So, there's a scene in my current WIP in which the MC (the narrator, who happens to be 117 years old and not ageing, but that's not important here) is participating in a private ceremony along with her 51-yr-old grand-daughter Odette and 35-yr-old great-grand-daughter Kasia to scatter the ashes of her recently-passed 84-yr-old daughter Ebony. The plan is to scatter her ashes, as Ebony had requested, upon a nearby hillside spot.
I have never seen human ashes; I've had to make some presumptions about what the contents of a cremated person's urn would look like, and what quantity of ash there would be. I have also had to imagine the logistics of the scattering.
Would any of you be kind enough to tell me if this excerpt sounds authentic, plausible and - well - any good?
Huge thanks in advance.
“Are you alright with that?” I say to Odette, indicating the urn. “Would you like one of us to carry it for a while?”
I’m expecting her to refuse. For a moment, I think she intends to. But then she looks at me and nods. “Why not,” she says, and holds the urn out towards me like a peace offering. I take it from her gingerly, deliberately letting my fingers brush over hers.
“Thank you,” I say, holding her gaze for as long as she lets me.
“Let’s get going before this weather turns, shall we?” She starts to head off up the footpath, Kasia and I walking side by side behind her. It’s a ten minute hike to the top, and we complete it without any further words. All I can think about is my precious cargo. With every footstep, I know I am closer to having to let it go.
By the time we crest the lip of the hill, we are all panting.
Odette looks back round at us. “Okay?”
She leads us towards one of the only two benches - one on the city side, the other on the coastal side. We are heading for the latter. I am relieved to see that no one else is up here, so we have the hilltop to ourselves. It is almost eerily quiet, no sound but our own collective heavy breathing.
We sit in a row: me in the middle. Ebony’s urn is on my lap. Without any of us needing to say anything, we all instinctively know what comes next. From either side of me, an arm reaches around my shoulders. I am pulled into a huddle of shared grief. To my left, I can feel Kasia shuddering as she starts to sob. To my right, Odette feels rigid, but she’s gasping out tears. I say my own goodbyes silently, biting down on my own lips that are quivering hard.
Eventually, we’re ready. I take the lid off and peer inside with a mixture of dread and longing. There she is! Oh god, there she is!
“How do you want to do this?” I say to Odette, dragging my eyes away from the urn’s contents.
From her coat pocket, Odette produces three medium-sized metal scoops. “I thought we could each use one of these,” she says hoarsely. “We can go to different points, if you like. Scatter her simultaneously in different directions, into the wind.”
This seems like the right thing to do. With the urn standing on the bench now, we apportion out the fine silvery-beige powder. The breeze, coming up from the sea, swirls at the mound on my scoop, and I have to cup my hand around it to protect it as I walk towards the spot I have chosen: the far end of the footpath, where it seems to melt over the edge of the grass into the expanse of sky.
“Fly free, my darling girl,” I murmur, and I hold my trowel at arm’s length, sideways to the wind, and let it take her. A ribbon of glistening, shimmering dust takes off, and at once evaporates like smoke into the air. I stare after it, stunned and broken.