Friday Fiction: Feeding the Fire

I’m up late (early?) again, and found myself considering my entertainment options, so here I am.

This may or may not be the start of a new feature on this blog called Friday Fiction. The idea is for me to crank out at least one new short story a week, to hone my writing skills. I figure that if I make it a habit, it’ll be more effective. So here’s the first installment of Friday Fiction, alliteratively titled “Feeding the Fire.” Hope you enjoy it.

He sat in an easy chair, contemplating the universe as filtered through a glass of scotch on the rocks.

So many lost opportunities in my life, he thought to himself. I could have had a career in the military. I could have gone to school. I could have been somebody.

He knocked back the scotch, got up, refreshed his drink and sat back down in the spot he left by the fireplace. There were a few flickers of dancing orange flame, but the fire was burning down to embers. It was the only light in the dimming room.

The dying fire was a focal point for his frustrations with life. What could he have become? How much more grand could his life have been without the job struggles, the financial failures, the hesitant starts and stops in his journey.

He was wracked with guilt about what could have been and filled with fear about what was to come.

Would he still be sitting by the fire, in that chair, drinking the same single malt ten, twenty, thirty years in the future? Would he be in a home somewhere? Would he be homeless, struggling to eat while dealing with some ravaging disease that he couldn’t afford to treat or prevent?

It’s late, he thought to himself. I should get some sleep.

But how could he sleep with such questions occupying his thoughts?

So many times, he considered knocking back the scotch until he fell asleep in the chair, highball glass dropped on the floor and half a shot of liquor spilled among the melting ice cubes, snoring his troubles away. It would be so easy to drink to forget.

It seemed that in the middle of the night, his prospects and his future was dying with the speed of the fire on the hearth.

He entertained the thought of putting another log on and stoking the fire again, but what would that achieve? It’s a lost cause, he concluded, before taking another slow sip of the Glenfiddich. It was expensive, and he wouldn’t dare have purchased it for himself. It was a holiday gift, in thanks for a successful project at work.

He sat for a time, just staring into the flickering flames and feeling the chill start to enter the room. The fire had nearly burnt itself out.

Then he had an epiphany as he gazed into the dying light.

The fire was a metaphor for his passion. Left untended, it would quickly burn itself out using all available resources. It needed constant refueling, and so did his passions in life. With the proper replenishment, it could burn indefinitely.

He permitted himself a half-smile, finished the rest of the whisky, then got up from his lounger. He walked down the hall and opened the first door on the left. It was dimly lit by the twinkling stars projected on the ceiling. He very softly kissed his sleeping four-year-old daughter on her cheek, then silently crept out of the room before she could wake.

He entered the master bedroom further down the hall and repeated the process with his wife. She was a lighter sleeper, and she stirred enough to mumble a sweet nothing to her husband before slipping back into slumber. He went around to his side of the bed, picked up his messenger bag, then crept back to the living room.

He put another log on the fire and poked the embers so the new log would alight and start to burn. Presently it did so, filling the room with both warmth and light.

He refilled his drink and rolled a laptop desk to the easy chair pulling his Macbook out of the messenger bag. He booted it up and opened Pages before cracking his knuckles in anticipation.

Feed the fire, he thought to himself.

His fingers lightly touched the keyboard and he began to write.

“He sat in an easy chair, contemplating the universe as filtered through a glass of scotch on the rocks.”

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