Mattie's Choice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Mattie made his choice years ago.

Submitted: March 06, 2018

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Submitted: March 06, 2018

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Mattie’s Choice

It was cold; so very, very cold. Mattie picked up a chunk of coal, a small log of wood, and carefully placed them in the stove. He only had the fire burning in half of it, as his fuel supplies were running short and there was no sign of a let-up in the weather. The pavement would be too slippery for him to walk out and order in some more, even if he could afford it.

They’d run out of money for the pensions before his turn. They’d apologised but that didn’t change things; the money couldn’t get through but they weren’t going to want to hear that in the stores. He’d be sure to get it the following week but that was little consolation when he was hunched around the fire, trying desperately to keep warm. He’d have a cup of tea, that would warm him up a bit.

Mattie sat there in his kitchen, in an armchair pulled up close to the stove. He had his coat on, his cap on. He wore his thickest sweater over a thinner one; he had three pairs of socks on so it was a struggle to get his feet into his boots. Such a shame he’d lost his gloves; he knew he should have bought some more, instead of treating himself to that cake a few weeks ago. Then, he’d wanted the cake, but now he found himself wishing more than anything that he’d opted for the gloves. Instead he crossed his arms, tucked his hands underneath his elbows and tried to warm up his fingers and hands that way.

There was nothing on the TV. The gales that had come in with the storm must have taken down the aerial from off of his roof. The radio didn’t want to tune in properly, either. There were stations there, up and running, but so crackly it was hardly worth listening to. Mattie had nothing to do but sit by the stove and think. The memories were not much comfort.

It was his own fault that he was alone. He chose it. Eileen had made it very clear how much she adored him, had stuck around for years waiting for him to propose. He had taken her out on dates, had gone to her when he needed someone to talk to, but he had never been prepared to make the commitment. He wanted his freedom, did not want to have to compromise with anybody else. Mattie had been too set in his ways to change.

The strange thing was that there had never been anyone else he had felt so comfortable with. He knew that he could trust Eileen, that she would always be there for him. It had to come though, he should have seen it; her family putting on the pressure, suggesting that she sold up and moved miles away to be nearer to them. She’d even told him; given him a final chance to say he loved her, to ask her to be his wife. Mattie knew if he had of asked, she would have stayed; but he had kept his silence.

He had been a fool and had not wanted to commit to sharing his life with her. Now he was all alone. No family, no close friends, not even a pet, since Jacko passed away. Mattie could not avoid the fact that it was all his own fault. A solitary tear escaped his eye as he allowed himself, for just a moment, to dwell on what might have been. Too late now!

Leaning forward, carefully opening the door to the stove, Mattie placed another lump of coal, another small log, on top of the flames. Getting up to fetch a blanket, a pillow for his head, the old man settled himself back into his chair and fell asleep.


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