#5MinuteFiction: Week 138

It’s 5 Minute Fiction time! You know the rules (and if you don’t, check here — and make it quick because you’ve only got a few minutes!). A reminder–don’t forget your Twitter address if you’ve got one!

Here is your prompt:

Your entry must include the phrase “Only death was inevitable.”

NOTE: the photo is not part of the prompt–it’s decorative/inspirational only!

death walking

A Few Notes:

  • In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me.
  • I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.
  • This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Go, go, go! You’ve got until 8:45p EST (on the dot. Yes, I’m serious) to submit your entry in the comments section of this post.

I’ll see you back here at 10p EST with the finalists!

*photograph courtesy of Posan.

26 Responses

  1. As Beau stared down at the churning, black water below, he knew only one thing. Only death was inevitable.

    He wondered briefly if everything in his life had been coming to this moment. Thoughts passed through his mind, including the time he’d faked sick to keep from going to his older sister’s wedding. He was fifteen and she was twenty-two, and he really just hadn’t wanted to go.

    Now, with the gunman standing just inches away from him, pistol pointed to his heart, he had the depressing thought that his life had to mean more than this.

    His options were jump or be shot for something he hadn’t done, and he’d be damned if he let a villain like the one in front of him make that decision for him.

    As the man slowly squeezed the trigger, Beau threw himself backwards and fell the sixty feet into the river below, master of his own destiny.

  2. Only death was inevitable. The rest of it was up for grabs.

    So she took off her clothes and jumped into the fountain.

    Who would she be, once she didn’t exist anymore? Was she made up of thoughts, events, objects? The crap in her garage?

    Was she made of other people’s memories? That couldn’t be. We all know that the mind warps the hell out of everything. If she lived on only in people’s memories, she’d be this bizarre fun-house version of herself.

    Was she the top drawer filled with tickets and playbills from every play, every dance, every concert she had ever attended? Did these give shape to her identity?

    Or was it all just in her head?

    And if so, what about when she no longer had a head? What then?

    For sure, she knew that she wasn’t a gravestone. Everybody who has stood, impotent, atop a mound of grass with a marker knows this.

    So, she took off her clothes, and jumped into the fountain, and ran around in circles lifting her knees high, until her toes went numb and her fingers wrinkled up like raisins and her cheeks turned a warm shade of pink.

    She climbed out, padded over to her pile of clothes, put them on. She went home, to the prescription pills and the paperwork, but she knew, and she would always know, she had jumped in the fountain.


  3. Life was uncertain, only death was inevitable; but death wasn’t supposed to come so soon.
    She glared out the window at the pounding rain.
    Why him? Why her love?
    She had known him only five months but their parting was enough to scar her for life. They were supposed to be endlessly happy togther; growing and learning together; to experience many years together. She was supposed to go before him – that was the expectation, that was the rule. How could she live the rest of her life without him in it?
    How could simple tears convey the pain that was in her heart?
    How could screaming out?
    How could throwing and breaking things?
    “He was *my* son!” she whispered to death. “Not yours, you bastard.”
    When her turn came – that inevitable visit from oblivion – she’d spit in his eye all the bitterness he’d given her.
    “This life you’ve left me,” she vowed through clenched teeth. “I’ll live it. I’ll live the hell out it. For him. For the one you took, I’ll live it.”


  4. The time portal worked. We had succeeded in opening space time. Only death was inevitable for anyone who dared passed through it. My partner, who was in his mid-thirties, returned from his maiden voyage white-haired and wrinkled as a prune. “We did it,” he whispered, choking out his last breath. “I have seen the future.

    I held his hand as he passed away and after that I put away the portal, abandoned all our research. I lost all passion for the project. What good is time travel when our time is finite? The past and future will be forever out of our reach until we can cure ourselves of mortality itself.

  5. Her arm ached. He told her to leave the bandage on for another hour, but she kept picking at the edges of the medical tape, fingers rubbing until a sticky corner curled and caught on her sleeve.

    She had done better than she imagined. The needle hurt, of course, but she breathed through the pain. A flexed fist. Teeth marks on her lips. Then it was done. She was marked. Permanently changed.

    She knew what they would say: What were you thinking? A woman your age? A professional?

    But the admonishments would ring hollow in her ears. There are some things you know are right. Some things worth looking the fool for. Because, really, that was the point, wasn’t it. A woman her age, and she had done nothing. Risked nothing.

    She worked all her life—hoping and dreaming. Planning for the family that never came, for the children not meant to be. She thought it a done deal. Marriage, two point five kids, and the white picket fence. But life had taught her of the myriad things one might hope for, only death was inevitable.

    So she walked home, feeling phantom tingles on her arm, imagining the mark she’d carry with her from now on, and she smiled. This was hers alone. A moment of stupidity, of bravery.

    The hope pulsing under her skin, and now written across it:



  6. He looked down at his hands, tired.

    He was tired of being sad. He was sad because of what he lost. What he lost was his lovely wife. Losing her brought him to tears and grief, a tunnel of sadness he couldn’t see the light at the end of.

    And he was tired of being sad.

    In fact, he was tired of the whole circle. The whole situation left him with nothing to do but consider his tiredness. And even that was exhausting.

    Death was exhausting.


    He looked up at the sound of a soft voice. His mother, God love her, opened the door to his room. She knew what state he was in, and yet she never left him. Tears stained her weary face as she walked in to sit beside him. She grabbed one of his hands and sighed heavily.

    “Everyone is downstairs waiting for you,” his mother replied.

    “Let them.”

    She nodded, hearing the strain of his voice. Her son was on the edge of losing it. Being alone might be best.

    “Mom, I can’t believe…” his shoulders drooped, unable to shake from his tears anymore.

    She pulled her son to her and allowed him to cry. There was no need to explain to a grown man what cancer was capable of. They caught her breast cancer in the more advance stages. While the doctors did all they could…

    “She fought hard, baby,” his mother whispered into his hair.

    He nodded against her shoulder. “For what? She said she’d looked death in the eye and told it she’d beat it. Only death was inevitable. And now I have to pay the price by living my life without her.”

    She tilted his face up. “You’re going to be okay, Daniel. You’re going to be okay, because you have to be. Today, you can be weak and pity yourself. But after today, you have reasons to live.”

    He froze…then slowly nodded against his mother, understanding completely.

    He may have lost his wife, but he still had his son to consider. The last thing he needed was to lose his whole world because Daniel didn’t have the strength to hold it up.

    And for that reason, he allowed himself a few moments to cry and lament in his mothers arms.

    Then he stood, his face stronger than stone, and went downstairs to exist in life again.

  7. “Blah, blah, blah … and taxes, too,” he spat back. Or was it more of a simper.

    “No. That’s not what I meant. I meant what I said, ‘Only death was inevitable.'”

    “So what’s your point?” His lip curled up on one side and in that moment I knew I actually hated him. Years of what I called love were obliterated by a few muscle contractions and a sort of soft hocking sounds from the back of his throat. These were gestures of derision, and they were something I didn’t need anymore.

    “Never mind.” I turned away and walked toward the bathroom. I’m not sure what made me go there first, but I knew I wanted a toothbrush. And my expensive hemp shampoo. That shit was expensive.

    I pulled a large canvas zip bag out from under the sink and started sweeping personal care products into it. Foundation, concealer, blush, mascara. Clinique, Cover girl, Bert’s Bees. Lotion and a bottle of Zoloft.

    “What the fuck are you doing?”

    Wasn’t it clear?

    “I guess I was wrong.”

    “Well, yeah.” When I didn’t respond, he asked, “What do you mean you were wrong?”

    “I meant this,” I said. I swung my arm around, indicating the bag and it’s jumbled contents; the dead space between the two of us. “Clearly it was inevitable, too.”


    1. “Years of what I called love were obliterated by a few muscle contractions and a sort of soft hocking sounds from the back of his throat.”

      Are you kidding?

      I <3 U

  8. “When you’re out of options, the end isn’t so bleak.”
    I laughed at the meandering way my mother could steer a sentence.
    “Ah huh.” I stirred my tea, watching steam billow out of the cup. A tempest was brewing, I just knew it. Actually, I really just needed a smoke and a little perspective. “But the thing is, Ma, taxes aren’t really that depressing. Could we get back on topic?”
    “What’s that saying about death and taxes?” Her hands shook as she grappled in her purse for another pill.
    “Something about inevitability…” I blew the hot liquid and took a careful sip.
    The truth was, only death was inevitable, but it wasn’t like I wanted to wallow in it. Not like my mother. I wasn’t sure if it was just the attention she craved, but she treated death like a holiday.
    “What were we doing?” She reached for another pill, and I slapped her hand. “Writing my epitaph? You know we need to get it all sorted out. My friend Diane and I are going shopping for our headstones next week. Have you considered where you’d like to be buried?”
    “And I think I need you to refill my prescription. The woman at the pharmacy is stealing from me…always pocketing pills for her dirty drug habit. Maybe I should report her to the police.”
    “Stop it, Ma! You take so many you lose count. One of these days you’re going to wake up dead.”
    She smiled. “And wouldn’t that be a tragedy.”
    Death seemed slightly less painful than taxes…at least, when my mother was involved.

  9. Marta adjusted her spandex in the mirror. Her only advantage was that she was a skinny-geek not a chubby-geek. She could stuff her bra to make up for her shortcomings. Still, there were just enough perfectly-curvy geek-girls at the convention to keep the guys drooling and render all attempts at flirtation by the less-than-perfect girls obsolete.
    “Only death was inevitable…” was the catchphrase of the night. All the paranormals were chanting it. Vampires in glitter, werewolf-Klingon hybrids with bad wigs. Even for the so-called immortal, death would eventually catch up with them.
    “…except that he will fall in love with me. That too is inevitable,” Marta said, taking a deep breath and heading out to the costume contest.
    He was Indiana Jones incarnate, his whip…
    …his whip was entangled in a redheadded bombshell of a living toon, a girl pulling off Roger Rabbit’s wife without any padding whatsoever.
    And she was GRINNING at him like she could eat him up.
    Marta faded into the crowd, hoping she could be invisible in spite of the pink spandex.
    She backed up until she stepped on someone’s toe.
    “Oh! I’m sorry…” she said, spinning around.
    And he sparkled.
    Without glitter…
    …and one corner of his mouth quirked up, a genuine smile…
    …and she thought perhaps nothing was inevitable after all.


  10. “If you wanted to be remembered, you pulled the strings and gather the rope and lash yourself to a beginning or an end. Most of the off-Broadway plays would never be remembered, likely to be forgotten even by those who had been in it, let alone the audiences who had been tricked into buying a ticket. If you wrote for off-Broadway, you were planning to go somewhere or trying to fill the time until you died.

    “With that mindset, I wrote the play, ‘Only Death Was Inevitable.’ It was not optimistic – even the sunshine was tinted a few shades away from gray to give it the sterile feeling of a body ready to be dressed and presented. It was brutally honest, and so close to life off-Broadway that you might have thought you were just watching the street outside an audition had the chairs been less comfortable. There were scenes in there that every actor, actress, stage-hand and director knew by heart before they were ever put to paper. The desire to be loved. The desire to be remembered.

    “It was only natural that I would leap at the chance to cast Charles in the lead. He had acted with every actor that had ever been in New York and continued on to greatness. Some of them had tried to take him with them, but he always slipped right back to Broadway. And then, off-Broadway. He took the lead gladly, and he hit every line like it was the chance that got away.

    “He never told me about the cancer though. The last day of the run, he just gave me a soft smile, and bowed his head bashfully, as he always did when someone paid him compliments. I told him that I’d see him later. He told me he hoped it wouldn’t be soon. I called him a bastard, inside my head. A brilliant bastard. But there has never been a more beautiful soul, or a more honestly-delivered role, than Charles. Only Charles… Was inevitable.”

  11. They stood at the edge of the embankment, staring down at the rushing water. The river ran fast and hard, unusual for this time of year. She looked down at the hand holding her own, and smiled sadly. He was a lovely man, she’d always thought so, but he had been drifting away.

    That was the trouble with loving a painter. He spent so much of his time surrounded by beautiful things he created; she was beginning to fear she didn’t fit in with the rest of his collection. Dark, beautiful colors. Lines that wove in and out of melancholy and sadness. His heart on a canvas. Looking at a painting it was clear he loved with a passion, but his passion was not her.

    The roar of the water drowned out her thoughts and she caught only the end of the sentence he spewed out, quickly, as if he were embarrassed. Four words: “inevitable, don’t you think?” Her heart sank in her chest. She didn’t want to hear the rest of his sentence. She knew why he had brought her here. She wanted to turn it all around, to fight, to show him that she might not be something that he created, she was real.

    She dropped his hand, and stepped off the bank, into the rushing water. “No,” she said. “Only death is inevitable.” The water roared around her, and she knew nothing he could paint would even taunt him as much as this moment.

  12. The test tubes glistened, pale and thin, in the ugly fluorescent glare, but I didn’t care. To me they were beautiful, as beautiful as any sunset or poem or concerto. It’s something I’ve never managed to adequately explain to Markus, though I tried time and time again

    “You act like they’re sentient,” he’d say, cocking an eye at me in that annoying way he had of conveying, I’m smarter than you. “You realize they are experiments. Attempts. Failed attempts, mostly. They represent nothing more than a day’s hard work put behind you.”

    “I know they’re not sentient,” I’d say, fiddling under the kitchen sink for a vase. Markus’ thing was roses. He must have read somewhere that roses are the sure-fire way to a girl’s heart, because every time he came over, he pushed a tired bouquet of them into my hands. He never got the irony, handing me a bunch of dead things and stuffing down his own irritation at my inability to express the right kind of gratitude.

    “I’m not sure you do. You and your crew have been working on this project for, what, ten years? Fifteen? At some point you’re going to run out of money—”

    “We ran out of money three years ago. Didn’t stop us.”

    “—at some point you’re going to run out of money, and energy. This is a ridiculous, fruitless project, Althea. Admit it: failure was always inevitable.”

    “You’re wrong,” I said. “Failure was always optional. Only death was inevitable.”


    “Was,” I agreed, staring through the window at my beautiful, glowing test tubes. “Didn’t you hear, Markus? We found it. Everything’s changed now.”

    The roses fell slowly, sweetly, to the ground in the fading light.


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