“ Ashes to Ashes “
by: Theresa Christian
Inspired by: “ Mine” and “Little Things”
by: Raymond Carver
The sky was grey over the small town as a man and woman left the little chapel. The air
was cold and damp and a gust of wind started to stir. Big black clouds formed in the horizon and
appeared to be moving quickly towards them.
The woman spoke. “Hurry brother. We must hurry to the house before the storm comes in.”
“I’m going as fast as I can,” replied her brother, as he struggled trying to keep his balance
on the muddy, slippery road. He had a cane in one hand and had a small wooden box tucked
under the other arm. She took the box from her brother. The rain started to come down hard, so
she placed it under her coat, holding it in place with her elbow. She then grasped her brothers
arm and continued to lead him down the road into town.
Drenched, muddy and cold, they finally reached the front porch of the little house where
they had grown up. The house was run down and in great need of repair. They opened the door
They walked into the small living room and found that it was just as dark and damp as it
was outside and a bit gloomy as well. As they made their way through the house an uneasy
feeling came over them as if the house were haunted and there may be ghosts, monsters or
some other ungodly creature at any turn. Then a knot formed in Patience’s stomach as she
spotted the door of the broom closet. She had spent many hours hiding behind that door as a
child when the monsters got loud and ugly. Sometimes she heard her baby brother crying in the
midst of all the chaos and felt bad that he didn’t know enough to hide like she did. Her memories
were soon interrupted by the sound of a loud “thud.’ She quickly turned and saw that her brother
had fallen to the floor.
“ Oh! Dear brother!” she cried. As she ran to his side, the wooden box fell from her coat. It
hit the fireplace hearth and broke open at the hinges, spreading their deceased father’s ashes
all over the floor. She helped Justice to his feet and sat him in a chair by the fireplace.
Upon seeing the pile of ashes and the broken box, Justice said, “I’m so sorry. I can’t believe
how clumsy and careless I am.”
“ It’s not your fault,” she said as she comforted him. “Just sit and relax. I’ll go make you
Patience went into the kitchen . She found some tea cups on the shelf. They were a bit
chipped, but they would do. She found some Earl Grey tea and some honey in the pantry and
set them on the counter, filled the tea kettle with water and placed it on the burner. She went to
join her brother in the living room.
The two sat looking at the ashes all over the floor and the broken wooden box, wondering
what to do. Justice grabbed his cane and stood up. He then took the fireplace broom out of the
holder and started to sweep. Patience stopped him saying, “Wait, Justice, not yet.” He stopped
and looked at her in a confused manner.
Patience walked over to the fireplace mantel and picked up another small wooden box. This
one had the word “MOTHER” carved into the top. She lifted the small box up over her head and
with great force threw it on the hearth. Ashes flew everywhere and the box splintered into pieces
that resembled matchsticks.
Justice, in his confusion,asked, “Why, Patience? Why did you do that?”
Her reply was, “Because it’s their fault. They’re the ones who did this to you. They did this
After thinking for a moment, Justice got up again, picked up the broom and proceeded to
sweep all of the ashes into the fireplace. He then placed the broken pieces of the boxes on top
of the ashes and started a fire.
As they sat by the fire warming themselves, they looked at each other and exchanged
smiles. This was a special moment for them for they knew this was the first time their parents
had ever provided them with warmth and comfort!
In this manner, the issue was decided and agreed upon by the two that their parents’ final
destination was to remain in this dark dwelling forever in the nightmare which they had created.
The tea kettle whistled, tea was made, justice was served and patience prevailed!