Fiery Scribe Review, DUST, September 2022
Avery hated dust. She wasn’t a hater of most things. She loved the beach, lukewarm coffee and old suitcases. Pens, black socks and a freshly sharpened #2 pencil. Cameras of any vintage. And ashtrays, antique-store ones from all over the world. Just about anything, as long as it was old. Unfortunately, these things loved to accumulate dust.
The worst culprits were dust mites. Someone showed her enlarged photos of microscopic, bulbous, crablike creatures that poop in your bed, images that got stuck in her brain. She didn’t have a dust mite allergy, more like an aversion. A powerful one. She changed the sheets religiously, the closest she got to religion of any kind, to avoid the build-up of nasty pooping monsters in sleeping quarters.
She named her restaurant Stardust and, ironically, referred to it as The Dust. That’s like someone who hates dogs naming it Puppy Heaven. Stardust was a labor of love and a dream come true after decades of working in restaurants and bars. Undercapitalized, but the many friends she’d amassed from years behind the bar and under a tray helped get it off the ground. They lent her money, painted bar stools, scrubbed the kitchen and remained avid and loyal patrons. Stardust died before she did, but only after several years of sheer joy for all – staff, customers and us.
I can’t remember how she chose the name, although I suspect it was because of the song Stardust, an old one, a famous one, written in 1927. It definitely wasn’t because she believed in anything otherworldly. Scientific stuff, yes, but mystical, no way. Astrology, near death experiences, reincarnation, she took no interest in any of that. I’m sure she’d scoff at us if she knew how we think we get messages from her in the form of dandelions, moths and dragonflies.
Scientists say we’re all made of stardust. The particles in our bodies have been in existence for billions of years and will continue long after we’re gone. All of our atoms, our DNA, come from the energy that powers the stars.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Avery would have said, “Where did that saying come from? We don’t start as ashes. We begin as a zygote, the union of an egg with a male gamete, sperm.” She would have known that. What she couldn’t have known is that she did become ashes. I’m certain she would be delighted that they live in my closet.