The Passing


© Sarah Potter

Snowing again.

Tony took another sip of his bourbon. Perfect night for getting quietly potted.

His cat Merlin rubbed against his ankle and meowed.

“Hello, pretty one.” He took the cue and sat in his chair in the living room. Merlin immediately hopped up onto his lap and exposed his tummy for scratches.

“I’m glad I have you right now.”

Tony took another drink and felt the buzz increasing.

He’d buried both of his parents yesterday. They were both in their eighties and suffered so much near the end. Thank God his wife would be coming home from work soon.

Written for the 24 February 2017 edition of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioners photo writing challenge.

The goal is to use the photo prompt above to write a complete piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. Mine is exactly 100.

You can find other stories written based on the prompt at

This story has some slight basis in fact. Without going into too many details, my parents are declining rapidly and the end for both of them may be nearer than I wanted. It’s a good time to consider who we leave behind and who is yet with us.


49 thoughts on “The Passing

  1. Sorry to here this is part based in fact, James. It’s tough to see those you love decline and so quickly. I’ve been there myself, so I feel for you. You did such a great job here, drawing us into that small nest of domesticity before sharing why the character needs his comforts so badly. Brilliantly done


    • Life hurts but it also heals. My parents are approaching the end of their lifetimes, but I’ve got two wonderful grandchildren to play with. Someday I’ll pass and my children will be grandparents. As Kurt Vonnegut Jr. famously said in his novel “Slaughterhouse Five,” “So it goes.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Never easy burying our parents, but both at the same time? (Actually, my grandparents died 10 days apart, so we did hold a joint funeral…) Thank goodness he has a wife to keep him comfort (over and above the cat and bourbon)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s impossible to return to a routine after a tragedy. I wondered a bit about his wife as well, having to return to work after burying her in-laws and not being home to mourn alongside her husband.


    • I imagined her working at a hospital and not being able to set aside certain responsibilities. Also, I needed her to be gone so the reveal at the end was that she was returning. I probably could have done that better.


  4. I’m sorry about your parents getting frail, James. When people close to you grow old, it brings our own mortality into sharp focus. Cats and dogs are a wonderful comfort. They always seem to sense when you need them to attend to you!


  5. Lost both of my parents in the last 10 years, so I can definitely relate. Dad was 95 and Mom 93. Both had lived full lives and been in good health most the time (Dad developed dementia toward the end). Grieving (at least for me) involves some quiet, private time to reflect. Good post, James.


  6. Your story reminds me of the old poem:
    Backwards, turn backwards, oh time, in your flight, and make me a child again just for tonight; Mother, come back from the echoless shore…
    Once they’re gone you think of all the things you wanted to ask them.


  7. My sympathies for your impending loss – it’s a long drawn out grieving when parents near their end. Until I read you personal comment I wondered whether your character had hastened the end of his own parents, but perhaps not.


    • Not sure how impeding it is at the moment, Elizabeth. At first, the news sounded pretty grim, but I got a call from Mom and Dad today. She’s been moved into rehab where she’s expected to undergo about four weeks of physical therapy. Not sure what shape she’ll be in at the end of that time or what the test results will be on my Dad, but I’ll progress one day at a time and see.



  8. Poor guy, that would be really difficult for him to experience with his parents and to lose them both at the same time. I’m glad he has the cat, pets are a lot of help and hopefully is wife isn’t long. Very vivid.


  9. Cats have a way of knowing when one needs soothing.
    A difficult things to accept … aging parents declining and death. One consolation is that we can see the pain they are feeling all through their bodies and are grateful when they’re no longer in that pain. Nicely expressed ….
    Isadora 😎


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