It sat on the table droll and beckoning them like any other empty bowl. It was white and round with three notches spaced equidistant around it to place a still burning stogie. There was only one small burn in the middle of it. The ash tray was emptied out routinely without thought, a reflex, like when the doctor hits your patella with that small rubber hammer. The way it was filled up was more enigmatic
Large deposits are made on nights when they arrived home late, and still from nightly festivities. Other times they would sit and inebriate themselves with neat whiskey and no intention of departure from the home or the table at which they sat with the ash tray. These nights were also similar to reflexes, just reactions from stress at work and being in their twenties. But on certain nights there was a different kind of ash filling the little bowl. An experience, a palpable memory of the departed. There were times when they needed to use it, even if it was only once.
The Cigarette rested between his middle finger and index as smoke idly rose to the ceiling. A puff, an inhale, a release, and then a flick which broke off the ash and with it sadness and longing. Heartache followed and eventually anger and despair. The emotions in the ash tray weren’t always spoken and were far from disingenuous. A moment of introspection. The ash in the tray made it heavier with no change in weight, made it deeper with no change in dimension.
It was drunken nights with others or sometimes it was the dark nights alone. It was always filled with some sort of emotion. If you looked in the ash tray on one of the days before they emptied the contents, you wouldn’t see them, you would see the ones who had abandoned them.
The main inspiration that produced this story was actually letting my emotions and feelings get the best of me until I felt the urge to smoke. The cigarettes were temporary but the ash tray was always there. So i felt like rather than focusing on the cigarettes themselves I would focus on the place where I deposited them. The funny thing is I don’t normally smoke but I do use it as a scapegoat sometimes. Sometimes when I feel longing for a particular someone be it female or family I tend to get down and to get stressed and to think negatively. I’m not saying that smoking is the most positive outlet for these stresses but sometimes I find myself saying “man I could use a smoke”