Friday Fictioneers – Last Rites

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Treestump 180131

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Last Rites

“Why does Grandfather Tree have to be chopped down, Mom?”

“It’s a sick tree, Chuck. It will die soon. If we left it, other trees would get sick too.”

“Poor tree. Does it know it’s sick, Mom?”

“I don’t know, poppet. Do you think trees feel things?”

Chuck stuffed his fingers in his mouth and nodded his head vigorously. Dad raised the chain saw.

“Wait a minute,” yelled Chuck, and pelted up the grassy slope to the house. A short while later he was back with Christmas decorations that he hung on the doomed tree.

“Bye-bye, Grandfather Tree. We’re sorry.”

84 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Last Rites

  1. I love your portrayal of the child’s sweet innocence, his uncontaminated feeling heart, hua unadulterated love for the grandfather tree.
    A very touching story, Penny. Beautifully done, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw bless Chuck, so sweet. I was imagining awful things once you mentioned a chainsaw (I blame Jennifer Kennedy – I was just reading her creepy story from last week- ha!). Nice to have a pleasant ending in contrast 😃

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Anna
      Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment.
      But – oops! – that chainsaw! I shouldn’t have mentioned a chainsaw! I know perfectly well that if I show my readers a knife they’ll imagine the blood!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anie
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I have to accept that the underlying metaphor didn’t work at all. I needed to be much more explicit.
      I hoped that people would realise that Chuck felt like Grandfather Tree was a person. How would we feel if an elderly relative was to receive euthanasia for an incurable condition? Maybe we’d try to find ways of celebrating their life as they passed away. I’d better write a story about it. (Oh dear. Another one on my list of stories that I really should write!)
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Penny thank you for your explanation. Oh no, then I automatically understood the metaphor. Of course, Chuck felt the loss of the tree like that of a human being. I think kids do not make a big difference if it’s animals, people or plants that they loved because they have not thought about death yet and only “understand” that they are not there anymore. Celebrating the life of a deceased would be a nice approach, unfortunately, the feeling of sadness predominates here, because we have lost a person ….: (

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    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and for your comment which is full of insight. I think, as you suggest, the sight of the tree being felled will stay with Chuck all his life. It will always be a metaphor in his mind for death and parting. But kids are very resilient. By decorating the tree, Chuck really feels he’s done something that will make the tree feel better about being felled, and that comforts him greatly.
      I have to accept, though, that my underlying metaphor didn’t work at all. I needed to be much more explicit.
      I hoped that people would realise that Chuck felt like Grandfather Tree was a person. How would we feel if an elderly relative was to receive euthanasia for an incurable condition? Maybe we’d try to find ways of celebrating their life as they passed away. I’d better write a story about it. (Oh dear. Another one on my list of stories that I really should write!)
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s hard to discuss such a difficult subject in so few words, Penny, but I think you did hint at that in calliing it Grandfather Tree and the clear suggestion Chuck saw it as a feeling, living thing. Still, tragic and well written

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Varad
      Thank you for reading and for your nice comment. Chuck’s mom was careful not to tell him that trees don’t have feelings; instead, she asked him what he thought – and then went with that as far as decorating the tree was concerned. I agree with you that young kids like Chuck need to discover such things in their own time.
      All the best
      Penny

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  3. Maybe I was an over-imaginative child, but to me, all tree had personality. They whispered among themselves, sharing tree secrets and commenting to their resident squirrels and birds. I wish I still had that kind of fantasy, but life does tend to take over. . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree that we need compassionate men in the world. From what you write, and the comments you make, I suspect that you yourself are such a man, and that makes me glad.
      With best wishes
      Penny

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  4. You have touched on a difficult topic in such a simply written story. The Grandfather Tree hinted at the euthanasia theme. I think legalizing it brings many challenges though it’s always done at the request of the suffering. And not his family members, I hope. That said I’m not for euthanasia and I know many will disagree with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you for reading, and for commenting so thoughtfully and perceptively. I’m sure you’re right that legalising euthanasia brings many challenges. Like you, I don’t support euthanasia, but it must be agony for that small number of cases who want it, and for their families.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A very complex subject Penny and a thought provoking one. What if the father was cutting off the tree just because it was in the way and they stood to gain much more by clearing up the space it as occupying and that were hiding the reality, lying to their child? That’s the problem with euthanasia too isnt it? I do wish the tricky issues around euthanasia could be sorted out – so much of unnecessary suffering could be alleviated at the stroke of a signature. I know I would opt for it rather than be a cause for distress to my family. Well at least that is what I think so, one never knows how one would react when it comes to the crunch – another tricky issue with euthanasia. Well done Penny for stirring up a debate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. Admitting that there are many complex reasons for and against euthanasia, and that any analogy is over-simplistic, it seemed relevant to ask “How would it seem to a child?” What would we tell a little boy like Chuck if his grandfather had chosen euthanasia in preference to prolonged agony? I have heard it said that suicide doesn’t end the pain – it just moves it to other people. It would be very difficult to arrange euthanasia so that it didn’t leave a burden of pain and guilt for the survivors.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Over here in India we have the concept of moksha or freedom from the cycle of life and death as the ultimate goal of any soul. And the Jains have the practice of Santhara where an elderly but otherwise healthy person giving up on food and water to join with the Maker. It is a huge event in the community and people flock to pay respects and take blessings. Just thought of sharing another perspective

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dahlia
      Thank you for sharing the information about moksha and Santhara. They’re very interesting and important insights. I shall look up more information about them, partly because I’m a writer and the better I understand people the better I’ll write, but more because such knowledge will potentially help me to live a worthwhile life and eventually make a worthwhile death.
      With grateful thanks and best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  6. enjoyed the fiction and the comments – well the ones i was able to read (so many to soak up – woo hoo) but sometimes the comments make a post come alive and that is what i felt here – and wondering what kind of Christmas decor adorned the doomed tree….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. To me, “Grandfather tree” tells us right off the bat that the tree is very special to Chuck. His act of adorning the tree with Christmas decorations showed me his innocence but also a great compassion that warmed my heart. I loved this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Subroto
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, dying humanely and with dignity is what we all want for ourselves and those we love. I’m sure there are as many answers to that as there are families. I think Dahlia made some excellent suggestions in her comments above.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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