Lea sat criss-cross in front of the bookcase staring down at the Persian rug underneath her.
The small round rug was in the alley behind Roe’s apartment the night Roe cut his wrists. Lea tripped over it as she ran home after the ambulance left. She kicked it and the rug unrolled itself a bit offering a glimpse of intricate patterns woven into a thick pile. It whispered to her in the throws of painful bellows. It was soft, and surprisingly clean.
She picked it up and held it close to herself and walked the rest of the way home.
That night Lea placed the rug in front of the bookcase. It made its place there for when she needed sit to center herself, or remember Roe.
Now, all Lea could do was stare at the rug.
She didn’t understand why these things always happened to her. Why was it when things started going smoothly, like with Roe and their two years together, that blackness always seeped in, blackness like tar oozing from a pit that snared unwitting dinosaurs on their journey.
This morning Lea decided it was time to scrub away some black tar. It was time. Roe was gone now. Summer was waning. Lea needed to say a final goodbye.
Her photo of Roe and herself sitting on the horse standing on the big red chair in front of the Denver Art Museum once sat on the bookshelf. That space was cleared away the Night The Rug Came Home. That’s what she called it. The Night The Rug Came Home. It was easier to say that instead of what it really was. The bookshelf was ready.
She bought a new candle at the carniceria. It had a picture of Jesus with his large red heart in the center of his chest surrounded by a ring of thorns and light coming out as if it was a red sun. That’s how Lea thought of Roe’s heart, big and shining but circled in pain.
She still needed a vase. The ARC store had just what she was looking for.
It was bronze and it was beautiful sitting on a rose-patterned scarf draped over the glass case filled with old jewelry. The lines were soft, round and smooth like her belly. Swirls dipped freely down from the rim curling around the vase much like her own hair around her head. But tarnish had made it less desirable. The vase was a lot like Lea.
The lid on the vase sat firmly in the rim, remarkably like the knitted cap she was wearing. Lea wore the cap all year round. She liked the feeling of a hat grasping tightly around her head. It was almost as if it pushed her into the ground so she wouldn’t float away. There were days when she wanted to just throw off the cap and fly, but she knew the time wasn’t right yet.
Lea bought the vase, even though it was much too expensive. She would deal with that at a later time when bills needed to be paid. It was one of her gifts. She never had money to spare, but she always had enough for what she needed.
On the way home she would go past Zara’s house. Zara, the old woman from Russia, always allowed her and Roe to pick flowers from her garden. Zara would tell the two what the flowers meant and how you could use them as medicine or for tea or in love potions. So they always made a point of choosing new ones each time they visited. Even though the two friends had been picking flowers for two summers out of Zara’s yard, there were always new species with new meanings and purpose each time they visited.
Today, Lea would let Zara pick the flowers in memory of Roe. She didn’t think she could do it. Zara would probably insist that Lea choose them, but Lea would be strong and say, “No.” Zara would understand.
And that’s how it happened. Lea entered her apartment with an fist full of forget-me-nots.
She set the flowers on the kitchen counter and proceeded to fill a pitcher with water. She grabbed some matches, the flowers, the pitcher, and proceeded to the rug.
Lea arranged the items around the rug and sat down in the middle, legs crossed, hands cupped together in her lap. After several deep breaths, she began the prayer from the Sutta Nipata.
“May all beings be filled with joy and peace.”
Lea lit the match.
“May all beings everywhere,
The strong and the weak,
The great and the small,
The mean and the powerful,
The short and the long…”
She lit the candle and placed her hands around the belly of the vase.
“The subtle and the gross.
May all beings everywhere,
Seen and unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby…”
She picked up the pitcher ready to pour the water into the vase.
“Being or waiting to become…”
Lea pulled off the lid and began to pour.
“May all be filled with…” “Fuck!”
Water streamed all over the rug mixed with a black gritty substance.
Lea sat criss-cross in front of bookcase staring down at the Persian rug underneath her.
They were someone’s fucking ashes.
Today our Wednesday Afternoon Writers met for lunch and a bit of writing. The wonderful thing about a writing group is not just the writing but the fellowship that grows out of it. Thank you writers, Niki, Dorothea, Shelia, Sandy, Gracie, Crystal, and Diane. And we were serenaded by Wayne on the piano while sipping mimosa and eating food to delight all.
My prompt pulled from an envelope:
At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes they are someone’s ashes.