Medicine–Five Sentence Fiction


Nursing Home

Nursing Home (Photo credit: LOLren)

The same question that had hounded her for years continued to pummel Irene: At the end of my life, what will I have to show for it?

The answer, she decided, wasn’t in this place—a box-like room full of white sheets, a white blanket, a white commode and the sickly smell of urine, feces and vomit.

She dragged her legs to the edge of the bed, grabbed the rubber handles of her walker, encrusted with the grime of three weeks in the nursing home, and made her way to the apple red crash cart parked down the hall where she copped a vial of potassium chloride, a 22-gauge needle, a syringe and tourniquet from the drawer that should have been locked.

After signing herself out against medical advice, she took a taxi home—her happy yellow house with the flower boxes on the window sill that had just come into bloom—the place where she had chosen to die.

Purty, her calico cat greeted her at the door, purring and winding herself about the ankles of the old nurse, who suddenly realized that the medicine stashed inside her purse wasn’t what she really wanted, not as long as Purty needed her.

Shared with Five Sentence Fiction over at Lillie McFerrin’s blog, where this week’s prompt is Medicine. Perhaps you’d like to join us with a Flash Fiction of your own!

19 thoughts on “Medicine–Five Sentence Fiction

  1. dragonkatet says:

    Thank goodness for Purty! (Purr-ty? 😉 ) This was very realistic, Victoria. All the little details had me right there with Irene and I am so glad the tale has a happy ending! You really are such a good writer.


  2. Brian Benoit says:

    Great story – one of my favorites this week. From the realistic details like the color of the crash cart and the potassium chloride, to the way the sad tone turns at the end.

    If I had one piece of constructive criticism (probably just a personal thing) I would swap “her” and “Irene” in the first line just so we get her name first, and to make the thought she has there feel a bit more personal. Great piece, really memorable.



  3. ahblack57 says:

    I’m glad for the happy ending. nice twist in a good direction…


  4. Louise says:

    Oh, this touched my heart….I always think dying at home is far more preferable than in some ghastly nursing home…so well written, Victoria.


  5. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful story and lovely descriptions. The end of the piece gives a sense of hope and courage. Wonderful job!


  6. Loved this, like the others have said, full of hope and I too, enjoyed the contrast between stark nursing home and yellow home of her own…


  7. Lora Mitchell says:

    I just went through 6 years of nursing home hell with my mom so this piece resonated with me.. Isn’t she lucky that her home and beloved pet was still there. It’s a fact, that once a person is admitted, the apt or home is vacated, rented or sold. Nice work.


  8. Elisabeth says:

    Ahh, I’m so pleased she felt the need to stay and be wanted! That cat was so pleased to see her that all her thoughts vanished. The best medciine is the love of a pet- good for the soul! Beautifully written . . I;m pleased she left the home; the description of the walking frame is stuck with me now. . . .


  9. Oh Victoria, I too sensed her strength would come from the warmth of another living thing. Very well written, I could ‘see’ the nursing home and feel the pain.


  10. Sandra says:

    As soon as you mentioned the cat, I hoped she wasn’t going to do what I thought she might. I liked this, nicely done.


  11. I love the ending. Especially hope in the form of her cat.


  12. I love the switch between the nursing home atmosphere and her happy yellow house!


  13. This is great Victoria and very emotive. I too like the sense of hopelessness at the beginning to hope at the end. Nicely done 🙂


  14. vivinfrance says:

    A salutary story, with a happy ending. Or is it? Who will look after her now?


  15. siggiofmaine says:

    Excellent tale. I can see it happening…it triggered a real event similar but not the same that really happened. It has been said by “experts” that a a short time can make a difference in the feeling of “all is lost” and despair, to “I’ve changed my mind.”
    Enjoyed this very much.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  16. I love the way your piece starts off with a sense of hopelessness, and just when you think all is lost… Irene experiences a change of heart.
    I love the final feel-good moment. 🙂


  17. souldipper says:

    Do I remember this…did you post this before? Surely I’m not peeking over your shoulder! 😀 I love any story that tells of a senior exercising self-empowerment!


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