Comfort Like Ashes

These days, she had taken to pondering the most insignificant things. Emptiness had a surprising way of expanding and filling a skull to bursting capacity when it was given the chance. Her latest obsession was dust. Or rather ashes. Before the last fire, she had never considered how resilient they were, how fiercely they clung to grooves and cracks in tiles.

How imposing they were, a solid black mass, dust particles coalesced into an immovable mound, leaving a permanent stain, a shadow, a reminder of their existence long after they had been swept away. How relentless, relentlessly useless– nothing more than waste, wasteful attempts to preserve memory. How nostalgic, painfully nostalgic– a constant reminder of decayed vivacity and the remnants of a stale life ground to nothing.

She carried these thoughts with her throughout her days; their omnipresence turned from disturbing to comforting. She sprayed the ashes over her mass of cotton hair, she brought them with her from room to room, she plaited them into the neatest, tightest rows of corn, she ground them up with dried flakes of skin, she rubbed them into her chest between the indentations left by her sharp ribs, she left some in front of her doorstep, for who?

The ancestors? To ward of Pharaoh’s soldiers on their destructive quest? She scratched at the stubborn ashes with the last traces of vigor left in her forearms. She stowed the broom away, and folded brown hands in her lap.

 

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