Mattie's Shoes (Excerpt)

by T. C. Isbell

Why have I got all these damned shoes?

This closet is a reflection of my life. Sixty-eight years and I still find it hard to throw anything out. What a mess.

Mattie Johnson cleaned her studio apartment for the third time today, but wouldn't venture past the threshold of the walk-in closet. She stood on her tip-toes and stretched into the closet to push a box of musty Zane Gray paperbacks onto the top shelf just inside the door. Mattie glanced at the rack of dresses she hadn't worn since Rick left ten years ago. It's not that they wouldn't fit for she had retained the same trim figure since high school, but she didn't socialize any more, and the dresses were as out-dated as the shoes that lay piled on the floor. She flipped a pair of tattered red sneakers into the darkest corner of the closet. As they disappeared into the abyss, she wondered why she didn't just throw them away.

Someday I'll clean this mess. Someday.

But she knew it was a hollow commitment she never intended to keep. When she died the landlord could put all her junk into cardboard boxes and take them to the Goodwill or the dump. She didn't care, after all, she'd be dead and wouldn't need shoes.

As Mattie tugged on the knotted string hanging from the closet light and shut the door, a clump of snow slid of the roof and crashed to the ground just outside her window. Startled, she looked past yellowed wallpaper and the pictures of Elvis and Jesus to the window. Wet snow had been falling since early morning and blanketed most of the backyard. She had meant to rake the leaves that had fallen from the towering silver maple near the fence, but hadn't gotten around to it and now it was too late. By spring they would be compressed into a dense mat of slick, moldy mush, like papier-mache. Rick would have picked them up and burned them as soon as they fell.

He always said, "Do it today, 'cause you never know what tomorrow will bring." It was a rule he lived by and applied to everything. Except, now it was Mattie's rule and it didn't apply to the closet. No, definitely not the closet. Mattie turned away from the closet as the shrill whistle from her darkened teakettle spilled into the room. Steam coursed through the hole in the black plastic lid and water droplets skittered across the burner, hissing in protest as they evaporated. She moved the kettle from the burner and switched off the hotplate.

* * * End of excerpt * * *

Mattie's Shoes

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