The fog blanketed the landscape, and made it difficult to see even halfway across the wooden, queen post truss bridge. It was one of the few wooden bridges left around these parts, as steel became increasingly popular, and this one was slated to be torn down. It was inevitable, of course, as with the steady march of time and rot, the bridge became dangerous for motorists. They’d blocked it off and set up detours for vehicles, and put up signs to keep pedestrians off it, as well. However, this hadn’t stopped the neighboring children and teens from continuing to go to the middle to fish, or throw rocks into the water.
She closed her eyes, and the ghost of a smile rose and fell from her mouth so quickly one might not have noticed it if they weren’t looking. She’d spent many summers with her younger sister, playing on the riverbank, fishing, and skipping smooth river rocks in the same direction as the lazy current. Spring would bring melted snow water rushing down, rising to try and escape the river bank with it’s deep, strong current. Even the small children knew to avoid the banks during those weeks.
But it hadn’t been a spring flood that took her sister, or a slip on the river bank–it had been the bridge. She opened her eyes and took the last few steps, her winter boots quiet on the first plank of wood after leaving the gravel of the road’s shoulder. Moving around the signs and continuing despite the professed, and known, danger, she stopped halfway across. Crossing her arms over her chest, though the puffy, black jacket made it difficult, the first sob escaped and was swallowed by the fog. Grief and guilt washed over her in waves, and she could still hear the crack of the wood, and the horror overcome her as she realized her sister was nowhere to be seen.
No one blamed her, not really, but she still did. Everyone knew the dangers, but ignored them, at least until her sister had died. She sniffled, partially because of the cold as well as the crying, and pulled her mittens off, stuffing them in her left pocket. From her right pocket she brought out a single, white pillar candle, and a lighter. Placing the candle on the edge of the bridge, near the fluttering remnants of crime scene tape and new wood boarding up the gap, she lit the candle and waited for the flame to flare and hold steady. She had more good memories of the bridge than bad ones, and it was almost as if she could hear her sister’s laughter floating around her like the bubbly, joyous sound it had been.
Walking to the other, less used side, she grabbed the many canisters of gasoline she’d stashed there. Her business finished with her sister’s memory, and wood thoroughly soaked with noxious fumes, she set the structure on fire. The fire glowed against the fog, and the heat made her turn around and leave it to finish the bridge off. The wood cracking loudly across the landscape she couldn’t see, and smoke burning her eyes and throat, she made her way up the hill and back toward home.
Yes, she had more good memories than bad ones, but she’d be damned if she let this bridge stand and make bad ones for anyone else.