Paper Ashes

[For the Name on Your Wrist Competition] She cries. He sighs. She smiles. He files. She writes. He lights. She dies. He lies.

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12. Scattered Petals

He hadn't gone to the funeral. Not with the rest of them, anyway. He'd sat on a bench, just far enough away that the priest's words couldn't reach him. Another addition of her Mother's. Addy hadn't been religious, he knew. But, just like the black coffin and angel headstone, her Mother was making all the decisions. Even in death, Addy hadn't escaped. She'd wanted a white coffin, to brighten the black. She didn't even want a headstone, just a tree planted over her as a reminder of her life. 

It was over now and, as he stood in front of the angel that wore her face, he recalled the tears he had shed. Promises broken so easily couldn't have been worth it, he supposed. But he didn't feel that way.

He lay on top of the earth. It was the only way he could be close to her, now. He brushed away the flowers that he knew she'd hate. They were dead, cut off from the ground. A ground that she was part of now.

 

Hours later, he rose and brushed the dirt from his clothes.

"Did you know her?" The voice came from behind him. There stood her Mother, huddled in her funeral clothes.

"No."

Perched in his pocket, an envelope whispered his deceit.

 

He didn't visit again until years later. His third marriage had failed, his third wife left crying. In the sorting of things, he found a long-forgotten box. Inside lay a long-forgotten envelope. 

As he had done all those years before, he lay on the ground, though he knew that he would find it difficult to stand again.

When he did, just as he had heard all those years ago, a voice from behind him spoke.

"Did you know her?" Adrella's mother was old now, plump and homely. More than she had ever been for her daughter.

"I've never loved another as I did her."

Perched in his pocket, an envelope whispered his truth.

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