Friday, April 22, 2011


There was not enough. Never enough.
An extra box of Pop Tarts became an extra case. A second pair of shoes at the same price became a stockroom in her closet. A second hammer, another set of spare tires, a set of guest towels became, over time, a mountain of stuff, rotting in piles across her lawn. Her home became a prison, so encumbered with THINGS that she could find no more room for herself. Or for Frank, who finally left when his pillow, his one sacrosanct spot of his own, disappeared beneath a down comforter, forever entombed in plastic wrap, a bargain so good she couldn’t pass it up.
She stood in front of the stove, boxes pushing at her from all sides, forgotten dusty bouquets of plastic flowers threatening to topple onto her at any moment.
She wrinkled her nose at the smell of the gas. She thought of last Sunday’s sermon, about greed, about the useless accumulation of things, about the better life that waited for her somewhere else.
She selected a matchbook from the overflowing ceramic bowl on what used to be her kitchen counter. “Antonio’s Pizza” read the matchbook cover. Frank took her there the night after he won a bowling trophy, a trophy that was now irretrievably buried in the detritus of her existence, in the neverending pile of goods she’d surrounded herself with.
Give away all you have. Give it away to the poor. She knew that’s what Jesus would want.
But that would be too hard.
She struck the match.
Written for Leah Petersen's 5 Minute Fiction challenge.


Steve Green said...

Oh dear, there are actually people who buy continuously, compulsively, and being unable to stop themselves.

The great ending takes the solution to the extreme.

Chuck Allen said...

Nice story, Neil! I love the way you set up the setting and then burnt it all up. :)