• Sera Grace John, II B.A. English


This is a piece of writing where the lyrics of a song is taken, and a story is developed on that. The following story is based on Celine Dion’s ‘Ashes’ from Deadpool 2.


‘Cause I’ve been shaking

I’ve been bending backwards till I’m broke

Watching all these dreams go up in smoke

Let beauty come out of ashes

Let beauty come out of ashes

And when I pray to God all I ask is

Can beauty come out of ashes?


That morning was different. Empty space by my side, no coffee at the bedside. Why was I alone? Oh! You’d left the day before yesterday. You’d left so much of you behind, but why? Maybe you thought it’d keep me company and make me feel less alone, but it haunted me more, reminding me of my loneliness. I didn’t touch anything till noon, it was all the way you last left it. The coffee stain was still there on the table cloth, the remote was under the cushion, the shoe polish leaked beside the rack, the dishes were undone in the sink, the worn-out bristles of your brush had a residue of paste on it.

I was a man of questions, a man of uncertainty. You rarely spoke, but every time I had questions, you just said one thing – hold on. I don’t know if I’d ever done it when you were there but yesterday I did it. I held on to every remainder of yours with weak strength. I held on till I touched your diary. Since you were gone, and I had never bothered to think about how you felt when you were alive, I figured that this was the only way.

Those few pages broke me, the “Dear Noah” on every page broke me. Why did you address it all to me? Were those the things you wanted me to see and hear but I failed to? Why did you think that I deserved someone better than you? Did you really mean it when you said that you couldn’t ask for anything more? Was I that worthy? Did I ever love you the way you wanted to be loved? I couldn’t hold myself together after seeing a side of yours that I never saw.

Your last entry was two days back – how we spent the day watching stand up comedies licking Baskin Robins on the couch and made ourselves espresso in the evening and then settled at the piano. At that, something hit me and I rushed to the hall and fell there at the piano like a broken man. It was my most precious possession after you and the time we spent there was what I loved the most because I had both of you with me. Memories, tunes and your voice echoed in me and I began tapping the keys involuntarily. But this time you weren’t there to sing along. All your favourite songs, I played them again and again. I was shaking like the keys beneath my fingers, swaying back and forth with the notes as if they were passing through my bones.

I stood there playing like a mad man till late evening, till my fingers and heart grew numb. Facing the piano was the painting of the Phoenix you’d drawn. Right below that bird with wings of fire rising from grey dust, you wrote ‘Let beauty come from ashes.’ I couldn’t hold on to anything anymore. That was enough. I opened the tiny cabinet where we’d kept us and our dreams safe – my wedding brooch and your bracelet, miniatures we’d bought during our honeymoon at Vienna, our polaroids and a pair of baby shoes that materialised our dream of a family. I fed them to the flames. All of it, but I spared the platinum you put on my left ring finger.

Shaken. Bent. Broken I sat there by the fireplace watching all those dreams go up in smoke. Only ashes remained. Ashes. I spewed them in the corner of our backyard where they’d buried you yesterday. On returning I took the painting and nailed it on the wall opposite to our bed hoping that your phoenix would give me hope every morning. After placing the only strand of hair I found on your comb under my pillow, I looked out of the window. The moonlight made the ashes glitter like stardust, a sort of shine that always gleamed in your eyes when you sang.

I remembered a woman I loved and the beautiful memories I’d shared with her. I turned to the phoenix on the wall and asked, ‘Can beauty come out of ashes?’

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