Flash Fiction Challenge this week was to take somebody else’s sentence and make a story out of it. I started with “That bridge was burnt long ago, though I never knew if it was my match or my friend’s that started the fire.” Hopefully I did it justice.
Burn, Baby, Burn
“If you’re ever in Vancouver, look me up,” had been the innocuous statement at the ten year reunion.
Sure, why not? Time should have put out the fire, the long burning embers we had been stoking since Freshman year. Maybe we could rebuild that bridge that had existed before.
Kitty-n-Kassie, peas in a pod. Kitty-n-Kassie, soul sisters. Kitty-n-Kassie, chasing the dragon.
So I came to Vancouver. Isn’t it just like that bitch to flee the country?
“Kitty, OMG!” I heard shouted from across the Tim Hortons. She actually said OMG!
“It’s Katherine now,” I corrected her before the whole weekend devolved into sixth grade nicknames.
“Well, la de dah, Miss Grown Up,” she said, half condescending, half joking. Not bitchy enough to get angry at, but enough to know it was there. “Katherine. I like it!”
Of course she did. Nothing ever made any difference to her. She could roll with anything.
I’m totally fine if you go for Gio. I hope he’s into you.
He wasn’t. They dated half of eighth grade.
Wasn’t that some great E last night? We’re totally in high school now.
While I buried my blues.
“Come on,Kit- er, Katherine,” she continued. “I’ll show you around. You’ll love it here. You always loved the outdoors.”
I paused, thinking back, “I guess I did.”
“Stanley Park is just like Golden Gate,” she rambled as I followed her north. “Remember our senior trip to SF? That was so much fun.”
“Nope,” I interrupted. “I was on academic probation. Heard it was fun, though.”
“Really?” She stopped her reverie for a moment. “I totally thought you were there. Who was it that snuck off to the Jamba Juice? You always loved smoothies.”
“Wow, you remember my past better than I do,” I said, not sure if I was sarcastic or serious.
But she probably thought I was one of the masses sitting behind her sanctimonious Honor Society ass in the front row at graduation. Instead, I was miles away and high as a kite with the other drop-outs.
“OMG, Kitty. I tried forever to find you. Nobody on Facebook knew you. We heard you died in a DUI or something. Where have you been?”
It got me thinking. She certainly misremembered the trajectory of our friendship, but had I been the one to leave her behind? I always assumed it was the highfalutin AP student ignoring her druggy friend.
Was I the bitch that had burned the bridge?
“Katherine?” She finally stopped her interrogation and waited for an answer.
“There was a DUI,” her questions were easier to answer than mine, “but I didn’t die. Spent the weekend in jail. But whoever was looking for me wasn’t looking very hard.”
“Isn’t this place beautiful?” Kassie returned to tour guide mode. “It’s bigger than Central Park.”
She had the attention span of a cat. The park was beautiful, though.
The talk went back to the last decade. Her time at UW. Sororities, soccer, a pregnancy scare. I added an occasional “uh huh” to keep her talking about herself instead of asking about me. Nobody needed to hear about annual trips in and out of rehab. Or how much I had blamed on her. The burning hatred I had carried for her.
“This is Lost Lagoon,” she turned back to tour guide on a small wooden bridge. “OMG, I’m totally loving this. Let’s blaze, Kitty!”
That’s when she pulled a joint out and started lighting up.
“Jesus, Kassie, what the fuck are you doing?”
“Oh relax,” she inhaled the flame, igniting the paper. “We’re in BC. It’s practically legal here.”
She coughed out the pungent smoke, close enough to make me twitch.
“I’ve been sober for three years!”
“Relax,” she repeated, handing the joint in my direction. “Does ganj even count?”
She still said ganj wrong. Rhymed it with and, not on. That always annoyed me. Now it made the insulting offer even worse.
“Hell yes, it counts,” I batted the weed out of her protruding hand.
“OMG, Bitch! You need to chill. This is just like last time.”
“What, the ecstasy party? You never noticed that I couldn’t do drugs like you. I couldn’t just wake up and be all chipper. That night started the downward spiral of high school. Of my life!”
I gasped after my tirade, and noticed smoke. The smell of marijuana was mixing with smoldering wood.
“No, when I came back from college,” she responded. “At Jenny’s party. I said sorry for spreading all of those rumors about you in high school.”
“That I gave handies for booze? You started those rumors?”
“Uh, yeah, but I came clean. You can’t hold that against me.”
“Why didn’t I remember that?” I asked out loud, although it was a bigger question for myself. Any thought of smoke disappeared.
“Because you were drunk,” Kassie answered for me. “You flew off the handle. We did some heroin to calm you down.”
“Heroin?” I was bewildered. “That was the first time I did heroin.”
“Yeah, and we made up. Then you disappeared for eight years, just like the emo bitch from high school. And I thought we were finally connecting again. Just like today.”
“You gave me my first heroin? Do you have any idea of the hell that the next five years of my life was?”
I slapped Kassie just as flame erupted beneath her. She screamed and waved her arms.
“Help, help, the bridge is on fire” were the last words I heard as I started to trudge back to the train station.
Bridges are easier to burn than build.
The Lost Lagoon bridge would survive the small conflagration from a wasted joint.
But the bridge between us? That bridge was burnt long ago, though I never knew if it was my match or my friend’s that started the fire.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Equal parts kindling and neglect. Play with enough fire, there’s bound to be a blaze.