Life is full of goodbyes — to loved ones, missed opportunities, places. Yet, saying goodbye can bring a new beginning, too. As in , one door closes and another opens, or the wisdom to see beyond the loss. In many ways, goodbye is not the end.
The past two weeks, writers have explored farewells in various customs and perspectives. Some goodbyes are rooted in choice, and others are unexpected. Writing about goodbyes had surprising conclusions, as well.
The following stories are based on the August 31, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a goodbye.
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye by Drew Sheldon
We had barely spoken a word all morning as I got into my car. We had promised not to say a certain word and were struggling to avoid it. She did tell me she made extra strong coffee to help start my long drive. I still couldn’t help but cringe at the taste. She erased my expression with a kiss. Starting my car, the radio was playing an old song perfectly timed. We shared another kiss through the window before I put my car in reverse. Pulling away, I sang to her, “Sweeten my coffee with a morning kiss…”
Heartbreak in Paris by Rowena Newton
Nobody warned Chloe that the City of Love, was the City of Heartbreak. Or, that the River Seine flowed with lovers’ tears.
Yet, what could she expect from a holiday romance? A wedding ring?
Instead, he’d returned her letters and wasn’t returning her calls.
The lights of Paris had gone out and as Chloe leaned over Pont Neuf, she felt herself being pulled in.
“Nobody’s worth dying for,” a firm arm grabbed her, pulling her back from the edge.
What was she thinking? He wasn’t worth this.
An infinitesimal flicker of light broke through the darkness.
She was free.
Goodbye by Sharmishtha Basu
“Goodbye” never came easily to her lips, it was so hard to even think that they may not meet again, so she always said, “Till we meet again!” and hoped the same too.
Whenever she said those words she meant it, if she said goodbye to someone that clearly meant goodbye.
His heart stopped for a second when she uttered those words and closed the door.
He returned again and again but they never met, he could hear her inside but she was never home for him, after years of trying to please him she finally told him goodbye.
Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin
Lust at first sight, it was. Though you weren’t flashy, some inner magnetism drew me past the others to your hangout. Brazenly, I stroked your sleeve.
Friends said we were made for each other. Looked good together. A perfect fit. Do you remember when the rot set in? When you lost your warmth? Now I go out, and you stay home.
It hurts to move on from what we had together. Yet there’s life enough in both of us to begin again with someone new. So one last kiss, old grey cardigan, then it’s the charity shop for you.
Paradise Lost (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane looks at her forlorn hideout, seeing instead the home she left behind.
She hadn’t even said goodbye. She’d been glad to leave it, tired of family tensions and no jobs, looking forward to a plum job in an exciting city. She’d driven off in the U-Haul with scarcely a look in the rearview mirror.
She hadn’t meant to leave it forever, but the economy had taken care of that for her. How funny. She’d had paradise and hadn’t even known it.
She misses her rose bushes, hoping the new owners are taking care of her catalpa tree.
Farewell Summer by Ellen Best
Autumn fruits and winter boots, wrapping up for the day,
Cold noses on the children, their cheeks glow as they play.
Reddend skies apple pies, climbing fences made of wire,
Warming stews and evening news tucked up by the fire.
Halloween, bonfire night, toffee apples on their sticks,
Burning smelly candles right down to their wicks.
Warming bubbles soothe the bones
reading stories, haunting tomes.
Fond memories seep inside my head,
of windy nights wrapped up in bed.
We put away flimsy dresses
tie up loose flowing tresses
Say farewell to summer
the honey and the Bee,
That’s what Autumn,
conjures up for me.
Leaving Can Be So Hard by Geoff Le Pard
Paul nodded. ‘I feel a fraud going to Jerry’s funeral. I barely knew him.’
Mary held his hand. ‘So don’t go.’
He shook his head. ‘No. I feel guilty, how I ignored his overtures. Now I know how tough things got, I just wonder. If I’d called him…’
‘Shh. It wouldn’t have mattered. If it helps, then go.’
Paul stood by the door. A woman stared. ‘Paul North?’
‘And some. Mrs Marchand now. Why does it take a death to bring people back together, eh? Come on, lots of old faces, lots of old memories.’
Time for Bed by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)
Mary rocked on the porch with a quilt tucked around her and Lizzie. The baby within stirred. After evening chores, the boys took to bed, leaving Mary alone with none to hear her heart pound. Cobb insisted she move in with his parents, but she wasn’t ready to leave Watauga County. The familiar woods, the patchwork of corn and squash, the smells of hearth fires nearby. She was born just over the ridge she couldn’t see in the dark. All her children were born here. And so would this last one. It was time for bed, not for goodbye.
Goodbye by Lady Lee Manila
the hardest goodbye
was to my Dad
on his bed
before my flight
I didn’t cry
I said sorry
things I’ve done
things I haven’t done
he said no need
I was forgiven
I promised him
lots of things
I’d look after everyone
I’d make sure they’re fine
I looked at him one last time
he was the man I dearly love
my idol, my ideal man
the man who pinned my medals
the man who left me notes
the man who cooked
the man with a big heart
his memories in my soul
miss him like the rain
Them Windows by Elliott Lyngreen
Angels humming; pass through in that sordid vanish of itself, that sort of end, that culminated bright waking where she rains so close to my temple; sense warmth where our heads were assuming endless yet turn up into the pillows. Barely touched her head and tremendous washed ‘awww-awww-ahhhs’ of angelic hums instilled into my dreaming still clenched in the raining. As I removed the pillow from our heads and I lay there, the day it seemed was washing away – as if I had seen her… again… Again the radio, the alarm was 24 Gone – Girl of Colours.
Flash Fiction by Lisa Ciarfella
The Market was bustling, its usual lunchtime crazy, people jamming carts into each other left and right. Amanda’s out of control chocolate craving was the culprit, but she just had to have it; their new fire-cracker dark bar. Thinking on it since last night, she braved the parking lot, nearly sideswiped three times to park, then dashed in quick under the pelting rain. Grabbing the stash, she looked up and saw her; cart in hand, oblivious. Last semester’s professor who’d screwed her out of the Teacher’s Aide job. Paying, she ducked past fast, not waiting to get into it.
Treachery by Bill Engelson
Time, dust and mortality cycloned in on Dobbs. He had to move quickly. “Damnation,” he realized, “I should have located Caldwell earlier.”
He scampered back into the morning shadows of Union City. “They will not harm the children,” he willed it to be. “They mean nothing to Caldwell.”
Behind the bank, he peered in. The Banker was busy.
He had a customer.
There was an easiness between the two men.
Each sported a twisted grin; two bedbugs, fat and sassy.
He had been a fool to trust the Banker. Any banker.
He would not make that mistake again.
Goodbye by Shane Kroetsch
“So that’s it then.”
“I guess so.”
Jess was doing her best to hold it together, but she couldn’t stop the tears from breaking through.
“Do you need a ride home?”
“No. I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
The Head of HR waited by the door, eyes watching each piece as it was placed in the cardboard banker’s box. Marilyn was shocked by how fast everything had happened. How cold it made her feel. And she wasn’t the one being walked.
I don’t know what to do, Marilyn wanted to say.
“It’s okay, really. Take care of yourself Marilyn.”
Arrivederci by Jules Paige
I missed too many, those important last words…the ones from
those who had whisper voices or none at all, before entering
death’s door to never to be seen again. Related by blood or bond.
Often the claim being that children brought germs. Did that matter
to those who were dying already?
last words lost and found
in dreams appearing to be
Distance is a hamper for dirty clothes hidden in the back of
a closet along with skeletons. Those who I could sit beside,
kept last words hidden with medicated slurring…barely stirring
The Birth by Rowena Newton
Walking into the hospital with my suitcase packed, I had no idea this would be my greatest goodbye.
Rather, all I could think about was the birth and welcoming our tiny son into the world. After feeling him moving around like an exuberant butterfly, I’d finally see his face and hold him in my arms.
No longer a work in progress, he’d become real.
With such anticipation and a love I’d never known before, I didn’t notice the door slam shut behind me. That the woman who walked in, wasn’t the same woman walking out.
That Mummy was born.
A Goodbye Clapping Song by Norah Colvin
It’s time for you to go, go, go
I’ve lots to do and can’t be slow.
It’s time for me to fly, fly, fly
Upon my broom into the sky.
It’s time for you to leave, leave, leave
I will be happy, do not grieve.
It’s time for me to run, run, run
And jump so high I touch the sun
It’s time to say goodbye, bye, bye
You’ve work to do and so have I.
I’ll blow a kiss, and smile, smile, smile
I’ll see you in a little while.
Bye. Have a good day. Love you!
The Worst Goodbye by Paula Moyer
Jean was never a follower of kidnap stories. Before the Amber Alert, she had glazed over the milk carton notices. A weird protection – if these cases weren’t real, her daughters were safe.
Then, one night, the news bulldozed over her. An 11-year-old boy, missing for 27 years. His remains found on a farm 30 miles from home.
Along with the boy’s mom, part of Jean had hoped he would surface alive.
After the news, Jean and Sam turned on the porch light – for remembrance.
Goodbye, little man.
Hello to hope – not for your return, but for remembering your face.
Flash Fiction by Cheryl Oreglia
It was early December, The Carol of Bells by George Winston, was playing in the background. That was the last time I looked my Dad in the eye and said goodbye. I knew I would not see him again, well at least not in this life, and I was bartering with God for a little more time. I held his gaze through a blur of tears, lingering in that wretched space, knowing my beloved was close to death. Although I was not granted more time, embedded in that gaze was a lifetime of love, and I am grateful for the sacredness of the moment.
Leaving Cousin Klaus by Susan Budig
“Sören, I didn’t even say goodbye.”
“Not a word, Becca?”
He laced his fingers inward toward his palms then pressed his thumbs together repeatedly. After several seconds, he looked at Becca standing next to him. Impulsively, he reached out to rub the tear away that trickled down her cheek.
“What would you have told him,” Sören asked.
Her shoulders rose up as she twisted her head to face his. “Why, I couldn’t have said anything. My family was stealing away, running from the SA, Jungvolk and everything that evil elfish man represented…saying goodbye would have betrayed our plans.”
Keepers, Chapter 3 Excerpt, by Sacha Black
“We’ll leave you the train and travel to Siren city overnight. Okay?”
I nodded. It wasn’t really a question and his tone of voice told me not to argue.
Mother looked back, her mouth sagged just enough that her unsaid words pricked the air. I stepped from foot to foot, desperate to find a quick question she would answer. I had nothing. So, like a child, I reached out to cling on to her. She leant back pulling her body out of my grasp. A tear rolled down my cheek.
“I love you, Eden East.”
Then she was gone.
Goodbyes Were Few by Ann Edall-Robson
Through the open door of the old country school, the lively sounds of a three piece band played on. Laughter and voices singing to the music. Small children lay asleep on benches around the room. Waltzes, polkas, old time schottische and swinging butterfles. Sashaying around the room with neighbours, friends and loved ones. Midnight lunch, a conglomerate of pot luck dishes on tables at the back of the room. The slowing chords and the crowd singing ‘Irene, Goodnight Irene’ announced the evening’s end. Across the grass covered field, was a chorus of “See you next time”. Goodbyes were few.
Goodbye, Again by Diana Nagai
You crossed the rainbow bridge months ago. My children’s sobs echo in my memory, as does the quiet ride to the hospital. I see your eyes, too tired to complain about the car ride. My arms feel your weightlessness as I handed you to the veterinarian, full of hope, yet knowing the truth.
We said goodbye that day.
Yet, I continue to wash blankets covered with your furry DNA, erasing your existence even more. At every moving shadow or tinkle of a bell, I look for you. I remember. I struggle with renewed loss. I say goodbye, again.
Goodbye Gram by Kerry E.B. Black
Ariel dreaded the M.I.U. and its decaying grandeur.
Gram rested in an over-sized chair before a quiet television. The other residents’ smiles quavered across wizened faces, searching for recognition. They found none.
The nurse whispered a warning in Ariel’s ear.
As she stroked her Gram’s pigment-free hair, a tear slid over Ariel’s cheek.
Gram stirred and searched Ariel’s face. “Is it you?”
Her heart leapt. “Yes, Gram, it’s Ariel. I love you.”
Gram’s bony finger collected her tear. “I love you, too, dear.”
Ariel cried into her Gram’s lap, uncertain even at the end if her Gram really recognized her.
The Slow One by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)
“For God’s sake, Ike! You’re forty-nine years old, you need readers, your one knee is bad and your other one worse. You know what the fellows on the Baffin expedition used to say? ‘Don’t have to be faster than the polar bear, just faster than the slowest in the group.’ Well, Ike, guess what? You’re that slow one!” Danni stood on the curb of the airport, ready to block his entrance.
“Babe, I know. But I have to.” Ike grabbed his duffle, kissed his wife goodbye and disappeared into the concourse as if Iraq had already swallowed him whole.