Flash Fiction: New Beginnings by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “unfinished business.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon!


New Beginnings by Cathy MacKenzie

“We need to go,” Tim said. “Now.”

Lisa glanced up at her boyfriend. “Right now?”

“Yes. It’s time.”

“But I’m not ready.”

“Well, get ready.”

Five minutes later, Lisa appeared from the bedroom. “Do I look okay?”

Tim smiled. “You look gorgeous. As always. But it’s dark. No one’s gonna see you.” He snatched his car keys from the hook.  “Doesn’t matter. Let’s go.”

Half an hour later, Tim parked the car by the wrought iron fence, and they walked to the gate.

“I’m not sure I can do this,” Lisa said, gripping his hand.

Tim glanced over. “Sure you can. No one will know.”


It was his turn to grip her hand. “It’s okay. I gotta do this.” He flicked open the trunk and withdrew the shovel.

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, quit asking.” He scanned the area. “It’s late. And dark. There’s no one here.”

The full moon illuminated the cemetery, highlighting grey pillars reaching to Heaven.  Some short and squat. Others tall and skinny. Mark had been skinny. He took after his father.

She gulped in a great breath, surprised the air was so fresh. What had she expected? The smell of death? Decay? Decomposition? Perhaps. Except they were several yards from the first row of graves, and the death smell couldn’t travel that far, could it? And those nearest gravesites were old, from the 1800s. The most recent were at the back. Any odour should be long gone after that many years. She shook her head. Quite being so silly, she admonished herself. She’d frequented the cemetery previously. No smell existed.

Tim slammed down the trunk lid.

“Sssh, quiet,” she whispered. “Someone might be around.”

“Look around.” He spread his arms. “No one’s here.”

“Could be someone behind the bushes. Or in the trees.”

“Hush, woman. There’s no one.”

She leaned into him. Inhaling his cologne. Gentleman Musk. She had bought it for his birthday the previous month. She took another deep breath. Fall, her favourite season, was in the air. Cooler temperatures always arrived mid-August. She’d miss that tell-tale sign if she left, and she hated the thought of leaving Halifax and moving a thousand kilometres away.

Tim was adamant he must finish what he’d started.  But what had he started? A new life nineteen years previously? Sex. That’s all it was. But, they’d been married, so it was more than sex. Their life together was to have lasted forever. A match made in Heaven. All that jazz. But was anything forever?

“Unfinished business,” he’d said. “It needs to be done.”

Unfinished business. Ironic. Not even the new year, but it was as if he must make a fresh start. New city. New job. Cut ties with family.

But he—they—couldn’t leave without Mark. He had to go, too.

They walked the rest of the way in silence. 

“Here,” she whispered. “Here he is.”

Tim thrust the shovel into the soil. They hadn’t buried the urn as deeply as she’d expected. Perhaps Tim had known his son would be unearthed. That this wasn’t his final resting place.

Tears cascaded down her cheeks. This was wrong. But she kept her thoughts to herself. Wouldn’t do to upset Tim, and the task was undeniably harder for him. Mark was his flesh and blood, not hers. His son. She hadn’t had children. Discovered during her first marriage that she couldn’t conceive.

Tim had changed since Mark’s death. Not yet six months since he died. And when Tim got the transfer, he pretended he didn’t want it, but she knew differently. She hadn’t wanted to leave with him although he had expected her to jump for joy and obey, as usual. She had been so done with him numerous times but kept going back. “Give me a bit of time,” she had said. “I’ll come later.” He hadn’t been happy, but he didn’t argue as much as she had expected. Secretly, she was glad. It was her way out of their relationship.

She clutched his arm. She did love him. At that moment, anyhow.  Felt his anguish. But any love she’d had for him over the past year of their time together had slowly vanished. “You okay?”

“Yep. Almost done.”

The moon shone on the silver lid half buried in the soil. She teared. Such an untimely death. But was any death timely?

He reached down for the urn. He brushed away the dirt and grasped it to his chest. “He’s back.” He smiled. “I have him back.”

“Janine won’t be happy.” Her heart thumped. She should have kept her mouth shut.

“She won’t know. She’ll never know.” He set Mark on the ground, picked up the shovel, and tossed dirt haphazardly into the hole.

What would Mark think? Would he be happy to be removed? To be taken kilometres away to a strange place? And Janine. She’d never liked Janine, Mark’s mother, Tim’s ex-wife. But the woman grieved as any mother would and faithfully visited him. Was it fair to let her sit with him, talk to him, mourn over him? Kneel by an empty hole?

“Tim, no. We can’t do this.”


“This. What about Janine?”

“To hell with Janine. He’s my son, too.”


He walked to the edge of the cemetery and threw the shovel into the woods. When he returned, he picked up his son. “You with me, or what?”

“Yeah, but…” She eyed the woods. What would happen when someone found the shovel? And the grave. So obviously disturbed.


Her boyfriend looked as disturbed as the grave. A madman shedding tears.

“I’m going. You come or not,” he said.

She stood, rooted like the trees bordering the cemetery. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t walk away with stolen ashes. Mark deserved to be left in peace. Dead or alive, his mother deserved her son. The thought of her coming to his grave, not knowing it was empty—no, she couldn’t be a part of this.

He turned. “Well…”

“No, I—”

“Fine. Stay. I’m going.”

They hadn’t been happy the past few months. It was more than Mark’s death. Simple life getting away from them, and she deserved more. She hadn’t given notice—to her employer or her landlord. Perhaps she had known all along she wasn’t going to leave with him.

She raced to the woods and picked up the shovel. Tim was still visible in the dim light. She could easily catch up.

He was unaware she’d crept up behind him. She held the shovel above her head, and the scene played out in slow motion: Tim dropping the urn, Mark hitting the ground and his ashes scattering like lime, Tim falling…dead…

The shovel felt weightless in her hand. She lowered her arm.

She couldn’t do it.

“Tim, we should take the shovel with us. Your fingerprints are on it.” And now mine, she thought.

Tim turned. “What?”

“The shovel.”

“Yeah, okay.”

New beginnings, she thought. Now that Tim’s finished his unfinished business.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

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