Ash is so white, I thought. So pure. I was emptied out of all my compassion and pain and could only think terrible, idle, reflective thoughts.

How do you kneel, crying in a pile of ashes for who cares how long, without appreciating how soft the remains of everything you loved feel between your fingers after it's all been converted back to the dust it came from? Were we all that soft once? before God made us hard?

I took some of it with me. Just a handful in a plastic bag. Maybe it was a box of childhood. Maybe it was a body of love. Maybe it was the plywood cupboards that could never close without fumbling all over each other. I took some of it and moved away. Life doesn't end so easily for all of us as being swallowed up in a great fiery eraser.

She'd come with me. Her hair smelled like ash. Everything smelled like ash. You need someone, she said. You need to fix, I said. She didn't like that. Pushed me out of her arms, her bed, and all the way out of her home. She didn't speak to me a week, but a strong-armed apology was enough. You need someone, she said. I twisted her gritty, ash-scented hair in my fingers. We're all so rough.

The End

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