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Hollow Ashes

Excerpt from "The Burial"

By Brandi Ashley Published 3 years ago 3 min read

I didn’t mourn my father the day he was buried. I had too many feelings to sort and process before I could be sure of what I felt. What was I supposed to feel? Should I be sad I lost a father? Or should I be glad I was rid of my abuser? I was numb as I watched my Uncle Lee pierce the brown soil with his shovel over and over until the hole was deep enough and just wide enough for the box of ashes.

Before the cardboard box was placed into the ground, Uncle Alan spoke a few words. It wasn’t the typical eulogy just as my father’s burial wasn’t a typical funeral. My uncle struggled to find the right Christ-like words to describe my father and the life he had lived. In the end, my uncle decided it would be best to speak about what it meant to live a Christ-filled life and the importance of being ready when one’s time comes. I believed my uncle thought—along with several others—that my father had missed his chance. My father had a history of being wicked right up until the very end.

Once my Uncle Alan was finished speaking, him and Uncle Lee eased the box into the ground and began shoveling dirt on top of it until the hole was filled. I thought maybe I would begin to feel some type of loss for my father once his ashes were in the ground, but I was wrong.

I looked up from the hole where my father’s ashes were buried to see my mother standing next to me crying. Her emotions were raw and unfiltered. My brother also stood next to me. A pain shot through my chest when I saw that he, too, was viciously sobbing. I had rarely seen my brother cry, and that day, it was almost enough to shatter my shell to pieces. How could I not feel what my mom and brother so obviously felt? Seeing their pain stirred more emotion inside me than the burial itself. After all that had happened, and they were still hurting. Isn’t it supposed to be over now? I turned to see my father’s cousin walking toward me with her arms outstretched.

“Oh, honey, he loved you so much! You were a good daughter.”

I jerked my head up in surprise. So, she was going to acknowledge us? Still walking towards me, her face reflected pity.

“Let me give you a hug. I see you’re hurting baby!”

I wrinkled my eyebrows. I had shown as much emotion as I had felt.

“No, but my brother is…”

I turned to look directly at my brother who was still openly sobbing and shaken up. My heart felt like it was impaled by an ice cycle every time I heard their sobs or saw tears streaming down their faces. Could she not see that my brother and mother were the ones hurting? That’s when I realized that my father’s cousin didn’t want to see. She had yet to glance in the direction of my mother or brother as if they were nonexistent. Her eyes were blank, and her face showed no signs of emotion when I spoke of my mother and brother. I felt blood rise to my cheeks. After everything that my father had done to us! How dare her!

“No. If you can’t speak to my brother, then don’t speak to me.”

I turned away from my father’s cousin like she had never been there. Why me? Why did I always have to be treated different? I had hated my father while my brother had still loved him. It was because I had always been the “safe child” of the family. I fully submitted to my father and obeyed him out of fear. For the next several years, I would carry the weight of knowing that I had been my father’s favorite and had been abused far less than the torture my brother had endured.


About the Creator

Brandi Ashley

I am a Creative Writing major at Belhaven University in Mississippi. I was focused on writing fiction, but within the last year I have developed a relationship with God. Now, I am here to tell my story of survival as a testimony to God.

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