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Some flash fiction, unedited, presented as it was written in a 15-minute timeframe

The prompt: "A woman speaks to Death"

· Flash Fiction


Natalie had never been to a funeral before her own.

“Are they all this mundane?” she wondered. She stood — no, well, occupied space — in the center of the room. But she was also on the ceiling. Of the ceiling. And the room in its entirety.

It was tricky to grasp, yet it felt as natural as though there’d been no other state of being before it — of course she was herself and everything all at once. Hadn’t she always been?

She heard, felt, and was each side of the conversation about calzones happening somewhere vaguely to the left, relative to the casket at the head of the funeral hall.

“Well, Zappolini’s was closed — apparently the mother is in the hospital, you know, Brenda Baker? Baker of course is her married name, her maiden name was Zappolini, I always found that funny. Well, anyway, so she’s in the hospital, some minor surgery thing, and the daughter is out of state, and the son, remember him? The one with that horrible electric blue truck and the, you know, fake…” Natalie’s aunt cupped her hands upward, hefting invisible testicles.

She cast a look around and mouthed balls.

“…you know what I mean? Dangling from the tow hitch. Anyway, long story short, he was in a hit-and-run, no one can track him down, that poor family…”

“Terrible,” chimed Natalie’s other aunt, youngest of the six siblings. “So we’re stuck with Caparello’s. Alright, okay, fine. I mean, they’re fine, but I’m just really not a fan of their sauce.”

“I know, right? What sauce? Barely any! I would’ve made them myself, but you know with Mark driving all the way out to Johnston every day now that they’re pouring the foundation for that new house, you know, the rental off of Route 6?”

“Right, right. So we’re stuck with the sauce!” The youngest shrugged, whaddayagonnado. “Not that anyone was expecting you’d make anything—“

“No, no, it’s just that mine are better, and if I’d had had the time—“

“You would’ve.”


A conversation Natalie had heard a thousand times at a thousand parties in fast, thick New England accents, Italian hand gestures conducting an orchestra of gossip. She was every word unfolding, exactly as they’d unfolded a thousand times before.

Natalie shifted her focus across the hall — an act of simply having been there all along, she discovered. Or, rather, had always known.

Here, the conversation followed the same formula, dropping gs and turning rs into ahs, this one about the muffler shortage (“the mufflah shahdidge”) at her step-father’s auto services center. Over there — where Natalie found she’d always been, too — her uncles and a few of her cousins stood chatting about the intraoffice politics of the Connecticut police force, where three of them worked.

“It’s just… less talk about me than I would’ve expected,” Natalie confessed. There was no shame in it. She was every perspective, and understood theirs as well as her own.

Death gave a small smile — it felt to Natalie like a smile, anyway, though she could perceive nothing in the deep in the dark of the cloak hood.

“You are one of many billions to express the same notion, many billions of times,” Death said. No mouth moved in that hooded void, no disembodied voice made the funeralgoers jump, but Death spoke all the same, and Natalie heard.

“Have I been here…” Natalie stopped, knowing the answer. She was, after all, everything now.

“Yes,” Death answered anyway. “You’ve said that before billions of times, too.”

“It’s odd,” Natalie began.

“Yes?” Death prompted.

“I know I’ve done all of this before. I know I’ve asked all of these questions before. But… not until…”

“Not until you ask them,” Death finished. “You have to do it first to have done it always, yes.”

“I just realized that as you were saying it.”


As easy as flicking the focus of a holographic card, swapping between two glittering images layered in foil, Natalie was in the car with her mother and best friend of eight years, John. Natalie’s numerous aunts and uncles had handled the funeral, and John was handling the driving, leaving Natalie’s mother with the singular responsibility of grieving.

Had fun with this flash fiction session. Might actually turn it into... something... someday... maybe...


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