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It never occurred to me that you could be gone.

The idea was inconceivable, not because it was unimaginable, but because I had no concept of life without you.

There were moments where the thought would hover around the periphery of my consciousness trying to poke its way in, but I never permitted entry.  To do so would only invite things that I’d fought to keep away and I simply couldn’t allow that to happen.

I understand now that it had never been my choice, but these illusions of control are what keep us sane as we career through life with little grasp on anything, even what’s right next to us.

When they gave you back to me it seemed impossible that this was all that was left.  A small, innocuous container of unidentifiable remnants to represent an entire life.  The notion was simultaneously comical and terrible, and had you been there I think you would have laughed along with me, though you were never much one for weeping, so that I did alone.

You’d left no instructions beyond your wish to be cremated, no special spot you wanted the ashes scattered, and I spent countless hours trying to think of somewhere fitting.  Every place I considered that might hold some special meaning for you, natural landmarks you’d admired and favorite locations we frequented, all seemed unworthy in one way or another, though perhaps that’s because I knew you’d be there without me.

Maybe that’s why I did it.

I think I just wanted to see you again.  To know that you were still around and not bound up in some ornamental vessel or carried away by the wind.

The first thing I did was give away my vacuum cleaner since I knew I wouldn’t need it anymore.

Then I deposited you bit by bit into every room of the home we shared; I sprinkled you into the carpets and rugs, left traces of you beneath the sofa cushions, and behind the throw pillows you’d picked out when we first moved in together. The last portion I saved for your side of the bed.  I carefully spooned small piles into the depressions left by your hip and shoulder and in the soft bowl of your pillow. 

You’re beside me every evening when I say goodnight and there when I wake glinting in the sunlight.  

Sometimes I pluck up a tiny pinch of you and rub you into the whorls of my fingertips.  I feel like you’re right there holding my hand, tethering me to the world.

I’ve left explicit instructions in my will for what’s to be done with my remains and have full confidence in the firm I’ve retained to complete the task when it comes time.

We will be together again my dear, nearer to each other than was possible in life.

Until then, I’ll be smiling down at every crack, cranny, and crevice that keeps you close to me. 

Peter first fell into fiction penning stories to amuse his grammar-school classmates, which helped him overcome his shyness, but resulted in very few completed homework assignments. He is an avid fan of horror movies, especially those with a sense of humor, food served from carts and roadside shacks, and the music of The Ramones, The Replacements, and other bands of like-minded misfits who found a way to connect with the world through their music and their words. He was raised and currently resides in the Chicagoland suburbs with his wife and cats and his writing has appeared in various online and print publications.  You can find out more about Peter and his writing at:

© 2020, Peter Emmett Naughton

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