mark borczon, two shorts stories

scattering my father’s ashes

My portion of my late father’s ashes sit on top of my refrigerator. The urn is right between his laminated obituary and the bottle of Ten High whiskey that I am draining tonight. I am charged to leave handfuls of him in places that fit well with his memory. As of now I have not left any of him anywhere. I cannot bare to let him go. I can press my ear to his vessel and still hear his voice. He tells me to let him go. I want to but I fail. I tell him of my guilt and he comforts me. He wants to go but he does not want to hurt me.

As in life also in death he loves me even in my weakness.

Tonight my woman was pacing and smoking. She can’t wind down for sleep. There is a medication she cannot afford. So, she paces the floor ashing her cigarette into every bowl, cup and plate in the apartment. Finally, without thinking, she ashes into my glass of whiskey.

I say nothing. I watch the ash break apart and slowly float to the bottom of my drink. This gives me the idea.

I go to the kitchen, take down the urn and take a pinch of my father’s ashes. I drop them into my glass of whiskey and watch them spiral to the bottom.

I drink the whole thing in one burning pull. I swallow the cigarette ash and the ashes of my father in seconds. In seconds my father and I are one again.

Now I will scatter him over my whole life. I will leave him at work through my sweat. I will scatter him in every toilet I sit on. I will leave him inside my woman after sex. I will leave him in my daughter’s hair after every kiss good bye.

I needed to find a place to scatter my father’s ashes. Someplace I could visit to honor his life.

The place I chose was my life. It is the only place I know where his memory arbitrates the universe the way only the Gods can.

I leave his ashes as close to my bones as I can manage.

it is the right here that kills you

The highway fog is bone grey and ash thick. I think of an autumn sky above a crematorium. Crosses race past the passenger side window like plastic factories and used car lots. The whole sad wild ride of after work travels and neck pain coming on like an icy claw. Rust belt people are not citizens of the world. They live with toil and ache like cancer. It is the right here that kills you.

The tombstone landscape swallows everyone’s name whole. It is the highway that drives us. The whiskey that drinks us. The shotgun that pushes us into the chamber. Every cigarette I suck on turns my fingertips to ash. When I mop a floor I find that my hair is wet. No matter how much it rains my car never gets clean.

It is never on Sunday and never alone in bed. It is never gently into that good night. It is not with a bang but a whimper. It is not a picture of the gone world. It is not while fucking or fighting or meditating on a perfectly flawed rose.

It is in a foreign car with better than one hundred thousand miles on it when I bought it. It is on a rural rout driving 65 miles an hour just north of midnight. It is a fog that drifted here from Poland because it just felt right. It is a rust belt banality that ends in tragedy or ends in a dive bar. Either way…

It is the right here that sees you
It is the right here that claims you
It is the right here that knows you

It is the right here that kills you.

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