Author: Rick R. Reed
Pages/Word Count: 17 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Christmas Eve should be a night filled with magic and love. But for Anderson, down on his luck and homeless in Chicago’s frigid chill, it’s a fight for survival. Whether he’s sleeping on the el, or holed up in an abandoned car, all he really has are his memories to keep him warm: memories of a time when he loved a man named Welk and the world was perfect. When Anderson finds a book of discarded matches on the sidewalk, he pockets them. Later, trying to keep the cold at bay hunkered down in a church entryway, Anderson discovers the matches are the key to bringing his memories of Welk, happiness, and security to life. Within their flames, visions dance and perhaps a reunion with the man he loved most.
Review: Hans Christian Anderson scribed some of the most beautiful, and without a doubt, some of the most bittersweet fairy tales in literature. From The Little Mermaid to The Steadfast Tin Soldier to The Little Match Girl, Anderson depicts love through sacrifice, through faith, and through an idea of Heaven depicted in the light of comfort for a little girl on a bitterly cold New Year’s Eve, as she lights match after match to illuminate the vision of her beloved grandmother who’s there to watch over and guide the girl to the end of her journey.
Rick R. Reed has given The Little Match Girl a modern day interpretation in his short story Matches, the tale of a man, Anderson (fittingly enough), who is as down on his luck as any man has ever been. This story explores, in brief but enlightening detail, Anderson’s losses, the hardships of his day-to-day existence, but perhaps most tellingly, this story illustrates the plight of the homeless and the way society looks down upon, if not outright ignores, the men and women whom fate and circumstance have elected to burden, as we make assumptions about how these people came to be where they are and cast judgment upon them as though the cure for them is simply a willingness to work.
In just seventeen pages, Reed touches the mind, the heart, and the conscience, not an easy thing to do in such a limited word count, and even goes so far, in the end, to pull a tear or two from the reader. This is not a holiday story of sugarplums and stockings hung by the chimney. This is a holiday story that reminds us all of our blessings and, perhaps, reminds us that those in need of kindness and compassion are the reason for the season.
Every bit as poignant as the tale from which its premise is borrowed, Matches is a small gem of a story.
You can buy Matches here: