Ashes to Ashes

by Greta Igl

Carol drags her eyes open and hates the sight of another day streaming through her smoke-stained bedroom curtains. What is a new day but a disappointment waiting to happen, the god of fire and hope and desperation winking at her saucily as he floats high above the ashes of her burned out life? Ken didn’t come home again. She reaches for her cigarettes on the nightstand and, finding the pack empty, pulls a half smoked butt from the ashtray and lights it with trembling hands, her lined mouth grimacing at the ashy gray taste that coats her tongue like volcano dust. If she had energy, she’d get dressed and go to the 7-11 for a new pack, nice fresh ones, maybe menthols (like a cigarette and a breath mint in one), grab a coffee and a nice glazed jumbo donut, maybe ride the sugar-caffeine-nicotine train out of town and leave that piece of crap Ken once and for all. But she loves him and she’s tired, so she lays small in her big bed, a blue-gray twirl of smoke from her cigarette twisting into the greasy air as she smokes and stares at the infernal sunlight and thinks about how to resurrect her marriage like a phoenix rising from the ashes.


Greta Igl would like people to know she’s not as grim as her work might indicate. When she’s not writing, she spends her time arguing with a two-year-old about why cat food is yucky for children to eat.