room that was again his alone as he dropped himself to the bed. As he lay his head to the pillow, it came back to him with a smile. It had been a man much older and wiser then him, a man he had met the same night he had stumbled into an AA meeting, a man who had spent the night with him bellied-up to the bar. After many hours of listening to Jake cry in his beer, and watching him drink beer after beer, had looked him in the eye and said solemnly “The hardest thing in life is knowing which bridges to cross and which to burn.”
That was the night he had decided to cross the bridge toward sobriety, climb out of the bottle so to speak. It was the night he had to burn a lot of bridges too, burn bridges with people who couldn’t accept that he had to change his life.
“You crossed that long very shaky bridge once,” he said to himself, “You are not crossing back now.”