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Emily Drew

Watch the Ash Soar

Inhale. Patrick held his breath until the cigarette smoke burned his lungs. Exhale. He had to remind himself to breathe. Somehow he had thought this would be simpler, but Nina had always had this way of catching him off guard. What had made him think time would change that?

Somewhere above him crows cawed. His heart drummed a beat in answer. She often wondered what it was like to fly, but he could never find the right words to tell her. Not even now, at a cliff’s steep edge where nothing held the sky back.

Ash fell from his cigarette. He fumbled with the urn’s latch. It had sat on the fireplace mantel for one year and he felt nothing toward it. He had already said his goodbyes to Nina. So why was it that now, here, when he was finally ready to let her fly, did he just want to hold on?

Because, he told himself, nothing prepares you for this kind of goodbye. This was final and permanent, and even though he knew the ash in this jar was no longer Nina, Patrick had hoped—if he still had what was once her then maybe she would come back to him.

Which was why it was time to let her go. Finally, permanently. Patrick unrolled the bag. He looked at the ash inside, something he had never allowed himself to do. Nothing in the colorless ash reminded him of Nina. This was not Nina.

Inhale. He took a deep drag, tipped the urn, and watched the ashes soar. Exhale.

Emily Drew is a senior at SUNY New Paltz, currently studying English with a minor in Creative Writing. From Schenectady, New York, she enjoys meandering her neighborhood with her pet moose disguised at a brown Labrador retriever when not pouring over novels. She is previously unpublished. She would love to discuss Irish mythology with Charles de Lint over a cup of tea.

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