Summary : In a boutique, Clotilde buys an antique urn which she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes there are someone’s ashes in it …
Clotilde had put an eternity before arriving at this boutique that located on the top of the cliff. She already had some worries to move, and now she had to climb a stone stair along 3 kilometres. No, of course she is exaggerated when she told about this to the shopkeeper, but for her, this staircase had been such a hard obstacle to overcome.
However, in the end of her long effort, she managed to reach the peak, feel exhausted, thirsty, sweaty and dishevelled, but ready to discover this isolated place, about which her friend, Maélis, told her everything so much. Fortunately, Maélis is strongly insisted so that she goes there, by saying to Clotilde that she would not regret it so much as there was so many nice things to be seen, otherwise she would have left her rise before the 5th step!
In the past, Clotilde has climbed up the mountains or the other one high peaks, but from now on, these only outing were the mass of Sunday, the upkeep of its garden, shopping in the market in the area and the tea party once a week with her neighbours. Today was a big day, she has finally gone through more than 6 kilometres away from her home, what had not arrived for many months. That is why she had got dressed with her favourite suit and skirt, which she kept for big occasions. Matched to the sandals, the skirt and the suit were coloured more than 10 rainbows at once. Hot colours put her injoy and the contrast with the blackness of her skin attracted the eyes of women and men, reminded her of the time when she was still capable of climbing the stairs up without being out of breath.
By entering the boutique, Clotilde knew that her effort was worthwile. She immediately had a feeling that she was going to stay there for some hours, so much there seemed to be interesting things to be watched : on the wall were hung some clocks in the form of fish, lamp-shades that looked like an eye which did not leave your gaze, stuffed animals that were disseminated everywhere, an old bike took a lot of the space and also under the wall, an innumerable number of telephones waited for future calls which would never come. And of course, on the shelves, there were hundreds of small or big objects that called to her curiosity.
Clotilde has passed exactly 1 hour, 46 minutes and 21 seconds in this shop, which had just made its happiness. She went out again, loaded her arms with all types of trinkets: one of the telephones which were hung on the wall, the figurine of a small hairy animal (she was sure that she has already seen it in a movie but could not remember which movie it is, anyway she suspected that one of her grandson would like it), one towel rail in a flower form, an antique urn, a jar filled with multicolored sand and a big green bag (it was probably crocodile’s skin but she was not dare to ask) to put in these stuffs. And also the vase that made of clay which is so huge that she had asked to have it and delivered it at home on the next days.
Back at home, having taken down the interminable staircase with so much trouble as to go up, she directly allowed herself to take some rests. She already got a cup of tea, took her big book on the terrace and sat down on her seesaw chair. After 2 minutes, she putted down her book on her knees. After 3 minutes she had begun closing her eyes. After 4 minutes she was falling asleep. And after 5 minutes she snored like an elephant. When she woke up in the evening, the sun was almost on its bed, about to give way to the moon.
Clotilde tells herself that her time of rest had lasted enough and if she will not activated, she will not succeed to sleep this night. She stood up from her chair and searched the big bag where waited her new property. She putted down the telephone on the table of the kitchen and decided to hang it on the wall later, just the same for the small figurine which she would have to wrap up for one of her grandson. She brought the towel rail in her bathroom, which replaced the one who lied around on her washbasin for a certain time. She was ready to put the antique urn on the bookcase where displayed her other decoration stuffs, when she noticed that there was some dusts on the bottom.
Clotilde did not ask herself any questions and threw it directly what resembled at some ash, in the garbage can. She barely noticed that there was an impressive quantity. As for the jar of sand, she took it in her room, on the bedside table. The shopkeeper on the cliff told her that in a distant country, inhabitants came to pick up the sand of some beaches, which have different colors according to the places. They put the lot in small pots and they placed them on the graves of their missing persons, as a tribute to the dead, so that they will find peace and serenity in beyond. Clotilde had found this story which is very nice, that is why she had bought one of the jars.
Some days later, Clotilde received the visit of the delivery man which brought her its last shopping, the nice vase. With a letter which was addressed to her on behalf of the shopkeeper. She hastened to ask the delivery man to take her vase on the terrace and she opened the envelope.
The writing of the letter was sloppy and it seemed that it had been written in a hurry. And it was the case, tells herself. Indeed the shopkeeper announced her that the antique urn she had bought in the boutique was a real funeral urn, that belongs to somebody and who is still contained ashes of a died person ! She understood now what she had taken for dust. By knowing it, she remembered that there was so much dust for whatsoever real dust. But as her habit of impatient woman, she had not taken the time to think. And she had thrown ashes into the garbage can. And today this garbage was gathered with hundreds of other garbage cans of the district, in the centre of recycling of waste. She continued her reading and was a little bit horrified when she learnt that she had to return that urn immediately, after which the owner cared so much, to the delivery man, who knew about this exchange and who has just came back from the terrace. This one noticed that she had read the contents of the envelope and he asked her therefore to return him the antique urn.
Of course that she could return the antique urn to him, she thought, but the ashes were not there anymore! Into which trouble she was loaded, she thought. The delivery man, without discomfort, asked her to go quickly, because he had to continue his tour. Thrown into a panic, Clotilde achieved to tell him to wait some moments when she goes to search the urn. She headed hurriedly for her room and in passage caught the urn on the bookcase, without the man noticed it. Arrived inside the room, she started to turn in a circle, because she had no idea of what she could do ! Indeed, she tried to find a solution, but her brain was too much complicated by her thoughts so that she thinks intelligently. She could not return the urn just like that, the delivery man would notice that there would be nothing inside of it. While she thought simply of inventing a lie (who would not have seemed credible) as what a thief would have entered by break-in and stolen the property which she must return, the eyes settled on the small jar on its bedside table, in which some layers of sands were more darker than others …
Some moments later, Clotilde went out of her room and handed the antique urn over to the delivery man. He checked that it was not damaged, he also looked inside and seemed satisfied. He thanked Clotilde and announced her that there were not worries to be made, that she will be paid back in some days to come. He also apologised, in the name of the shopkeeper, for this inconvenience. He did not know himself how he had been with a antique urn containing real ashes of a real person, in his boutique.
Once the delivery man left, Clotilde went back directly to her room and stretched out on her bed. She thought to have the rights to take a nap, after all this restlessness in her brain. She immediately fell asleep and dreamt about these men and about these women in a distant country who picked up some sands to honour their dead family.
On the bedside table, the sands in the jar had strongly diminished and there remained only the hottest colours …
Word count : 1547