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 Pexels.com.

Dog Gone

We struggled over the past few months with the diminishing quality of life that our beloved dog was experiencing. Some days were okay, many were not. She spent much of each day sleeping, getting up only when she needed to go out to take care of business or to eat. And we often had to feed her by hand.

When she was up and around, she had difficulty walking, her hind legs unable to keep her backside from collapsing into an awkward sitting position.

Was she in a lot pain? Who knows? Like most dogs are, she was stoic. And if she was in pain, she never cried out or whimpered. We couldn’t ask her how she was feeling and she couldn’t tell us. Not in a way we could definitively understand. And not in a way that could give us any degree of certainty.

That’s what made our decision so difficult. Was it the right time? Were we prematurely taking away days, weeks, or even months from her life?

We spoke with our veterinarian, who came to our house yesterday afternoon. She confirmed that it was, indeed, time.

I suppose we’ll always second guess our decision, always feel a sense of guilt. But she’s gone now and we are heartbroken.

We miss her.

Friday Fictioneers — Guilt Trip

694B803F-F277-496A-B4E4-7C02AF7F48A9It was supposed to be a simple matter. Kidnap a little rich girl, collect the large ransom, and let her go. No harm done. A happy ending for all. He’d have money, a mere a drop in the bucket for her wealthy parents, and the girl would be back safe at home.

But the scared little girl ran from him, fell off a bridge, and broke her neck. He buried her under the bridge, put rocks on the top of the small grave, and then, unable to cope with his guilt, drowned himself in the shallow stream beneath the bridge.

(100 words)


Written for the Friday Fictioneers prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Photo credit: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Saturday Mix Opposing Forces — Summer Solstice

2F04793F-CD0F-48C7-A437-C28FE15D867F“Permit me to introduce you to our host,” my coworker, Clyde, said. “Andrew, I’d like you to meet Mr. Archibald Benedict. Archie hosts this party every year around this time to celebrate the arrival of the summer solstice.”

I put out my right hand to shake hands with Mr. Benedict, but he did not offer me his hand in return. “Do you know what the summer solstice is, boy?” Mr. Benedict said to me, which caught me a little off guard because he isn’t that much older than me.

“Yes, I do,” I said. “The summer solstice occurs when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky and it is the day with the longest period of daylight. Some suggest that it marks the kickoff of the summer season, but I think most people think of Memorial Day as the real start of summer.”

Mr. Benedict looked at me for a moment and then abruptly turned around and walked away. I gave Clyde a questioning look. “Did I say something wrong?” I asked.

“No,” Clyde said, “but you’re a first time visitor and he can be a little standoffish to people he doesn’t know well.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It seems like there’s something more to it than that, Clyde.”

“Well,” Clyde said, “there’s a rumor that his parents met at a summer solstice party at Stonehenge and that he was conceived that night. But his mother died giving birth to him nine months later.”

“That’s interesting but it still doesn’t explain his behavior towards me earlier tonight,” I said. “What am I missing?”

“Again, it’s just rumor,” Clyde responded. “You see, Archie had always wanted to go to Stonehenge for the summer solstice as a way to try to make a cosmic connection with the mother he never knew. But his father forbid him from ever going there because he blamed Archie for his mother’s death.”

“That’s some heavy shit to lay on a kid,” I said.

“And, of course, Archie never wants to celebrate his actual birthday because of how guilty he feels about her dying while giving birth to him. So he always throws these parties at his home to celebrate the anniversary of his conception. Unfortunately, he’s never in a particularly jovial mood at these events. So don’t take it personally, okay?”


Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Saturday Mix, where we are supposed to two pairs of opposing words in our posts. The words are (1) “permit” and “forbid,” and (2) “visitor” and “host.”