Creative Writings Flash Fiction

She Needs a Photograph for a Funeral


Here lays Thomas Henry Herrick.

His memories shall live among us.


It had been months since Mr. Herrick passed after a sudden heart attack. No one ever seemed to expect it. He had never even seemed sick even before the heart attack. Neither his acquaintances nor even his wife was aware of the disease. It had been speculated that Mr. Herrick himself had never experienced any inconvenience regarding the symptom.

Mrs. Herrick was now a widow. She was in her late middle age. She lived up there in a big gothic-style mansion on the top of the hill, isolated from the whole neighborhood. She was never a social type, but it wasn’t because of her arrogance. Instead, she was a shy person.

Her late husband was a wealthy merchant in this town. She and her husband had been married for about 30 years but never gifted with a child. It was a pretty solid marriage for a loveless, arranged one. The wide age gap between the two of them said a lot about their distant relationship. Still, Mrs. Herrick’s collections of elegant petticoats proved she was very well provided by her husband.

The only time they were seen as a married couple was at several formal gatherings. Even though people rarely saw them together except for an important formal gathering in this town, strangely, no one had ever seen them two in a quarrel. It was perhaps due to Mrs. Herrick’s calm and shy nature as opposed to Mr. Herrick’s talkativeness. 

Since there was never a child on the list of the successor, so, when Mr. Herrick passed a month ago, the inheritance went to Mrs. Herrick, making her the wealthiest woman in town. A big mansion under her name, where she lived with just her maid, was all hers. People envied her possession but never wished to be in her position–a widow.

People didn’t expect Mrs. Herrick to have such a hard time dealing with her husband’s demise. So it had been a talk for months here and there that, surprisingly, some people spotted her still wearing a black veil. Some even heard that on some occasions, she even shed her tears. She was mourning. Some said she was even preparing for her own death; not as in suicide, but in how she deals with organizing things about her death. The maid she lived with once gossiped about Mrs. Herrick’s rambling about the meaning of life. The maid didn’t think it much, but something was definitely messing with Mrs. Herrick’s mind.

On the other hand, some people thought it was just some baseless rumor. So did I, given the fact that Mrs. Herrick had never come to town ever since the funeral. In fact, she rarely came to town, even before her husband passed. But it was until that night that I saw her knocking on the front door of my mortuary.

I vividly remembered that it had been raining hard that day. I saw her there, standing nervously. Her chignon bun was messy, her dress was soaking, and her footwear was covered in mud and dirt. She mumbled words to me very softly as I opened the door for her, but the sound of the rain washed her voice away.

I let her into my office. I rushed her to the couch, gave her a towel to dry her hair, served her a cup of hot tea, and lit up the fireplace to warm her body.

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Herrick? What can I do for you?”

“Here’s the thing, Mr. Price, I need a photograph for a funeral. Can you arrange that for me?”

“Well, Mrs. Herrick, actually, a mortuary doesn’t provide for a funeral’s photograph, but let me see what I can do. I suppose I can manage to find a photograph. After all, this is your request. A good neighbor should help each other in need.”

Mrs. Herrick looked at me with hopeful eyes. Then I remembered her husband’s passing and a rumor about her mourning. Silly me to give her hope for a photograph of her husband. Poor Mrs. Herrick, she was looking for a completion for her husband. At the funeral, there was no photograph of his husband, and he was a busy man. Perhaps it was the reason he had no time to have a picture. Now Mrs. Herrick was making an impossible request to find one for his husband. Now I got it why those rumors exist. She was indeed in grief.

“But pardon me, Mrs. Herrick, since Mr. Herrick is no longer with us, surely a photograph cannot be taken.” Maybe Mrs. Herrick thought that photograph worked like painting. “But worry no more, I can find a man to paint a portrait. Mr. Herrick was a well-known gentleman. May God rest his soul, sure that it won’t be difficult to find an artist who knew the man.”

“No, no, no, Mr. Price, the photograph is not for Mr. Herrick. The photograph is for me.”

“Oh! So you want a photograph of you to keep in your mansion, Mrs. Herrick?” I then chuckled, “May I suggest you ask for a photograph at a photo studio, there you may get a lively photo instead of a gloomy funeral face, I assure you.”

“But I need it for a funeral, Mr. Price. My funeral.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I couldn’t tell whether she was dying or just being suicidal.

She spoke up to break the considerable amount of time of awkward silence. “I know this may seem rather peculiar, but I have my reason.”

“Calm, Mrs. Herrick, no judgment here,” I calmed her down when she started to become very anxious.

“You know my husband, he passed,” she was weirdly hesitant to even mention the word passed. “It was so sudden. No one expected such a thing to happen. So I just thought that perhaps I just want to be prepared, do you understand Mr. Price, you know, in case my time has come.”

“You know, you worry too much, Mrs. Herrick, but you’re my customer. I supposed I will see what I can do.”

“Thank you, Mr. Price.”


After a while of warming herself up, she walked out of my office to head home. But by the time she walked past the cemetery beside the mortuary, she walked back to me and said, “One more thing, Mr. Price, I would like to buy a burial lot for me.”

I gave her an attentive smile to agree to her request.




In less than a week, she managed to get the photograph she had been requested. Since that day, I never saw her anymore. It was about a month later, a day after I finished deciding where her burial spot would be, I saw an obituary about her death. It was strange, indeed, that her burial lot was available just in time when she needed it.

As for the cause of her death, there was nothing strange. It was a natural cause. Her maid said she went to sleep  and just never woke up. Poor woman. Some said that she was dead because of her grief, but her grief wasn’t coming from being left by Mr. Herrick, whom she didn’t love. She grieved the fact that death was coming closer to anyone without warning. She grieved the loss of life. She didn’t miss Mr. Herrick. She just missed Mr. Herrick being alive.

In her tomb, there was a similar epitaph to her husband. It was written:


Here lies Edith Jean Herrick.

Her memories shall live among us.




Author: Valentina Pascalia

Editor: Sitti Aminah Intan Utami, Vonna Meisya Saputra (QC)

Illustrator: Betsy Agoha

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