MLMM Photo Challenge — What’s Left

The fire marshall knocked on Caryn’s front door. When she opened it, he handed her a small cardboard box. “I’m sorry for you loss, Miss Kavanaugh,” he said. “I know it’s not much, but this is all we could salvage from your parents’ home.

Indeed, it definitely wasn’t much. There was her father’s old 35 mm camera, a tiny toy globe he kept on his desk, a blank tape from his portable dictating recorder, and a Matchbook model of an old VW bus that he told her was just like the one he had when he was in college. Strangely, there were three watercolor paintings by her mother that her father must have kept in his desk.

Caryn took each of the salvaged items out of the box and laid them out on the marble floor of the foyer in her house. She looked down at the strange assortment at her feet. She couldn’t wrap her head around how this small collection of random items was all that remained of her parents’ lives. Sure, she had her memories, but their lives, their home, and all of their other possessions were gone.

Her eyes welled up and guilt overwhelmed her. She had planned to have their 120 year old house updated with new wiring and plumbing last year, but her parents, who were in their seventies, resisted. They didn’t want to have strangers working inside their home during the pandemic. But now that they had both received their second vaccination last week, they finally agreed to let her bring in an electrician and a plumber.

Caryn meant to make arrangements last week, but she just didn’t get around to it. She’d waited this long, what would another week or two matter? Now, after everything was destroyed by the fire caused by an electrical short, it was too late, and all that remained were those seven random items spread out at her feet.

Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Photo credit: fotografierende on

16 thoughts on “MLMM Photo Challenge — What’s Left

  1. jilldennison April 7, 2021 / 7:39 pm

    Such a sad story, and so believable. Good writing … you had me near tears.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 7, 2021 / 10:04 pm

      I didn’t intend for it to be so sad, but the more I looked at the photo, the words just started to flow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave Williams April 8, 2021 / 2:50 am

    A powerful loss. To me, the story was made more powerful because you set it in this pandemic. Possibly, Caryn hadn’t visited her parents in a while out of caution for Covid. And the details of the items seems to increase her loss … since they’re the only things to have survived.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 8, 2021 / 9:25 am

      Thanks. This was a hard one for me to write.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. bushboy April 8, 2021 / 4:27 am

    A well written but sad tale Fandango 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cara Hartley April 8, 2021 / 3:55 pm

    My son and I live in an old house that was built in 1910. It still needs a lot of work, but we did have the wiring and plumbing upgraded before moving in back in September 2019.
    ~cie from poetry of the netherworld~

    Liked by 2 people

  5. leigha66 April 11, 2021 / 8:24 pm

    That is on my list of things to do to the house… it is old wiring and a hundred year old house. I was actually surprised I didn’t have to do so to get the insurance switched to my name, but maybe because it was an inheritance they let it go.

    Liked by 2 people

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