The View from Down Here – Friday Fictioneers, February 2016

Copyright Sandra Crook

Copyright Sandra Crook

They’d arrived late, after a long drive.

“Would you,” asked the funeral director, “like to view the body?”

“No!” Ellie gasped, horrified.

“I would,” said David, grim-faced, ignoring his sister. “I’ve never been frightened of Dad, and I’m not going to start now he’s dead.”

Crushed, she lingered outside the chapel-of-rest.

Years passed.

“Would you like to say goodbye to your mother?” says the same man today.

Ellie’s guilt smoulders still.



David recoils.

The sands of time may have shifted, but the moral high ground remains firmly in place.

“God, no! I’m not one for gawping at the dead.”


Saying goodbye to friends and familiar places today, before we start our journey north again.  I’ll miss drifting off to sleep to sounds of waves breaking on the beach a few hundred yards away, but not waking up to the sound of refuse collectors loudly emptying the bins on the street outside at 2 in the morning, or the street-sweeper patrolling at dawn.  What is it about Spain and nocturnal utilities?  Thanks to Rochelle for using one of my photos this week, and for her unswerving commitment to Friday Fictioneers.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to The View from Down Here – Friday Fictioneers, February 2016

  1. Querida Sandra,

    I like the way you worked in sands of time without it being about the prompt. I for one prefer closed casket. No one ever looks like they did when they were alive. As always, your writing is wonderful. Well done.



    PS Perhaps those nocturnal Spaniards think that no one hears them at night. Maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ceayr says:

    Charming tale of hypocrisy and, perhaps, cowardice.
    Dad is one thing, mum something else entirely.
    I think you have captured the view of many men.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra says:

    I had something in there about grey hair on the first funeral, and white on the second but I had to let it go for the wordcount. So ‘sands of time’ was a bit less relevant. And the nocturnal Spaniards – so laid back they would never even register the noise they make. Besos!


  4. This speaks volumes about relationships with our parents. I’d love to know more about that family.
    Great second sentence, the way you’ve split the dialogue – it adds a sense of tension.


    • Sandra says:

      I think it says something about relationships between brothers and sisters too. Ellie might learn to wait until the received wisdom has been delivered. Because it’s always going to be different from her take.:)


  5. Oh, I love how you played this. One guided by guilt, the other by remorse.


  6. I’ve always been used to going to the funeral parlor to view the open casket. You get used to it. As Catholics, we knelt on a kneeler placed beside the casket to pray. My grandmother and then my dad some years later both looked good. We had my mother cremated after saying “Goodbye” at the nursing home. We had to transport her body quite a distance by car so had little choice. She was buried beside my dad. I guess it’s what you become used to. It looks like your characters found solace in disagreeing with each other. Wel-written, Sandra. —– Suzanne


  7. Great shift in view. Have a good trip.


  8. yarnspinnerr says:

    Great post and thank you for a awesome prompt pic.


  9. This reminds me of a recent conversation I had about how our perspective changes over time. I didn’t even realize the picture was of a sand dial. I took it as some kind of symbol, which I guess it is.


  10. Such an interesting set of relationships! It seems very cinematic to me, and brought to mind the movie “The Savages” (2007 movie with Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman), because the siblings have to deal with a dying father, plus their complex relationship with each and him.
    Yours is a beautiful, and tersely written, story!


  11. I have only seen the body of my father… and it was a moment I will always remember.. somehow I grew up that day… the story itself says a lot of the way a hypocrite never can be wrong…


  12. Brothers and sisters, parents, and the complexities of relationships when it comes to the final time and place. I cannot stand the sight of anyone in that state; I wish I had never seen one. The feelings of the characters tell a lot about their lives and feelings.


  13. Sandra, this is a great picture and a great story for it. It’s interesting that how they reacted to each death differently tells a lot about them.


  14. Carolyn Page says:

    I didn’t make it on time to the viewing of my mother. I don’t regret this; though, my sisters tell me she looked peaceful.
    I’m sure your piece will/has evoked many memories for many. We will all respond somewhat differently.


  15. Judee says:

    How simply and skillfully you use this very short tale to tell so much about the brother and sister and their relationship. Speaks volumes.


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  19. Oooo, I feel like punching him in the face! Well written, Sandra. You’ve managed to hit a raw nerve and triggered some memories of times my blood was made to boil.


  20. trentpmcd says:

    There’s sibling rivalry and then there are people like David.Great story. And a great prompt.


  21. gahlearner says:

    Ah, the hypocrisy, wonderful and so, so typical for many male-female dynamics still. Typical, too, that she feels guilt. He won’t. Great story, and thank you for that picture.


  22. liz young says:

    ‘Moral high ground’ – my own brother is good at standing there! Great story and lovely sand-timer.


  23. emmylgant says:

    Excellent observations of family dynamics. Well captured and masterly expressed


  24. mjlstories says:

    I wonder which sibling will be looking in on the other eventually.


  25. Bloggeuse says:

    Thanks for the lovely prompt this week, Sandra! Love your work as ever – and wishing you a safe trip north. Besitos! x


  26. Jan Brown says:

    Very interesting portrayal of sibling interaction. Very realistic, too. Sibling rivalry seems to last well into adulthood!

    Thank you also for this week’s photo–a great story prompt.

    Safe travels!


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  28. Indira says:

    Loved your story and style Sandra. You are always good.


  29. ansumani says:

    Well written story Sandra.


  30. Amy Reese says:

    Guilt can be a strong motivator, especially in the final hour. Wonderful writing, Sandra. Thanks for the great photo.


  31. plaridel says:

    despite the light-hearted tone, the story has a serious streak in it. well done.


  32. Dale says:

    It’s funny how all that works… when my son died, I wanted open casket and my husband did not. I said people need to see to say goodbye, he said it wasn’t necessary. (For some strange reason, we just could not cremate a baby…) Now that said husband has passed on and was cremated before any viewing was possible, I think it is so much easier. I dunno. Is there a right way and a wrong way? Siblings aside…
    Great use of the prompt, Sandra. And thanks for a great photo! I was stumped for a bit!


  33. draliman says:

    Quite a turn-around. There’s no way I’d want to see my relatives after they’ve died.


  34. rgayer55 says:

    My mother once made a remark that if she didn’t see the body at the funeral she felt somehow cheated. My oldest brother, however, was just the opposite. He refused to attend Dad’s visitation (viewing or wake) and didn’t show up at the funeral until the casket was placed over the grave and he was confident it would not be opened. He was also adamant that he have a closed casket funeral and his wife followed through on his wishes. To me, the body is just a cold, empty container once the soul is gone.

    Thanks for the photo. I had fun with it.


  35. oldentimes says:

    So true, Recently we had a similar situation in our family.
    I loved the photo. It took me down several paths before I landed on one for my post


  36. I guess this says a lot about how the siblings felt about their parents in life. Interesting. Thanks for the photo Sandra.

    ‘About Harry’, my 100 words!


  37. Dee says:

    Thanks for a great photo this week Sandra and a great story to go with it. Belated congratulations on your competition win, I would have know it was one of yours anywhere, loved it. Well done.


  38. Sibling rivalry never ends! It’s an interesting photo Sandra. Thanks for the prompt.


  39. mickwynn2013 says:

    The first body I saw was my father’s, I never want to see another. Closed casket for me from now on, whatever my sisters say. Great observation on absurd, sibling rivalry.


  40. Susan Langer says:

    Such rivalry between the two. They will probably not stay in touch much now at this point. Well written story. 🙂


  41. erinleary says:

    Thank you for a fun prompt this week. Your story feels familiar to me – losing my mom and dad so close together, it was interesting to see how my brothers and sisters reacted. You captured that well.


  42. Jenn says:

    Ha! Some people always want to have the upper hand. No matter what you do, they would do it differently. Great story.


  43. Margaret says:

    David’s got issues. Great little study of a disagreeable man – I like your ‘moral high ground’ reference – there really are people like that. Poor Ellie.


  44. Lori Carlson says:

    Wonderful story, Sandra.. I love the shift in attitude. Well done!


  45. subroto says:

    David loves having his way it seems, you’ve really captured some interesting family dynamics there.


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