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The Last Rite

January 12, 2012

Photo Prompt by Icy Sedgwick
Tears glistened in her eyes, obscuring the image before her. She swallowed the pain, trying to see the fractured light as stars instead of the truth rising to greet her.

How many times had she climbed these steps?

A lifetime of rites flashed through her mind.

Saints and sacraments. Confessions and candles.

This would be her final passage through those great doors. One last time for the woman who had taught her about love, about sacrifice, and about strength. The one who had taught her that faith conquers all.

Except this time.

No ancient rituals brought her back from the brink, or saved her from a single day of suffering.

This would be the last time she would taste the blood and the flesh. The last time she would kneel and be blessed. One more time for her.

Ashes to ashes.

Dust to dust.

Her love.

Her strength.

Her faith.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2012 11:51 AM

    Makes me wonder what’s happening to her. Is she dying and has one last trip to church?

  2. January 12, 2012 12:17 PM

    Eery and cryptic, nicely done.

  3. January 12, 2012 12:43 PM

    Losing her faith, I like that 🙂

  4. January 12, 2012 1:54 PM

    Ahh yes, I wasn’t sure at the start whether it she was dying, or someone else, but the sense of ambiguity kinda works – loss of faith / death parallels. The photo adds to the atmosphere too.

  5. January 12, 2012 2:03 PM

    Love the catholic anguish in this. She’s not losing her religion, she’s burying it. A great conceit, beautifully written.

  6. January 12, 2012 2:21 PM

    I can see why you’d give up your faith if you thought that your lifetime of devotion had come to naught.

    Beautifully told.

  7. Ian O'Neill permalink
    January 12, 2012 3:07 PM

    Nice. I was with you all the way. You captured a feeling that I’m sure a lot of people get and struggle with at the loss of a loved one. And, you did in such a short span. Well done!

  8. January 12, 2012 3:41 PM

    Splendid and short. I like the combined interment of both her love and her faith.

  9. January 12, 2012 4:01 PM

    Sounds like someone she loves is dying. Guess it made her lose faith huh?

  10. January 12, 2012 4:27 PM

    I dug this. In looking at Icy’s prompt I didn’t get a sense of sadness. After reading your piece, now I can’t help but not.

  11. January 12, 2012 6:04 PM

    I simply LOVE how someone can look at a photo and see it so differently. It’s increidble. I love the story this picture told you. 🙂

  12. January 12, 2012 7:54 PM

    There’s anger in her voice, yet the prose is so serene. I love the contrast.

  13. January 12, 2012 9:43 PM

    Seems like any faith she had was dead long before her mom. That seems like a happier ending, too, than that all-too-common silliness of losing faith because somebody died, like that never happens all the time. Really dug your alliteration in the fourth paragraph, and the callback to the sacraments in the last proper one.

  14. January 13, 2012 7:13 AM

    I know what that feels like!
    Well captured!

  15. January 13, 2012 8:24 AM

    Ah, such a pity. Burying faith just at the time when it might be most valuable.

    Loved it – an aching piece, start to finish.

  16. January 13, 2012 8:27 AM

    A lot of emotion packed in a very short space. Also a great example of “showing” rather than “telling.”

    My Friday the 13th Fictioneers piece (100 words) is at

  17. January 13, 2012 10:38 AM

    Beautifully descriptive… and mysterious – leaving much for the reader to speculate on. A good job Danni.

  18. January 13, 2012 10:53 AM

    Great idea – I’d never considered writing about a loss of faith before but it’s an important part of life. Your choice to omit the mother’s death was a good one but you needed to hint at it a touch more if you wanted the reader to pick up on it. Brave decision to open with a cliché – ‘tears glistened’ but I’m afraid it didn’t work for me.

    Good story and a great response to the prompt. Thanks for sharing.

  19. January 13, 2012 11:41 AM

    Hey Dani,
    I read it a few times to get all the details as it took me a little bit to get. It’s haunting, it has some catchy elements and as usual its wonderfully done.

  20. January 13, 2012 7:52 PM

    Ah I wondered too what was happening to her, then I saw you reply to Larry. It was a haunting and beautiful piece of writing Danni

  21. January 15, 2012 4:31 AM

    This carries quite an emotional punch for such a low word count.

  22. January 15, 2012 11:30 AM

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments. Although my faith is firmly in place, I know many who have struggled through this very thing. Icy’s photo caught me in a melancholy moment and this story burst forth. I’m glad you all enjoyed it.

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