(100-word flash fiction)

They were the power couple. Gracious and hospitable. Every birthday, anniversary and festival was celebrated with partying. They appeared in public smiling hand-in-hand.

He excelled in his career while she was the loving stay-at-home mother volunteering for charities.

They did not know when the rot in their marriage had started to  creep up from the foundation. They were so busy living their perfect lives, they did not see the brickwork slowly turning to dust. Their smiles and celebrations like ivy covering a decaying structure had fooled even themselves.

All it took for the structure to crumble was one mammogram.


Sadly, it’s a true story. Neighbours of ours, such a nice couple, hospitable and both of them lovely people. Then we moved away and heard she has had a mastectomy.  Followed soon by divorce.


Tried to get literal with this one, but it came out a bit stilted, I think.

Thank you Rochelle for yet another lovely photo and for so religiously hosting our Flash Fiction addicted get-together 🙂

Photo prompt –


PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bulltot

47 comments on “Ruin

  1. Dear Joyful,

    How sad that the foundation of their marriage crumbled to that extent. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Not knowing the full situation, my anger is aimed at him. How shallow of him. See what you did? You stoked my emotions. Good job.



  2. I agree with Dale – no stilts here 🙂 It is sad and yes, you can never tell what adversity will do to a relationship until it hits. It can make you stronger or it can destroy you.

  3. A story with insight and compassion. The tragedy waiting for them is implicit from the very first sentence, and you lead us so gently to pitying this golden couple, where we might have envied them. That’s good writing.
    I think you’re right about ‘stilted’, but it’s not much and it’s far outweighed by the merits of the piece.

  4. Is it weird that I feel like I should examine my own foundation now? I don’t want to be one of the ones who fools himself so thoroughly as those two.

  5. It wasn’t the breast cancer. It was the cancer of the soul and spirit, the heart disease, that ruined their marriage. I see too much of this in my counseling office, usually too little, too late.

  6. Sooo understand that one. While I was in the ER struggling to be alive back in ’96, family and even the church told my husband to abandon me. After all, I didn’t remember who he was so I would never even realize he was gone. Instead of following their advice, he stayed. I hear about incidents like this, and I am reminded of how truly blessed I am. Thank you. AWESOME story!

    • You ARE very lucky Jelli. Nowadays, marriages come apart over seemingly small things. To have a partner stand by you in adversity is a huge blessing. But I cannot understand why the church would ask him to leave. I thought all churches are against divorce ???

      • We’d been married less than a year. And truth be, his parents didn’t really like me from the get-go. Let’s just say, we married each other in a ‘rescue’ attempt from two very abusive homes.

  7. This was very well written and you tied the story very visually to the prompt. A crisis either makes or breaks a marriage and probably in their case, the medical crisis highlighted the distance between them….a situation where both or neither were at fault. A reminder to the rest of us perhaps to connect with our partner across those inevitable divides.
    xx Rowena

  8. Trust , love and faith are the foundatons of every good relationship and when one fails, the other two can quickly fail, too. I didn’t find it stiltet. Stories come in many shapes and sizes.

  9. The rot can creep in slowly and go undetected (or ignored) for a long time. Then the marital foundation is weakened and any tremor can crack it. So true and well described here. You did a great job with this!

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