Login   Sign Up 


The Decisoin

by carolf 

Posted: 01 March 2005
Word Count: 1078
Summary: short story

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

The Decision

The light filtered through the nearly closed curtains, spilling into the bedroom. Paul unwillingly opened his eyes, knowing that he would not return to sleep and so the day had begun. He sat up slightly and turned to view the clock positioned on the chest of drawers, far enough away from the bed to force him to leave its warmth and comfort each weekday morning to switch off the alarm. The red digital numbers showed 06.12, twenty eight minutes before the cheery voice of the radio presenter shattered the silence and formally marked the start of another working day.

He slumped back onto the still warm pillow and sighed heavily. The last remnants of his breath turned into a cough. Once started the cough took on a life of its own, coming faster and louder, forcing him into a semi upright position and stealing the air from his lungs. He inhaled deeply and forced a final cough out from his chest. This was accompanied by a small globule of phlegm that flew from his lips and landed silently on the cream and blue quilt cover. Paul eyed the green mucous with disgust, not sure if he would have preferred for it to remain, coagulating, in his lungs, slowly slowly breaking down his ability to breathe normally, or lying in its embryonic state on the quilt. He resumed his position on the pillow and stared at the ceiling, reflecting on his decision of the previous evening, a huge and, if he were willing to admit it, frightening decision that only he could make. A gentle cough rose through his chest and exited his mouth softly.

Paul thought of the people who would be pleased that he had made the decision, of those whose support he knew he could count on. Thinking of his partner, Sally, brought a smile to his lips and he felt the familiar warm glow in the pit of his stomach that went with the thought of her. Lying in their shared bed and smelling her scent, he a stirring to his groin. Sally would be ecstatic with his decision. She wanted to start a family within the next year and during their talks on parenting and what they should and shouldn’t do, one of the important things they both agreed on was leading by example. He put his arm out to touch the pillow where her head would lay later today. She was rota’d for the night shift on the paediatric ward this week and had left for work late the previous evening. Sally did not know of his decision, made with finality at 10.45pm last night, and as he stared at the ceiling a smile played on his lips. Would he tell her his decision, or wait until she became aware of what he had done. Paul wondered how long it would take for her to realise. His smile widened as he chose his course of action - lets see how quickly she notices. With a satisfied nod to the lightshade on the ceiling Paul’s thoughts moved to his mum. Although he did not see her regularly, when they visited she always voiced her disapproval, commenting on his health and berating him for the amount of money he was wasting. He hated to admit that she was right, but she was. His response was always non-committal, an undecipherable grunt of acknowledgement without agreement. He always resisted the temptation of comparing himself to his father and commenting on how he never remembered her moaning at him. Mum hated it when he talked of his father in anything but happy memories, even all these years after his death.
A mental image of his father came forward, an image of him before the illness set in, a tall dark haired man with warm eyes. Paul remembered him fondly, and wished for more than the millionth time that his dad had been healthy, or that a suitable donor had been found before his kidneys stopped functioning completely. He thought ironically of how that would mean someone else dying for his dad to have lived, and that their family would feel as he did, but that was the nature of people. ‘We are all selfish for our own purposes’ Paul said out loud to the lightshade. He considered his own selfishness till now, nodding silently to himself. This decision was for the best.

With a wry smile he thought of Mark, his manager in work. Boy, would he be happy at his decision. He could almost see the look of glee on Mark’s face as he totted up the amount of extra time he would be at his desk for. Not that he was work-shy. Paul often worked late, unpaid, especially when Sally was on an evening shift. In a way it had compensated for the time he was missing during his official working hours. ‘Maybe I can negotiate paid overtime’ . The thought cheered him up.

Paul’s mind switched to the people who may not be so supportive of his decision. Pete and Duncan in work would be out to sabotage his efforts and he knew that he would have to avoid them for the first few days when his willpower would be battling with his desire. His after-work trips to City Slickers Wine Bar with the pair would be put on hold until his resolve was ready to be tested. The feelings of cheer brought about by potential paid overtime were quickly erased.

His eyes moved from the ceiling back to the clock on the chest of drawers. The luminous hands showed 06.28, two minutes to go. Paul looked down at the quilt cover. Even though the phlegm had dried and was indistinguishable against the delicate pattern, he knew the first thing he would do on rising was change the cover, a farcical ten minutes for him to struggle into the fresh cover with the quilt and try and extract himself alone, the first challenge of his day.

With a deep breath Paul threw back the quilt and swung his legs out of the bed. He stood up and stretched in front of the wardrobe mirror. He looked at his profile to determine if his decision had any immediate effect on his appearance. He decided not. As the alarm burst into life, Paul moved towards the chest of drawers to turn down the volume. It was official, his first day as a non-smoker had begun.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

paul53 [for I am he] at 13:42 on 01 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Carol and welcome to WW.
Very brave to put a "Go on! I can take it!" as a self-confessed new writer. Shield up!
This piece shows a great deal of promise, but is a bit over-heavy in detail - 1,000 words and he's just about to get up, although certains snippets of info have been inserted.
Join a group as soon as poss to get regular feedback from fellow writers and group host.
Careful with those books on how to write. You may spend the next six months trying to ape someone else's style rather than find your own. Best way to learn to write is to write and read as many different authors as you can.

bjlangley at 13:45 on 01 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Carol, welcome to the site. Early on in this piece I was very curious as to what the decision was that he had made, but I did guess at the point of visiting the mother. The rest of the story then went on to confirm this for me, and it's a well controlled piece in this sense.

I think I picked up on a missing word here: "he a stirring to his groin"

All the best,


Nell at 12:52 on 02 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Carol, welcome to WriteWords. This is an interesting idea - we know there's a decision and read to the end to find out what that is, looking for clues along the way. They're all there too, although the end still came as a surprise. But as Paul said there's a lot of detail in this and you really don't need all of it. The writing itself could be tightened up too. A revealing exercise is to imagine an editor has told you s/he wants to publish the piece as flash fiction and to cut it by at least a third. Go though tightening sentences, losing spare adjectives and adverbs and look at those places where you may have said the same thing twice in a slightly different way.

Eg: He slumped back onto the still warm pillow and sighed heavily. The last remnants of his breath turned into a cough.

This could be condensed to something like: He slumped back onto the pillow as the remnants of a sigh became a cough.

Reading and commenting on others' work is the quickest way I know to improve one's own writing, as well as looking at the comments others have made on those pieces, and of course read as much and as widely as you can and practise your writing - daily if possible, even if it's just a para or two without a story in mind.

The structure of this particular story demonstrates 'showing not telling' rather well, as there'd be no story if we knew what the decision was at the beginning. Write on!


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .