Emily Hipchen
I Want Candy

Emily Hipchen - I Want Candy

Creative Nonfiction
Emily Hipchen is a Fulbright scholar, the editor of Adoption & Culture, one of the editors of a/b: Autobiography Studies,… Read more »
Bill Ratner
Of This Earth

Bill Ratner - Of This Earth

Creative Nonfiction
Bill Ratner is an eight-time winner of The Moth Story Slams in Los Angeles and a Best of Hollywood Fringe… Read more »

Of This Earth

Bill Ratner

I spread the front page of the Sunday New York Times over my bathroom sink and set down the two urns that contained my in-laws’ ashes. Modern burial urns are designed to appear inviolable, their contents never to see the light of day. But if my wife and I were going to scatter my in-laws’ ashes, we would have to open their urns. With a screwdriver, I pried them apart. Inside each was a plastic bag closed with a twist tie. In Jack’s burial urn was a slip of paper that read: “The loved one’s remains respectfully prepared at Forest Lawn by Juan.” With a teaspoon, I took a tiny scoop of my mother-in-law Sophie’s remains and a pinch of my father-in-law Jack’s and stirred them together. Sophie’s ashes were a pale ashen gray—Jack’s, a sandy raw sienna—perhaps because Sophie had been cremated in The Bronx and Jack in Los Angeles. I pulled apart four empty gelatin capsules, placed them on the bathroom counter, and tapped Jack and Sophie’s ashes into the capsules. This was beginning to feel like a drug deal.

It was my wife Aleka’s desire and Jack and Sophie’s last wish to have their ashes scattered… Read more »