Ethel Rohan

Rights Of Passage

She knew it was wrong to fantasize at her husband’s funeral, wrong that the fantasy felt real, the service a dream.

She imagined her husband sitting on a throne, looking every inch an Egyptian king, and she standing before him, as proud, beautiful, and hard-jawed as Cleopatra. He beckoned her closer. She presented him with a large silver sword, the gesture heroic, but hesitant too.

Her husband’s brother delivered the main Eulogy. Other family members and friends also took center-altar. Some she recognized. She didn’t hear much of what anyone said. Let it not take much longer.

They wheeled her husband’s coffin down the aisle on a brass trolley, its wheels squeaking. She wanted to chase the pallbearers off, lift the coffin, bear it atop her head, and run far away. Or maybe just home. For tea. Earl Grey. For two. From behind her, whispers of spirit and sorrow. She knew to fake-cry.

Outside, snow had spread its shroud. I’m so sorry repeated over and over. On its roof, the waiting hearse wore a boa of wreaths. She looked quickly away from the driver, dressed in top hat and tails, more suited to a wedding.

The windowed sides of the hearse mystified her. All packed-up, the flowers pressed against the glass, crushed by the coffin. Oh to grab at the wreaths, pull them asunder, and scatter their petals and sap-filled stems over the snow. So fresh and he so withered.

She remained on the church steps, and removed her shoes, letting her feet sink into the snow. Mourners stared at her sodden nylons, snagging their lips, shaking their heads. Her husband’s brother gripped her arm: I’ve got you.

Still she felt falling, falling, run-through with the sword, smiling up at her husband before landing at his sandaled feet, saying better I.

Ethel Rohan loves to read and write Flash Fiction. Her most recent publishing credits include Keyhole Digest, Wigleaf, Staccato Fiction, and (So New) Necessary Fiction. She blogs at

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