You always were a slob.
The day of your funeral I clean your apartment, putting the surfaces in order before your family returns to claim them. A pall of used smoke hangs over the house. As though your breath were reluctant to leave. Cigarette butts everywhere, on display in every room like souvenirs from a bitter country, the debris filling all the ashtrays, then spilling over into glasses, saucers, flowerpots, whatever happened to be at hand. It is as though death, in those last days, was marking its territory, claiming this space for its own.
Carefully, I gather it all in a plastic bag. Your ashes. I imagine taking them home with me, not to display, of course, but to hide away in some corner of my closet, a memento, a keepsake. The touch of your vanished lips.
I must be going mad.
I go into the kitchen, find a thermos, empty the bag into it. Then I throw the bag away.
The security guard at the airport doesn't believe me, of course. He insists on opening the flask to check its contents. Your ashes scatter everywhere, a minor cloud wafting over the other passengers-to-be, tourists, businessmen, all clutching their shoes in their hand, all panicked to see this gray dust settling on their clothes and skin.
There is a commotion. Voices are raised, accusations levied, alarms set off. Boarding Area C is closed for two hours while the necessary tests are completed. Meanwhile I sit in an interrogation room in the bowels of the building, trying to explain.
At first I am angry, indignant. Then just very sad. I feel as if I have let you down.
Later, I consider that it may not have been a bad thing. I imagine all the passengers passing through that gate, unaware that they carry a piece of you with them, your ashes traveling to a thousand different destinations, scattered to all the corners of the world.