“What’s the matter, dear?” Mr. Williams asked his wife at dinner that evening.
“Sure there is. I can tell.”
“Well…I wrote an article for that teachers’ magazine, and they are not going to print it.”
“Said it was too serious.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’ll write them and tell them that I don’t agree.”
“If you want them to print the next thing you send them, you’ll need to be very courteous.”
“I know, I won’t ‘burn my bridges’ with them, although I may never send them another one.”
“What does ‘burning your bridges’ mean, Mom?” Tess asked.
“Long ago, bridges were made of wood rather than steel and concrete. When an army was going into enemy land using bridges across rivers, they left guards at the bridges to keep their enemy from using them. Sometimes, they burned the bridges so they could not be used, but this meant that they also could not use them if they had to retreat, if they had to go back across the rivers.”
“So, with people, it means do not make them into enemies, as you may need their help later,” Tess replied.
“Exactly,” her mother said. “Still, I am angry that they did not print this. I think I won’t send them any more.”
“Who will you hurt more that way, them or you?” Rick asked.
“Good question, Rick,” Mr. W. said. “Your mother may wish she could still write for them. It could be a case of ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face.’”
“What?” asked Tim.
“Sounds painful!” Tess added.
“Dad means that sometimes when we try to hurt someone else we hurt ourselves more, instead,” Mrs. W. explained.
“Shouldn’t Mom stick up for herself?” Rick asked his father.
“Sure, she can write a polite letter or give them a call, keeping in mind that ‘a soft answer turns away wrath,’ speaking gently often keeps others from getting angry.”
Mrs. Williams decided to heed both “silence is golden” and “turn the other cheek.“ She made her next article a little less serious, and it was printed. The magazine was pleased and so was she. She had succeeded…and she had not “cut off her nose” in spite.
One of our series of 50 instructive short stories.