Ashes in Las Vegas

Ashes in Las Vegas

A Story by anamezic

Had that obligatory last meal with my grandparents before they scurried back to
Croatia, tails tucked between their legs. They’ll spend the next year hiding out in her
coast’s curves then blame us for “being distant.” My grandfather antagonistically talked over his wife the whole time in a fruitless attempt to dole out some 70+ years of accumulated wisdom. He must have gone flailing through life with a broken net, because  all he actually ended up teaching me is that he has a remarkable passion for redundancy.

I mean, the poor man must have said, “write everything down or you’ll forget and be
a s**t novelist,” while wagging his metaphysical finger at least five times before conceding to a response.

That’s not to say I didn’t try and interrupt; I did, to no avail. Because all he really
heard spewing from his own olive oil slicked lips was proof that he still had something
left to say, something left to offer this world as he prepared to pass through it. 

All I wanted was to meet up with Jake and spend the evening driving until it got so dark, the streetlights were the only things we could be sure existed. Instead, I shut my mouth and waited until he was done to say, “Wow, that's good advice.”

He nodded, the lower half of his face disappearing into the folds of his neck and back
again. I couldn’t help but picture a toad in a peacoat and crown, looking accomplished
as the water around him begins boiling.

My grandmother watched in silence, the war long over. Her husband’s baritone had suffocated each
conversation she ignited over the years until she had nothing left to do but drink and smoke cigarettes out on the veranda.

My grandparents only spend about two weeks every few years in the United States. Out of these,
at least five days are spent in Las Vegas, Nevada, far from the family they're supposed to be visiting.

They have a sick enthusiasm for Vegas. When I asked what it was, exactly, that they did there, my grandma started to say something before being interrupted by her husband who found a few ways to explain they basically like to walk
around and gamble a little.

This evening in particular, they had just returned from one of those trips and my
grandfather was looking morosely at his bowl of soup when he told me he hated

He said, ”We got stuck walking behind these two gigantic asses all tattooed and
sipping some meter-long bright blue iced drinks. It was disgusting. I could never live

My grandmother excused herself for a cigarette. I remembered how she chain-
smoked when I was young and how I used to think the ash from all her cigarettes
constellated in bags below her eyes. But that's not why they hang like innocent men, swinging at dawn.
All of those words, every last word she bit and swallowed down, weighed on her face until no one but her own husband could ever see her as the woman she was. 

© 2013 anamezic

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Very strong prose. Crisp and refreshing. I think, contrary to grandad's advice, that ideas mean little unless the one with them has truly lived. Then a great writer is born.

Posted 5 Years Ago

Wow. Lot of anger in this piece towards a man we hardly know. Very well done. I found myself longing to know what it is that the grandmother has to say....are her words just as bitter as this mans? Or do they somehow temper eachother out. It would seem that if he is the only one who can see her for the woman she is/was then perhaps they do...very intreguing.

Posted 5 Years Ago

Don't want to seem hypercritical, but um, just how does a person become sick with enthusiasm?

Posted 5 Years Ago

Did he raise his finger or his metaphysical finger? or both? I'm confused.

Posted 5 Years Ago

I really liked how your details of characters' appearance make them sound almost like actions, in that when I imagine them, how they look says as much about them as their actions would. Like everyone else has mentioned, it's very poetic but that is not a bad thing. I actually quite like it. It gave the story flow and even such a small piece so much character.

Posted 5 Years Ago

I like the feel of your prose. You have a naturally poetic way of writing that is both matter of fact and sublimely "sing-songy", which gives a natural cadence to your stories. I love the way you brought out the characters and the situation, though I do wish there was more to this; I could see this being a 10 to 20 page short story rather than a flash fiction piece. Overall, I really enjoyed the read. You have a strong voice.

Posted 5 Years Ago

Interesting. I'm going to be candid and say that I found this to jump between a "story" and a poem pretty much throughout. As a result, I'm not quite sure what this piece wants to be. There is solid prose here, for sure. The narrator's voice is strong and mostly believable...but when you throw in "metaphysical" to describe a finger...well, in a poem, maybe. In a story, I find it distracting.

Again, im intrigued by this, and certainly feel you have a lot of talent. I'm just not sure what this wants to be yet. Hopefully that makes sense :/


Posted 5 Years Ago

That was fun.

Posted 5 Years Ago

and what type of woman was she? It seems like old grandpa had a little bit of a control issue and hardly knew the woman he had married. While grandma suffered grandpa sat a thought all was fine. So it seemed. Good write.

Posted 5 Years Ago

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This could be read as disconnected bundle of facts on the topic of family members. However, there is an appreciable thread running through it that I found very enjoyable.

On top of this thread, you have wonderful flashes of (often visual) insight: the broken net flailing, the magic trick with the neck, the suffocating of the grandmother's post-war life, the bags of her eyes.

I also particularly enjoy the skewering of the enthusiasm, which you do twice -- first you judge it as being pointless ('walk around', 'gamble a little') and then by countering it with the intolerance shown towards a (typical) American tourist pair. You lead the reader to ask the same question that you did.

There are also poetic touches in the writing as well as these metaphors and similes, -- the alliteration of 'coat's curves', the wagging of a metaphysical finger.

And the thread running through is about being a person, imperfect and generally uncaring of it. But sometimes a crisis comes, and we wonder at how we have so little after so much digging. And whether we truly know each other beyond the things we say, which might just be convenient fictions for the sake of diplomacy.
I think this is deeper than the 'sophomore existentialism' you mention elsewhere, and I could imagining coming across something similarly resonant in Sartre.

In ma library it goes.

Posted 5 Years Ago

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18 Reviews
Shelved in 3 Libraries
Added on May 10, 2013
Last Updated on May 10, 2013
Tags: las vegas, vegas, non fiction, true, grandparents, family, love, sad, depressing



Santa Barbara, CA

19 year old from California moving to Brookyln for an education. work inspired by white guilt/ philosophy/ degenerate mental health and unfaltering romanticism more..


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