My mother deserved better, but then I always had been an inferior child. I’d left her ashes in their dark urn–in a garage, extruding only the smallest amounts at Christmas, her birthday (ironically, on Valentine’s Day), and Mother’s Day, wearing the sigil of her love of my forehead like the mark of a curse, or the mark of contrition.

But then, what other son could create the Remembrance 2000, into which one fed the ashes of one’s ancestors, animating them for a few moments at a holographic shrine?

She begged for more moments, and I, cruelly, let her have them. She vituperated me without let, but within the year, she had consumed herself, and I was free–of curse, contrition, and love.