General Flash Fiction posted May 1, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
She had the gift of prayer

Mattie Rose

by forestport12

Mattie Rose sat on her front porch sipping sun made iced tea. She didn't know when the next prayer-less soul would wander in from the cotton fields that surrounded her home. They'd often come to her ramshackle house in the delta dawn and all day long, until the sun set fire in the west. The porch swing, that held her five hundred pound frame and folds of flesh, creaked and groaned whenever she planted her feet down like giant pillars. She had the porch steps for an altar, and her congregation was the world.

It was all because Mattie had God's ear. She was the daughter of a Church of God preacher, but she got too big to leave her own home and attend services. That didn't stop Mattie from praying. And when she prayed--miracles happened. Truth was, the world around her had forgot how to pray, and so they'd come to Mattie. Most people had good reason for a miracle, but some, they had selfish motives, like wanting to win the lottery or find buried treasure. But Mattie knew how to get rid of the misfits, as if they were gnats in her face. She'd just swat them away with the fat of her hand. Sometimes, there were bunches of cars along a narrow strip of road meant only for the width of a tractor, but every now and then, there would be a solitary soul wandering the fields in the dark. Then, there was one special night when the moon glowed yellow and round, as if God himself switched on a nightlight.

For some reason Mattie hadn't the strength to raise herself that evening. She appeared to be stuck on that bench and feared her housekeeper would be the first to find her half-froze by morning. Then Rose spotted the young stranger, wearing a white sport coat and a top hat that reflected from the moon.

The porch swing creaked every time Mattie tried to rise. And the floorboards groaned from the pressure. "Hey there," she said. "Stranger. Come on up here, and I will hear you're prayer. Don't be shy. I may look like a beached whale, but I sure ain't swallowed no body."

There was no answer from the shimmering field, as if the stranger was contemplating his next move.

Mattie tried again to shove her large frame from the porch swing, but it was no use. She felt a cold sweat on her forehead, and a shiver ran down her spine. "Good Lord might bless your kindness if you helped me git inside before I catch a death of cold."

He turned sidelong.

"You look familiar," she said. "You grow up round here?"

He came toward her. "It's a small world, Rose."

"Yes sir, the good Lord owns it all."

His shoes seemed to skirt the earth, and his hazel eyes shined as if dipped in crystal.

"Let's have your request, then," she said, as he drew near.

"Why Miss Rose, don't you know why I'm here?"

She was at a loss for words.

He skipped up the steps and came in under the awning. He tipped his hat, revealing healthy dark swirls of hair. "Poor Sweet Rose. All these years until today, you never made a prayer request for yourself."

Her mouth gaped open. "It's not possible."

He was the perfect gentleman, as he held his hat in front of him and spoke. "Now Rose, we both know, with God, all things are possible."

She felt wet, hot tears roll down her fat, red cheeks. "Tommy. Is that really you?"

"Remember when we would run together and fetch cattails down by the river. We'd pretend to puff em' like fat cigars and lay on our back, watchin' the jet trails in the sky, wonderin' how big God was."

Mattie had a double chin, but it was trembling. "You were my one true love. You went into the river, but I couldn't swim. I couldn't save you."

"I'm here now, Rose, dry as a bone. Good Lord made me look like I'm in my twenties, but I do recall, my first and only love."

"Now, I remember. I asked the Lord for someone to love. I've been so lonely. I told him, I didn't want to be lonely no more."

"You won't be lonely anymore Rose. Just take my hand."

She took his hand, and with each step she felt lighter until they disappeared beneath that waxen moon.

The next day, her housekeeper found Mattie Rose, lifeless on her front porch. But the Creole woman knew that what remained of Rose, was only the wardrobe of her flesh.

Flash Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


766 words. Bib thanks to Mazart. The absoulute perfect picture for this story.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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